John Bellany

Kinlochbervie (1966)

About this artwork

Kinlochbervie is a small fishing village in the north-west of Scotland. As in many of Bellany’s early paintings, this work combines sea and religious imagery. The fish gutters in the foreground are in a ‘Last Supper’ arrangement and a figure at the top right carries a yoke which gives him the appearance of being crucified. It is one of the first paintings in which Bellany shows a single boat with fishermen outlined against a clear sky. The boat is used symbolically to represent a conveyor of human fate like the mythical boat used to ferry the dead across the river Styx to Hades.

  • title: Kinlochbervie
  • accession number: GMA 2988
  • artist: John BellanyScottish (1942 - 2013)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Fishing industry
  • date created: 1966
  • measurements: 243.50 x 320.00 cm
  • credit line: Purchased 1986
  • copyright: © The Estate of John Bellany. All Rights Reserved 2016/ Bridgeman Images

John Bellany

John Bellany

Bellany was born in the fishing village of Port Seton, near Edinburgh. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art and at the Royal College of Art, London. His work of the 1960s and 1970s dealt with original sin, guilt, sex and death. His characteristic paintings are large compositions featuring his own personal symbolism, often derived from the sea and from religion, two elements that dominated his childhood. The flawed nature of humanity was usually central to his paintings. Bellany became seriously ill in the 1980s and underwent a liver transplant operation in 1988, after which his work became more optimistic in mood.