An LS Lowry painting of a crowd going to a rugby league game is to go on show for the first time since 1966.
The artwork, entitled Going To The Match, is being sold at auction and has been valued at between £2m and £3m.
The 1928 work shows crowds heading to a rugby league match, possibly depicting fans of Lowry’s local team Salford Red Devils.
The piece has been in the same family collection since 1972 and was exhibited only once, 55 years ago.
Lowry’s paintings of sporting scenes more commonly feature football crowds, such as one work purchased for £1.9m by the Professional Footballers Association in 1999.
Questions remain about how many of his paintings featured rugby crowds, with Christie’s auction house last year selling a piece thought to be the only one of its kind at the time.
Sotheby’s auction house believes the latest exhibit to be the artist’s earliest painting of a sporting subject of any kind.
Frances Christie, Sotheby’s head of modern and post-war British art, said: “It’s crowds that really, really fascinated Lowry throughout his whole life.
“In all of his subjects, it’s always the crowd within the setting that he gets drawn to.”
Ms Christie said the painting “shines a real light on the social history of the time and how important rugby was then for those northern communities”.
“This was painted nearly 100 years ago but we all still go to a match just like those people in the picture,” she said.
“For a contemporary audience, it’s still really authentic.
“I think particularly when we haven’t been able to go to a match properly over the last year, I sort of think this image should resonate with any sort of sport fan, regardless of what sport it is.”
Interest in the Lowry painting is likely to come from around the world, she added.
Going To The Match will be displayed in London from 22-29 June ahead of its sale on 29 June and will also be shown in New York, Edinburgh and Dublin.