The painter died surrounded by his family following a long spell of ill health.
Tributes poured in on Twitter from well known writers such as Ian Rankin, and some of his legion of admirers.
Crime writer Ian Rankin tweeted: "So sad to hear from that John Bellany has died. A painter whose life was as deep and full as the seas he painted."
Mr Bellany's works adorned the walls of galleries the world over, but he had been fighting a formidable list of health problems in recent years.
In 2005, his life was saved through the intervention of a passing nurse when he collapsed in the street. He had suffered a heart attack while heading towards the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, where an exhibition of his work was about to open.
For eight months up to then he had been virtually housebound in the flat he then shared in Edinburgh with his wife Helen after a prolonged bout of pneumonia.
Three years ago it was revealed he was suffering from the condition macular degeneration, which causes loss of central vision, making faces hard to recognise.
As an alcoholic, he was forced to become teetotal after a liver transplant in 1988. He lived with his family in Essex, but was originally from Port Seaton in East Lothian.
In November, last year, he was celebrated by a major retrospective in the Scottish National Gallery, John Bellany: A Passion for Life.