Aitchison's slashed self-portrait bought by gallery

Craigie Aitchison Self portrait Aitchison was known for his distinctive style and imagery

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A self-portrait by the late Craigie Aitchison, who defaced it after an onlooker called it "flattering", has been bought by the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Aitchison, who was averse to self-promotion, insisted it could only be restored if the cuts remained visible.

The painting, dating from late 1950s or early 1960s, remained in the artist's possession until his death in 2009.

It will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London on Tuesday.

"Craigie Aitchison was a highly distinctive artist whose singular vision was rooted in an acute sensitivity to colour and subtle implications of meaning," said Paul Moorhouse, curator of twentieth century portraits.

"We are delighted that this fascinating self-portrait survived the artist's momentary destructive doubts and can now be seen by future generations."

Born in Kincardine-on-Forth in 1926, Aitchison studied in Italy and was heavily influenced by early Renaissance painters.

He was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1978, won the Jerwood Painting Prize in 1994 and was awarded a CBE in 1999.

Major retrospectives of his work have been held at the Serpentine Gallery, the Royal Academy in London and the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow.

An artist and printmaker, he was respected as a painter of visionary, religious and portrait subjects, which helped bring him a considerable following.

The National Gallery has portraits of Aitchison in its photographs collection, but this is the first painted portrait of the artist it has acquired.

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