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First Minister unveils new portrait to celebrate Scotland Week

The painting will be part of a new exhibition of prominent Scots which will open in New York.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Elaine C Smith and Denise Mina with new portraits March 10 2015
© STV

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled a new portrait of herself by a leading Scots artist, forming part of an exhibition for the launch of Scotland Week in New York.

The likeness was painted by contemporary artist Gerard M Burns and was revealed alongside portraits of comedienne Elaine C Smith, and celebrated author Denise Mina.

Scotland Week will begin in New York on April 7 and the artist said the exhibition, titled A Brush with Inspiration, is a celebration of inspirational Scots.

Ms Sturgeon unveiled her portrait on Tuesday at an event in Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister.

Gerard M Burns has been painting full time for more than 15 years and has carved out a reputation as one of Scotland's most prominent contemporary artists.

His work is sought after by a number of prominent figures including one painting bought by former First Minister Alex Salmond which now hangs above his desk in the Scottish Parliament.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon new portrait and artist Gerard M Burns at Bute House Edinburgh March 10 2015 quality news image
© HEMEDIA / SWNS Group

Ms Sturgeon said: "I think it is a fantastic painting, put aside what people think of me in the painting - that's for other people to judge.

"Gerard is such an amazing artist and I guess what I was looking at was not just how I look in the painting, although I think it captures me pretty well, but it is all the incredible detail around it from the Raeburn of Niel Gow to some of the intricate details of the surroundings.

"It's just an amazing piece of art and I think it is very, very impressive."

She added: "It's a bit strange to see myself on canvas but Gerard is such a talented artist and it's a big honour to be part of this exhibition. I'm very happy with it."

The portrait, which was painted from a photograph taken in the same room, sees Ms Sturgeon in the red dress she wore on the day she was voted in as First Minister in November last year.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with new portrait by artist Gerard M Burns at Bute House Edinburgh March 10 2015 quality news image
© HEMEDIA / SWNS Group

Artist Burns said: "I decided I wanted to do something that celebrated the various aspects of who she is.

"The fact that she is the first female First Minister, her youth, her femininity, her confidence. So, I had a whole load of things that I wanted this painting to be.

"The photo session is crucial, I had about an hour with her and at one point she stood watching me and I thought 'that's it, that's the shot, it's perfect'. It's got a wee bit of swagger about it, a wee bit of gallus."

Kirsty Wark, Helena Kennedy QC and up and coming Scots actress Laura Fraser have also been painted along with leading men, Ewan McGregor, Billy Connolly, Brian Cox and Alan Cumming, composer Craig Armstrong and club owner Alan Linn.

Figures from the world of business are also featured, such as designer Iona Crawford, chief executive Martin Gilbert, financier Donna Nairi, and businesswoman Lynda Logan.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon new portrait and artist Gerard M Burns at Bute House Edinburgh March 10 2015 quality news image
© HEMEDIA / SWNS Group

Scotland Week was launched seven years ago by the Scottish Government to celebrate Scots history and culture and to raise the country's profile in the US.

More than 50m people across the world claim Scottish ancestry with the majority of them in the USA and Canada.

The annual event includes a full programme of music, theatre, and art.

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