AN oil painting by one of Blackburn's most famous artists is expected to fetch thousands of pounds when it is auctioned at Sotheby's next week.

The painting, La Bella Andaluza, features a slinky 1920s beauty and was created by Thomas Cantrell Dugdale, born in Blackburn in 1880.

Dugdale, the only Blackburn artist to be elected to the prestigious Royal Academy -- an artistic 'hall of fame' based in London -- originally sold the painting for £315 but it is expected to fetch £7,000 on January 19.

Now in the hands of a UK private collector, who has not been named, the painting is thought to portray a famous socialite of the time.

When he died in November 1952, Dugdale was praised in obituaries as an "impulsive, emotional man, greatly liked by his associates. His generosity to brother artists, in material ways as well as its appreciation, was famous."

Dugdale was educated at Manchester Grammar School and trained at Manchester school of art.

He is one of just 576 people elected to the Royal Academy since its creation in 1768 and the honour meant he was judged one of the best artists of his generation.

Other artists to have been given the same honour include Turner and Constable.

Some of Dugdale's painting now hang in the National Portrait Gallery, London, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Imperial War Museum and Tate Britain.

He painted La Bella Andaluza in the 1920s, and it is thought to portray Lady Ottoline Morrell, a cousin of the Queen Mother.

Lady Ottoline was famous as the inspiration for one of the characters in the DH Lawrence book, Women in Love.

Later in his life, Dugdale moved to Suffolk, helping to run the Home Guard during the Second World War.

He was married to an award-winning artist named Amy Browning, and the couple had no children.

Dugdale was also a book illustrator, working on books such as Cinderella.

Blackburn has produced only two Royal Academicians. The other is Alison Wilding, a sculptor born in July 1948.