Vettriano is accused of copying (yet again)

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Just weeks ago the self-taught, Fife-born artist was lambasted for drawing inspiration for some of his most classic early works from a £16.99 photographic manual of models in various poses intended as a guide for illustrators.

Now the former miner has been accused of copying the work of the impressionist Peter Severin Kroyer. A garden scene painted by Vettriano in his early days, when he still used his birth name of Hoggan, bears a striking similarity to Marie In The Garden painted by Kroyer in 1889.

Last October the work by Vettriano was valued on an episode of the BBC's Antiques Roadshow at up to £20,000.

Werner Conn, from Lancashire, recognised the similarity between the Vettriano and Kroyer paintings when he saw it on the programme. "It was amazingly similar to the Danish artist Peter Severin Kroyer's picture of his wife titled Marie in the Garden. What I saw to my amazement was that it was signed Jack Hoggan, Vettriano's earlier attribution, without reference to Kroyer," he told the Daily Record newspaper.

Vettriano, appointed an OBE for services to the visual arts two years ago, has never made any secret that in his early days he had taught himself how to paint by copying the works of other great artists.

Five years ago the 53-year-old artist said he had copied several pieces during his early days. "Around the time I got married, I got my starter pack of oils. I used to do a mishmash of copying - Dali, Renaissance, Impressionist - because I didn't have an original thought at all, and if I did I would have laughed at it."

Born Jack Hoggan in St Andrews on 17 November 1951, he quit the mines aged 19 and had a number of different of jobs before becoming a painter at 22. It was then that he took his mother's maiden name, Vettrino, and added an "a". He may have started off copying the work of others, but his paintings have made him one of Britain's most popular modern artists.

His works now sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds. But his talent has often been spurned by the establishment, even though his most famous work The Singing Butler, is the best-selling print in Europe and more popular than Monet's Water Lilies or Van Gogh's Sunflowers. None of his work hangs in a major British public gallery and critics have slated his efforts as "populist and unchallenging".

Tom Hewlett, Vettriano's agent and proprietor of the Portland Gallery in London, described the "revelations" yesterday as: "a complete non-story. Jack has always said he taught himself to paint by copying other artists' work in galleries, books or catalogues. The majority of work he did under the name Hoggan, before he changed it to Vettriano, were copies of paintings by acknowledged artists. Anybody who bothered to read his biography would see that he has always acknowledged this."