The self-taught painter, whose images such as The Singing Butler and Dance Me To The End Of Love are phenomenally successful as prints and posters, was in Glasgow to launch Jack Vettriano: A Retrospective, an exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow. It will run until February 23.
The Fife-born painter, 61, whose erotically-charged figurative paintings have often been dismissed by art critics, said he was overwhelmed at seeing the 100-painting display in the ground floor of the gallery.
The show will not be repeated in the painter's lifetime, his agent said, and it includes his most popular works, such as The Singing Butler, Bluebird At Bonneville and The Billy Boys, as well as what he considers to be his strongest painting, a self-portrait called The Weight.
Vettriano, who used to "skive off" work in Glasgow to visit the Kelvingrove to study its paintings, said: "If I had come in here alone I would have cried, I honestly would have.
"It's so emotional that words like 'amazement' and 'astonishment' don't even touch the emotion I am feeling, and I have to say I feel so much for Glasgow now.
"Arriving yesterday and seeing it all, it makes my heart swell. The editorial in The Herald (last week) said there was 'validation' in this exhibition and that is what I felt.
"I still can't quite believe I am worthy. There is a sense of this, 'I got lucky, I got bloody lucky' at a time when no one else was doing what I was doing.
"I was also lucky I got a good bit of press and TV and radio, and I feel I have been blessed."
The exhibition features paintings from collections in eight countries, and from 72 lenders, including the artist, as well as new film and video.
Vettriano acknowledges he has grown as a painter over the years, since he became a full-time artist 20 years ago.
"What has worried me, for about the last year, is how people would react to the early paintings," he said.
"Because it is limited, and it is a bit naive - I could go through those early works now and say, 'That's wrong, that's wrong and that's bad', but that's what a retrospective is for - I don't care if people come in and say, 'Look at this stuff' because if you walk round you will see that I developed.
"You will see I developed from someone whose palette was limited, whose mind was limited, and whose technical skill was certainly limited, but I like to think I have become a person who has mastered much of that. I am loving it."
The exhibition catalogue features a foreword by Scottish author AL Kennedy and thanks First Minister Alex Salmond in its acknowledgements.
He said the Italian composer Ennio Morricone would be his next collaborator, and Vettriano will be painting him in Rome.
"His management team contacted me and said Morricone is a fan of my work and is there any way we can collaborate? I was astonished - Morricone is a fan of my work?" he said.
Vettriano hopes the two can work on a series of paintings accompanied by the composer's music, with music scored specifically for individual paintings.
"I am going to Rome in six weeks to paint him for a portrait, and I want him in full conductor's gear, and I want him lit from underneath, like Degas lit his dancers - I can see it my mind's eye," he said.
Natalie Martin, Vettriano's agent, said she expected the show to be a record-breaker.
"I think it looks magnificent, and it has been a great job to curate and assess 20 years of work, but all the collectors have been astonishingly generous," she said.
"We are immensely aware this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, certainly in Europe, within Jack's lifetime. We think this will be the only time it will be done."
Councillor Archie Graham, chairman of Glasgow Life, which runs the city's museums and art galleries, said: "This is a unique opportunity to celebrate the career so far of Scotland's most famous living artist."