A £1.4 million sculpture which was found propping open the door of a shed is to be exhibited at the Louvre.

The 18th century bust of Highland laird and MP Sir John Gordon was discovered by Councillor Maxine Smith in 1998.

The artwork, created in 1728 by Edme Bouchardon, will form part of an exhibition celebrating the French sculptor.

After its visit to the Louvre, the sculpture will be housed in the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Councillor Maxine Smith was a community activist when she discovered the bust 18 years ago.

She found the sculpture in an industrial estate in the village of Balintore, Easter Ross.

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She said: "I started asking the council what happened to the old provost's robes and chains were and one of the Highland councillors suggested I try this shed.

"I managed to get the key from the council. I found the robes and there was this bust just propping the door open.

"I went back to the council and said that there's a bunch of stuff that looks like it's worth a lot of money and they need to get it out in case someone steals them.

Smith thinks that the bust must have been put in the shed in the late 80s or early 90s, during a council reshuffle.

"It was about a year before we were told how much it was worth. It was quite a shock and delight because I found before it could have got stolen," Smith recalled.

She is delighted that the bust is going on tour.

"I think that's fantastic. Anything that puts the Highlands in the spotlight is a good thing and it's great that people are getting pleasure out of something old,” she said.

"We couldn't display the painting because we couldn't afford the insurance. So when it's in Scotland it has to be stored in Inverness museum."

The bust will return to its Highland home in spring 2017.

Photo credit: SWNS