Alison Watt unveils self-portrait at Scottish National Portrait Gallery

  • 11 April 2012

The Art Fund has helped the Scottish National Portrait Gallery buy a striking self-portrait by one of Scotland's greatest living artists…

Alison Watt, Self Portrait, 1986…7 Scottish National Portrait Gallery, © Alison Watt / Photo: Antonia Reeve

Alison Watt, Self Portrait, 1986…7

Alison Watt has unveiled a striking self-portrait at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which has bought the work with help from the Art Fund. Painted while the Watt was still a student, the painting was presented to celebrate the reopening of the Gallery in December 2011.

The work

Best known for her complex and enigmatic paintings of folded drapery, Alison Watt has rarely engaged in formal portraiture since her early career, when she would stand in front of the mirror and paint herself obsessively. This self-portrait has only been exhibited once before, in 1990 - painted while Watt was ill, it shows the artist with her right hand across her forehead, as if she is taking her temperature or about to faint.

Nicola Kalinsky, Interim Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, said, ‘The Art Fund’s gesture in presenting this exquisite self-portrait by one of the most interesting artists to emerge from Scotland in recent years was hugely generous. Marking the reopening of the Portrait Gallery, this acquisition underlines our commitment to exploring contemporary portraiture and showcasing Scottish talent.’

The artist

Born in Greenock in 1965, Watt studied at the Glasgow School of Art. In 1987 she won the National Portrait Gallery's annual portrait award, and was commissioned to paint the Queen. She became the youngest artist ever to be given a solo exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2000.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said, 'Like the museum, Alison Watt is deeply embedded in her Scottish context yet also of international stature, and the Art Fund is pleased to be saluting them both through this grant'.


Browse other works by Alison Watt bought with help from the Art Fund.

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