ITwas bought for only GBP8200, but at the time some thought it an expensive, old-fashioned and eccentric luxury.

Today Salvador Dali's Christ of St John of The Cross, part of Glasgow's city art collection, is now Scotland's favourite painting.

Hundreds of votes have poured into The Herald in the past month for our poll to find the nation's favourite painting, and the Dali image, which is to be returned to what many feel is its rightful home at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum next year, won by some distance.

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The poll - which "captured the public's imagination" according to Elizabeth Cameron, the lord provost of Glasgow - began last month after the BBC and the National Gallery in London began a search for Britain's most popular painting.

It was feared that such a poll would be skewed towards the tastes of the English public, and indeed works held in London galleries dominate the shortlist for the BBC poll.

After weeks of voting by post, e-mail and text, Dali's iconic work eventually topped The Herald's poll with 29per cent of the votes cast. It was followed by Avril Paton's Windows in the West, also part of the Glasgow Museums collection. In third place came Joan Eardley's Flood Tide, ahead of a Colourist work, Orange Blind by FCB Cadell.

The only Scottish painting on the BBC shortlist, The Rev Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, attributed to Sir Henry Raeburn, came seventh with 6per cent of the votes cast.

The vote marks a triumph for civic art collecting. The Dali was bought by Dr Tom Honeyman, the director of Glasgow's Museums, in the early 1950s and even though the price included - in a stroke of fiscal inspiration - the now lucrative copyright to the picture, it was a controversial purchase.

Richard Calvocoressi, the director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, said:

"Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross is justifiably one of the best-known and best-loved pictures in Scotland.

"Its purchase marked an extraordinarily imaginative gesture by Tom Honeyman and his colleagues on the City Council when the city was facing huge social problems - housing, health, employment - which might have been seen as higher priorities.

"But for many people, children especially, it was their first glimpse of modern art and also their first awakening, perhaps, that, in the hands of a master, painting could still express higher, spiritual ideals."

Leading figures at Glasgow City Council were delighted with the result last night.

Lord provost Cameron, the lord provost, said: "I am thrilled to learn that the Dali has been voted Scotland's favourite painting.

" We feel that this recognition cements the place that the painting holds in the hearts of people across Scotland, and is due praise for the foresight of Dr Tom Honeyman.

Patricia Ferguson, the culture minister, said that the painting had a special place in her heart and in the hearts of countless Scots.

"It is a genuine national treasure of which we should be proud, " she added.

The masterpiece is now worth many tens of millions of pounds. It went on show at the Kelvingrove gallery on June 23, 1952 .

Dr Honeyman first saw the painting, created by the Spanish surrealist in 1951, in the Lefevre Gallery in London.

The price was reduced from GBP12,000 and included copyrigh. Reproduction fees from print and postcard sales over the years have justified Dr Honeyman's decision many times over.

PERCENTAGE OF VOTES 1 Christ of St John of the Cross Salvador Dali 29 per cent 2 Windows in the West Avril Paton 18 per cent 3 Flood Tide Joan Eardley 11 per cent 4 Orange Blind FCB Cadell 8per cent 5 Tay Bridge James McIntosh Patrick 7 per cent 6 Lady Taking Tea Chardin 7per cent 7 Rev. Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch Raeburn 6per cent 8 Man in Armour Rembrandt 6per cent 9 Lady Agnew of Lochnaw JS Sargent 5per cent 10 Lady in a Fur Wrap El Greco 3per cent