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‘Girl by window’ by Edwin G. Lucas, signed and dated 1950, oil on canvas, 3ft x 4ft (91cm x 1.22m) – £5500 from Bourne Fine Art.

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But the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has just acquired five 1940s works by this little-known Scottish painter who, if not committed to the movement, certainly flirted with surrealism for over a decade.

"They are impressive because they are inexplicable," said Patrick Elliott, senior curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

"I've not seen anything quite like them before in my 20 years at the gallery: there's a bit of Picasso, but overall he's got nothing in common with anyone painting in Scotland at the time - or in fact anywhere else."

Early Talent

Born in Leith, Edwin George Lucas (1911-90) was talented from an early age but was discouraged from becoming a painter as his uncle, although a successful artist, had struggled to make a living from painting.

He studied law then worked in the civil service, but always thought of himself as an artist with a day job.

Although self-taught, he took evening classes at Edinburgh College of Art and, in the late 1930s, he associated with some innovative students there, including Wilhelmina Barns-Graham from whom he rented a studio in 1939.

This is when Lucas became interested in Surrealism and over the next 12 years he produced an unusual body of work, initially inspired by Magritte but later developing a more individual style.

The 11 paintings currently on show at Bourne Fine Art in Edinburgh are from this period, consigned to the gallery by the artist's estate in the wake of the national gallery purchases.

The works, on view from March 27 until April 17 at 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, have been kept in storage since Lucas's last major solo exhibition in 1951.

Prices range from £2500 to £5500.