Confessions of a Justified Sinner
© the Artist / Bridgeman Art Library. All rights reserved.

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Confessions of a Justified Sinner Dated 1972
  • Scottish Art
The title of this etching comes from James Hogg’s classic novel, ‘The Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner’, published in 1824. Bellany read it when he went to London to study at the Royal College of Art. The book examines the potential for evil within humanity, a theme that links directly to Bellany’s Calvinist upbringing. This etching is filled with ambiguities, creating an unsettling scene. In the foreground a figure carries a skate in a basket whilst behind, another apparently hermaphrodite figure with a cat-like face, clutches an egg timer. The skate has human features and external sexual organs - an alter ego of some description that appears frequently in his work. Bellany only began to experiment with etching when he started teaching at Winchester College of Art. This is one of the first of a series of etchings he made in 1970.

Glossary Open


A form of printmaking in which a metal plate is covered with a substance called a 'ground', usually wax, into which an image is drawn with a needle. Acid is applied, eroding the areas of the plate exposed but not the areas covered by wax. The action of the acid creates lines in the metal plate that hold the ink from which a print is made when the plate is pressed against paper under pressure.



  • Acc. No. GMA 2994
  • Medium Etching on paper (3/50)
  • Size 49.50 x 43.20 cm (paper 66.40 x 54.50 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1986