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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Gallery's coup over nude Madonna
Madonna with husband Guy Ritchie
Madonna did not pose for the portrait
A nude portrait of Madonna is to receive its world premiere in a renovated stable block in Scotland, it has emerged.

Artist Peter Howson was offered substantial sums to open an exhibition containing the work in New York, Paris, Los Angeles or Italy.

But the leading Scottish contemporary artist has ensured that the painting will be seen first in his home country.

The work will go on display at the MacLaurin Art Gallery in Ayr from 13 April.

'Not recognisable'

The gallery, which hosts temporary and touring exhibitions, was created from a renovated stable block at Rozelle House in Rozelle Park.

Howson's exhibition, entitled New Works, is due to run until 4 June.

Referring to the eagerly-awaited portrait, a source at the gallery said: "The figure in the painting is not really recognisable as Madonna.

"You wouldn't know it was her unless someone told you."

Madonna is an avid collector of Howson's work and the pop star has posed fully clothed for the painter in the past.

Wider attention

However, it is believed that Howson had to paint the latest work from his imagination as Madonna's husband, British film director Guy Ritchie, did not want her to pose nude.

Howson first came to wider public attention in the 1980s as one of the 'New Glasgow Boys'.

His paintings earned him an international reputation, and his collections are held in the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, London's Tate Gallery and New York's Museum of Modern Art.

During the Balkans conflict he became the official British war artist.

Howson was awarded the Glasgow Lord Provost's Medal in 1995 and received an honorary degree from the University of Strathclyde in 1996.

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