‘Newton after Blake’, by the Italian sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi, depicts the 17th century scientist at work and is based on a drawing first done by William Blake in 1795.
A much larger version of the sculpture, entitled ‘Master of the Universe’, sits outside the British Library in London.
Now the University of Leeds says it has been donated an edition of the work, which is currently in the hands of conservators in Edinburgh.
The uni intends to stand the sculpture outside the Edward Boyle Library, according to a planning application submitted to Leeds City Council.
The application says: “As a major piece of public art on campus, it is appropriate to place in a prominent location.
“The location near the Edward Boyle Library, the university’s largest library and in the heart of campus, fulfils both this desire to site the sculpture prominently and brings with it a similar association to the university’s library as Master of the Universe has to the British Library.”
The sculpture, which is 1.47m (4ft8), will sit on a plinth if planning permission is approved, while plants will be cultivated around it to “dissuade people from climbing it,” the proposals say.
The city council will either approve or reject the plan in the coming months.
Newton, who in later life became an MP, is best known for his work on the theory of gravity, which he is said to have popularised after watching an apple fall from a tree.