An exhibition curated by figurative artist Nahem Shoa for Hartlepool Art Gallery features work by Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach and Robert Lenkiewicz.
Uncompromising Study also includes the work of the so-called New British Realists - Desmond Haughton, Geoff Crannage, Gbenga Ilumoka, Caroline Poole, Christopher Potter and Myrna Shoa.
These six artists come from the same tradition as Nahem Shoa and Auerbach before him.
Freud's painting Head of a Woman, which was recently shown at the prestigious Venice Biennale exhibition, and Auerbach's painting Building Site, Oxford Street and its accompanying study drawing - which has not been shown for 30 years - are among the pieces on display in the Hartlepool exhibition.
Also featured will be the Lenkiewicz masterpiece, The Painter with Mary, and Shoa's acclaimed Giant Head of Ben.
All the New British Realists share the same commitment to working directly from life and it is not unusual for them to spend years on one work.
Shoa has links to Hartlepool through friends with whom he studied and has tutored art students at Hartlepool Art Club. Like Freud, he had his first major solo show at the town's gallery. Shoa brings to life multi-cultural Britain' and its youth culture with technically brilliant painting, and is also known for his giant portraits of heads in close up. He writes: "This is a unique opportunity to allow the art world and the public to see the work of giants of figurative painting together."
All the New British Realists share the same commitment to working directly from life. They see the perceived world as a sensory visual feast, with unlimited creative potential.
"The aim of this exhibition is to show is to show that there is still a modern living European tradition of realist painting going on that is utterly relevant in the twenty first century."
Uncompromising Study, a free exhibition, runs until August 6 at Hartlepool Art Gallery, which is open Tuesdays to Saturdays. Tel (01429) 869706