A GROUP of Surrealist paintings which were completed by a talented but obscure amateur painter and were stored for years in a lock-up have been acquired by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Five paintings by Leith's Edwin Lucas, a painter who was unknown to the arts establishment until a 2011 exhibition of Surrealism, are now hanging at the national galleries.

Patrick Elliott, senior curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, found the works after being informed of them by Lucas's son, Alan, and said he had been "amazed" by what he had found.

He said: "I was contacted by Alan Lucas who told me that his father was a Scottish Surrealist.

"I went along to see the Lucas's collection and was amazed by what Alan had on display in his house... we then had a look at paintings in the storage unit and I was blown away."

He added: "Most of these pictures haven't been seen for 60 years.

"They are impressive because they are inexplicable, I've not seen anything quite like them before in my 20 years at the Gallery of Modern Art: there's a bit of Picasso, but overall he's got nothing in common with anyone painting in Scotland at the time - or in fact anywhere else."

Mr Lucas worked for the civil service his entire life, encouraged away from a life as a painter.

Painted between 1939 and 1949, the works demonstrate the artist's highly individual take on Surrealism and are said to be unprecedented in Scottish art of the period.

They are now on show at the Edinburgh gallery, as part of the gallery's New Acquisitions exhibition.

Mr Lucas was born in Leith in 1911 and educated at George Heriot's school.

He showed promise in drawing and painting at an early age, but his family discouraged him from considering art as a career.

This was due to the fate of his uncle, E.G.Handel Lucas, who is now a well regarded Victorian artist but struggled to make a decent living and lived the latter part of his life in poverty. Lucas attended life drawing evening classes at Edinburgh College of Art but was otherwise entirely self-taught.

Towards the end of the 1930s, he discovered Surrealism, probably after seeing one of a few Surrealism shows staged in Edinburgh at that time.

He exhibited regularly in Edinburgh from 1933 onwards and held solo shows at the New Gallery in Shandwick Place, Edinburgh, in 1950 and 1951.

Following his marriage in 1952, he virtually stopped painting.

His work remained almost unknown and he died in 1990.