A PAINTING by one of the most important English artists of the 19th century is set to visit Southampton.

William Stott of Oldham’s Le Passeur was painted in 1881 and shows two girls by a river at dusk as they watch ‘the ferryman’ of the title cross the water.

Recently acquired by London’s Tate gallery, it will visit Southampton City Art Gallery in 2018 as one of only four UK galleries to show the work.

Hailed as a ‘mesmerising’ and ‘enigmatic’ depiction of a simple everyday scene, the painting was revered when shown at the prestigious Paris Salon of 1882, and helped cement Stott’s reputation as one of England’s finest painters.

But although Stott’s work was much less popular in England at the time, it has since been proven instrumental to the development of British painting, influencing the work of the anti-establishment Glasgow Boys - including Charles Rennie Mackintosh - as well as inspiring ‘modern realists’ such as George Clausen and marking a break in the English classical tradition.

Painted at Grez-sur-Loing near Paris, it was made while Stott was part of a community of international artists who had decamped to France.

Cllr Satvir Kaur, cabinet member for communities, culture & leisure at Southampton City Council said the council is “delighted” about Le Passeur’s visit.

She said: “We’re always striving to bring the best of traditional and modern art to Southampton City Art Gallery for local residents and visitors alike to take advantage of and enjoy. The gallery has a close relationship with Tate.”