A WOLLASTON artist's prized official 400th anniversary portrait of the world's greatest playwright is set to go under the hammer at auction.

Professional painter and cartoonist Geoff Tristram, of Eggington Road, was invited to paint the official portrait of William Shakespeare to mark the milestone anniversary of The Bard's death.

He reckons the oil painting, which took months to complete and cost him a small fortune, is the "the most important piece" he has ever worked on - and it's now set to go up for sale at Fieldings Auctioneers in Stourbridge with a price tag of £10,000 to £15,000.

Geoff, aged 63, who created the famous Cat Conundrum puzzles and pictures, says as part of his research for the epic project he dug out copies of just about every existing painting of Shakespeare, every etching, wood cut, bust and statue purporting to be of the great man. He even found The Bard's death mask.

The elaborate framed piece, which depicts a middle-aged Shakespeare before a writing desk working on his script for Hamlet, was created as part of a partnership with Stratford-upon-Avon district and town councils and it was unveiled at the town hall in Stratford, Shakespeare's home town, as part of 2016 celebrations around April 23 - the date on which the Bard was born and died.

Geoff said: "It was a big deal for me. I really took it seriously; it was something I always dreamed of doing."

Auctioneer Will Farmer, director at Fieldings Auctioneers, said: "It is a truly unique piece, the only Stratford-approved, 400th anniversary oil painting in existence.

"It's estimated at £10,000 to £15,000 but the amount of hours that Geoff put into painting it - it should be many, many times more than that.

"It's an internationally important piece of art and we're really chuffed that Geoff's picked us to auction it.

The one-off piece of artwork, complete with gilt and painted customised frame, is set to go under the hammer at Fieldings Auctioneers, Mill Race Lane, Stourbridge, on Saturday September 2.

It can be viewed online at fieldingsauctioneers.co.uk or at the auction house from 10am to 4pm on Thursday August 31, from 10am to 8pm on Friday September 1 and from 8am until the sale starts at 10am on the Saturday.