John Bellany

Billy Connolly, b. 1942. Entertainer (after 1972)

About this artwork

This large portrait depicts – though not necessarily resembles – Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly. Born in Glasgow, Connolly served an apprenticeship as a welder in the Clyde shipyards before embarking on a career in show business. He initially focussed on being a folk singer but gradually made the transition to stand-up comedy. His break-through came when he told his famous bike joke on BBC’s Parkinson talk show in 1975. He has since performed for sell-out audiences the world over, produced three ‘World Tour’ series for the BBC and has acted in films including ‘Mrs Brown’ (1995), opposite Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria. His Scottish nickname ‘The Big Yin’ (The Big One) is a reference to his 1.83m (6 foot) height.

  • title: Billy Connolly, b. 1942. Entertainer
  • accession number: PG 3378
  • artist: John BellanyScottish (1942 - 2013)
  • depicted: Billy Connolly
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Stage and Screen
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: after 1972
  • measurements: 172.50 x 152.00 cm (framed 174.00 x 152.40 x 2.50 cm)
  • credit line: Presented by the artist 2004
  • copyright: © The Estate of John Bellany. All Rights Reserved 2016/ Bridgeman Images
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

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.

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