AN iconic painting of the three Bronte sisters has returned to the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth for the first time in 34 years.

The portrait, by Branwell Bronte, has returned to the family home in time to mark the 200th anniversary of Emily’s birth.

The painting is the only known surviving portrait of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte together and is now on display in the parsonage for the first time since 1984.

Since then a replica has been on display in the museum - the former home of the literary family.

The painting was produced by Branwell, often considered the forgotten Bronte, in 1834 when he was just 17.

It was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1914 and will be displayed at the Parsonage until August 31.

The work is often referred to as the ‘pillar portrait’ because it features a central column added by Branwell to obscure his own image.

It was kept by Charlotte’s husband, Mr Nicholls, after whose death it was discovered folded up on the top of a cupboard in an Irish farmhouse.

Ann Dinsdale, Principle Curator at the Bronte Parsonage Museum, said: “It’s a very special moment for us to welcome back this wonderful portrait.

“Visitors always ask questions about a copy that we have on display year-round at the museum and it feels fitting that the original painting has returned home to the Parsonage where it was painted, as part of our year-long celebrations around Emily’s birth.”

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, added: “I grew up a few miles from Haworth, used to visit the Parsonage Museum often and look at the reproduction of Branwell Bronte’s portrait of his sisters and read that the original was in London, so I am absolutely delighted that the National Portrait Gallery is lending one of the treasures of its collection back to Haworth as part of the anniversary celebrations for Emily Bronte.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to see the portrait on display in the family home where it was painted for the first time since 1984.”

The return of the painting is just one of the events being held locally to celebrate the anniversary of Wuthering Heights author Emily.

Yesterday a new exhibition celebrating her life and inspirations opened at South Square Gallery in Thornton - a short distance from the house the sisters and Branwell were born in.

And this summer as part of the Bradford Literature Festival there will be the unveiling of the Bronte Stones - a series of four public art installations, including one at the Bronte birthplace in Thornton, one at the Parsonage and two in between.

Each piece will include an inscription from a major writer who has been inspired by the sisters.

Kate Bush, whose Emily Bronte inspired song Wuthering Heights made her a superstar, has written the words for the Emily stone, while poet Carol Ann Duffy, poet and novelist Jackie Kay and novelist Jeanette Winterson have contributed to the other stones.