ABERDEEN'S former Lord Provost James Wyness last night expressed his delight at a portrait of himself which was unveiled and will be hung in the Town House.

However, the background of the ``wonderful painting by a marvellous artist'' is not what was originally intended.

The painting, by Gray's School of Art senior lecturer Sandy Fraser, shows Councillor Wyness in front of St Machar Cathedral.

At one stage, however, it is understood the background was the Wallace Tower, a few hundred yards from the cathedral, which Mr Wyness once occupied.

Mr Wyness and the artist were saying little about the change yesterday. The former lord provost, who had 15 sittings for the painting which will hang in the St Nicholas Room of the Town House with other recent provosts, would say only how delighted he was and ``obviously discussions took place during the sittings''.

Mr Fraser, who has painted many prominent personalities, said: ``There was an adjustment made to the background but that is neither here nor there. There was a very good reason for it being changed. I think everyone agreed.

``The feature in the background is St Machar's and it is simply to confirm the person in the painting is Provost of Aberdeen.''

He said St Machar was an internationally recognised landmark in Aberdeen. The Wallace Tower, which, contrary to popular opinion, has nothing whatsoever to do with Sir William Wallace, originally stood in the heart of Aberdeen. Its name is a corruption of the original Wells Tower.

It was demolished 32 years ago to make way for Marks and Spencer and Lord Sieff, chairman of the company, paid for it to be rebuilt at the Motte of Tillydrone on the edge of Seaton Park.

Mr Wyness, a retired history teacher, moved in with his family before becoming a councillor but there was controversy during his tenancy because of the low rent and rates, which were comparable to any other three-bedroomed council house in the city.

When he moved out, largely because of ill-health, no-one wanted the city's ``most desirable council house'' in spite of a large waiting list.

While the flagstone floors, spiral staircase, and 40 square metre living room with stone walls may have been attractive, the heating bills were rather large.

There was also a steady stream of passers by who knocked on the door asking to see round the seventeenth-century Category A listed building.