A PAINTING by a prolific 19th century artist has last week returned to the Wee County, some 140 years after it was put on canvas.

The painting of Cambus, by portrait and landscape artist Hugh Collins, was purchased by Tullibody historian Chris Calder after it turned up at a church sale in Edinburgh.

Showcasing what the village was like close to a century and a half ago, the artist captured the view from the gates of the distillery in Cambus.

Amazingly, today's view is not much more different in the small Wee County village, where the painter is understood to have lived for a short while.

The work was among a number of pictures on sale in Edinburgh as part of a drive by Lady Mary Davidson to raise funds for Christian Aid.

However, it generated no interest from buyers which prompted organisers to decipher a pencilled note on the back to figure out the location.

Upon learning about where the image was painted, organisers used their contacts to find Clacks expert Chris, chair of Tullibody History Group.

She told the Advertiser: "I thought she [Lady Davidson] was phoning me to tell me she loved the painting and I thought she had bought it and she wanted me to see it."

instead, Chris was last week offered a chance to buy the painting, something she could not resist.

The historian said: "Cambus has hardly changed from the picture.

"He's [Collins] exhibited at the RSA [Royal Scottish Academy]; he is a prolific and very good artist and portrait painter.

"It's now 140 years old at least this painting – and it's come back to Tullibody."

It is understood Hugh Collins, who was born in 1834 and died in 1896 in Broughty Ferry, moved around a lot in his time and other than Cambus, he stayed on Ochil Street in Alloa as well as at Bedford Place.

His portraits can be found around The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Dundee Art Galleries and Museums, venues further down south as well as private collections.

Cambus may be a relatively quiet village nowadays, but back in the artist's time it served as an active port with mills, a brewery and a distillery – as described by Drew Jamieson's book Tullibody and Cambus – From Croft to Commuter Community.

Chris was taken aback by how similar the scene in the small Wee County village still is.

She was able to describe the function of most buildings when she showed it off in The Inn at Cambus, located down the street in the painting.

Chris said: "The only one that isn't there today is the farmsteads at the back of the picture where the tree is.

"Virtually everything else looks the same; I could tell them that the brewery had been down Forth Street and the distillery was behind where he painted from – I was just gobsmacked, really."