A previously unknown portrait of Scotland's favourite son, 18th century poet Robert Burns, has been discovered at a provincial auction house in England.
18th century Scottish paintings expert, Cambridge University's Dr David Mackie, authenticated the oil on canvas, thought to have been painted by Scottish artist Alexander Nasmyth, subsequent to its appearance at auction.
The painting represents the only known example of a Burns portrait painted from life in private hands.
The painting's present owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, now hopes that a public gallery will pay £2m ($3m) to take the portrait off his hands.
Although he declined to disclose how much he paid for the painting, the present owner told Scottish newspaper The Herald: "Sometimes auction houses just miss things and in this case, it seems they did not know everything about the painting and how important it was.
"I saw it and I thought it was interesting… I am very impressed by it."
Dr Mackie told the publication: "It is in good condition and is a really charming little picture."
Imogen Gibbon, senior curator at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, added: "This is a very interesting discovery. I would say often people approach museums and galleries with what they think is a new portrait of Burns, but often they date from the 20th or late 19th century, but this appears to be an exception."
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