A portrait of Sam Smith by a Kiwi artist has gone viral on social media after the music superstar shared it with his 3.6 million followers on Instagram.

The watercolour painting by Auckland-based illustrator Henrietta Harris was commissioned by Universal Music as a gift to Smith following his trip to New Zealand.

But before the painting could reach the 22-year-old British singer, he posted a picture of it online where it has received more than 170,000 "likes".

Smith then used it as his profile picture on Instagram and Twitter. Ms Harris said she was blown away when Smith also messaged and thanked her, telling her "you're so talented".

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"He messaged me through Instagram and said he loved it - which was pretty cool."

The 31-year-old said Universal asked her to do the painting as it wanted to do something different from the usual gold record it gives its visiting musicians.

Universal commissioned Kiwi artist Henrietta Harris to paint this watercolour of singer Sam Smith.
Universal commissioned Kiwi artist Henrietta Harris to paint this watercolour of singer Sam Smith.

Ms Harris graduated from AUT in 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and has had art shows in New Zealand, Australia, London and New York. She leaves this week for a gallery show in Miami.

Smith won two Brit Awards and four Grammy Awards in February and was in New Zealand last week for his In the Lonely Hour tour.

He performed two sell-out shows on Wednesday and Thursday at Vector Arena.

His 3.6 million followers on Instagram and 2.6 million on Twitter were treated to a series of photos during his stay in New Zealand, including snaps from a trip to the Hobbiton film set in Matamata and some from Piha Beach.

Alongside a photo of him at Hobbiton, he said: "I would chop off my toe to live here and be a hobbit".

"Travelling is to me one of the most important things in life. It's one of the main reasons why I chose this career path," he wrote next to one of him at Piha.