John Bellany was born in Port Seton, and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art between 1960-65. His first one-man show was held in Holland after a travelling scholarship had taken him to Holland and Belgium. He studied at the Royal College of Art in London between 1965-68, and became Head of Painting at Croydon College of Art in 1974. In 1988 he underwent major liver surgery, and this experience led to a series of very personal portraits, depicting family members, and relating to his illness and convalescence. He is best known for his figure compositions, often on a very large scale, influenced by the work of Francis Bacon and Max Beckmann.