A major new exhibition which focusses on the work of Scottish female artists, telling a story that has been "waiting to be told", will open at the National Galleries of Scotland this weekend.

The exhibition, Modern Scottish Women: Painters and Sculptors 1885-1965 is the first major exhibition of work by only women artists to be staged at the galleries, and covers the work of 45 artists, many not well known to the public and rarely or never exhibited.

Alice Strang, Senior Curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and curator of the Modern Scottish Women show, said: "Every artist and every work in this exhibition has a story to tell about being a female art student and professional artist.

"We hope that our visitors will enjoy learning about their experiences and discovering their wonderful creations."

The show is being staged at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two).

She added: "I think there will be a lot of artists in the exhibition that the public has not heard of, but we hope they come in and say 'gosh that's a fantastic painting, a fantastic sculpture - who is she, what happened to her?'

"I think there is a message here, not only for women art students or those thinking of becoming art students - a lot of the issues that these artists faced, we still face today: how do you juggle your professional life and your personal life? And children? And so on."

Many of the painters and sculptors had short careers - some were successful during their lifetimes and have since been forgotten, while other artists in the show have not yet received recognition.

Ms Strang chose the exhibition from more than 200 potential artists.

She said: "What we realised is during the eighty years that we studied, an unprecedented number of women trained and practiced as artists, and that is interesting in terms of Scottish history - why was that, and what was that possible?

"I feel that is a part of Scottish art history which has been waiting to be told, perhaps we didn't realise it was there and we have been able to uncover it."

The 45 artists in the show include Bessie MacNicol, Phoebe Anne Traquair and Gertrude Alice Meredith Williams as well as Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, Dorothy Johnstone, Hazel Armour, Phyllis Bone, Joan Eardley and Bet Low.

The exhibition begins in 1885, the year in which the Glasgow School of Art appointed as its director Fra Newberry, who was known for his encouragement of female staff and students.

Its chronology ends in 1965 with the death of Anne Redpath.

More than 90 paintings and sculptures are set to be shown, taken from the National Galleries of Scotland’s holdings and from other public collections throughout the UK, as well as from private collections.

Geoffrey Bertram, Chairman of The Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Charitable Trust, said: “It is with great pleasure that the Trust is supporting this significant exhibition, which introduces many artists who are not as well-known as they should be.

"Wilhelmina Barns-Graham would have affirmed from her own experiences the extra challenges women artists encountered."