John Bellany

Allegory

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About this artwork

This triptych was exhibited at Bellany's postgraduate exhibition in 1965, when the artist was twenty-three years old. The layout of 'Allegory' derives from Grünewald's 'Isenheim' Altarpiece, but the subject matter is autobiographical. As a student, Bellany had a Saturday job gutting fish in Port Seton, a small fishing village south of Edinburgh. The setting of 'Allegory' is a mixture of Port Seton and Eyemouth (another fishing port), where Bellany's grandparents lived. The gutted haddock, displayed in the manner of the Crucifixion, become metaphors for suffering humanity; the passive fishermen replace Christ's family and the Roman soldiers. Bellany has given religious monumentality to a real-life scene.

John Bellany

John Bellany