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John Bellany RA, The Pianist Entertains

The Pianist Entertains, 1987

John Bellany RA (1942 - 2013)

RA Collection: Art

Being born into a family of fishermen and brought up as a strict Calvinist in the village of Port Seton, near Edinburgh have both had a profound effect on Bellany’s art in terms of subject matter and as a constant reminder of the frailty of human existence. This became more personal during the time The Pianist Entertains was painted as Bellany was seriously ill and only survived thanks to a life-saving operation in 1988.

Bellany’s work includes many autobiographical references. In the top left corner he includes a detail of a fishing boat, the Star of Bethlehem, in reference to his childhood.The theme of fate is also explored. The characters play a game of cards, a game of luck, and the two visible cards are the Ace of Hearts a symbol of love, and the Ace of Clubs, which resembles a celtic cross and thus symbolizes virtue.

Object details

The Pianist Entertains
John Bellany RA (1942 - 2013)
Object type
Copyright owner
Oil on canvas

1716 mm x 1515 mm x 35 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by John Bellany RA accepted 1992
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