ARTWORK by a legendary world famous Greenock painter has fetched nearly £640,000 at a top auction house.
The painting In the Orchard by Sir James Guthrie went under the hammer recently at Sotheby's auction house in London and was bought for the vast sum, part financed to the tune of £400,000 by the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
It sold for £637,500 and some of the money was also put forward by the National Gallery of Scotland which will now display the stunning artwork at its gallery in Edinburgh for the next three years.
The painting features two children playing in rural woodland and was painted by Guthrie in 1885/6, receiving international acclaim soon after it was unveiled.
Guthrie, who was born in Greenock and lived from 1859-1930, was one of the famous Glasgow Boys group of painters and is an internationally renowned artist.
John Leighton, director-general of the NGS, said: "Guthrie's In the Orchard is a key masterpiece in the story of Scottish art and, at a time when funding is obviously very scarce, it is entirely fitting NGS and Glasgow City Council should join forces to acquire this iconic work for the public.
"We are immensely grateful to the NHMF and the Art Fund for their rapid and very generous support, which has allowed us to move quickly to secure this extremely important work at auction."
Sir James was born in Greenock in 1859 and lived until 1930.
He was the son of Reverend John Guthrie D.D, one of the founders of the Evangelical Union Church.
Sir James entered Glasgow University to study law, but left without taking his degree to train as a painter.
He was essentially self-taught, although he received encouragement in his career from a number of successful Scottish artists working in London.
Guthrie became one of the most prominent Scottish portrait painters and received many honours including a knighthood in 1903.
Another of his works, The Careenage, is on display in the McLean Museum.
Provost Robert Moran said: "James Guthrie is one of Greenock's many famous sons.
"The Orchard is a celebrated piece of Scottish art history and it is welcome news that this masterpiece will be available to view across Scotland for residents and visitors to enjoy.
"Here in Greenock we have a painting by James Guthrie which has pride of place at our own McLean Museum - The Careenage, Bridgetown, Barbados - and I would encourage people to pay the museum a visit as part of their enjoyment of Guthrie's work."