What Has Made 'The Singing Butler' One Of The UK's Most Favourite Works Of Art?

What Has Made 'The Singing Butler' One Of The UK's Most Favourite Works Of Art?

It doesn't matter whether you are young or old, an art fanatic or not... at some point in your life you will have come across the image of that lady in the red dress, barefoot, dancing with her partner on a beach on the West Coast Of Fife like they have not a care in the world...

Vettriano's 'The Singing Butler' has become one of the world's best-selling images, and although has faced a lot of critique over the years, last year was voted Britain's third most favourite work of art of all time, beating the likes of Turner, Lowry and Waterhouse. I guess it is a fair question to ask, just what about this piece of art has allowed it to stand the test of time and become so sought after by so many in today's competitive contemporary art world?

When Jack sat down to paint this image in 1992, I don't think even he could have imagined the status it would eventually grow to have. Vettriano's works often portray scenes of romance, passion and seduction between male and female in bars and boudoirs... but for this work he wanted to step outside of that to another location where love blossoms - the beach. The work depicts a couple, caught in the midst of their love for one another, dancing around the beach whilst a windswept butler and maid look on. This a completely blissful scene and is bathed in the nostalgia of the glitz and the glamour of the 1940's and 50's, which is why is the main reason it has been so widely celebrated. For maybe just a moment, you can get lost in this picture and feel warm and carefree like the two figures skipping around the sand together. 

Vettriano sold the painting for £3,500 initially - a fair amount back then for an original oil painting from a little known and self taught artist, but the popularity of the image continued to grow with Jack's career, and in 2004 when it came back up for auction it sold for just under an extraordinary £750,000 - making it the highest priced work of art by a Scottish artist at that time. 

Although one of the most recognised paintings in the world, 'The Singing Butler' has not come without some controversy over the years, as critics have tried hard to find fault in this wonderful image. It is now widely known that Jack Vettriano used an 'Illustrators Manual' to create the figures in the scene and this something which he never has denied. Jack stated that the manual is designed for painters who don't have access to models, something he did struggle with as he was never formally taught to paint, and although he took inspiration for the figures - the vision, the setting, the painterly technique and the beautiful story behind the work came solely from his own imagination - and that is something the critics could never deny.

I personally believe the most beautiful thing about 'The Singing Butler' today is that everyone will remember the first time they saw it and how they instantly fell in love with this image and everything it represents - and that to me is one of the most powerful things a piece of art can do! We will have a signed limited edition copy of this wonderful work on display at our Jack Vettriano exhibition, and we would love you to join us and re-experience all the emotions and memories it made you feel all over again! 


The Jack Vettriano Exhibition will run from Saturday the 24th Of March until Sunday the 8th Of April in our Edinburgh gallery - 100 Hanover Street. 


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