Each of the 12in x 10in paintings is valued at more than £2000 and all concern the subject The Hardman’s Face. Police said one of the unframed paintings was oil-based while the other three were pastels.
Police appealed for information from anyone who may have innocently bought them or who has been asked to frame them.
The paintings were taken from a house in the village of Croftamie, near Drymen in Stirlingshire, between 11am and 4pm on January 19.
Central Scotland Police said the owner of the house, who did not want to be identified, was home at the time of the theft but was not aware of it. A quantity of jewellery, thought to be valued at about £8000, was also taken.
Howson, 50, was born in London but moved to Prestwick, Ayrshire, at the age of four. He spent a short time in the Royal Highland Fusiliers before leaving to study at Glasgow School of Art.
He is known as a member of the New Glasgow Boys movement that rose to prominence in the 1980s.
He was appointed as the official British war artist during the Balkans conflict in the early 1990s.
In 1998, his work appeared on a controversial postage stamp commissioned to celebrate engineering achievements. It was said to infuriate the Queen, whose head seemed to be appearing out of a chimney.
Howson has painted two nude portraits of singer Madonna, and his work has been collected by David Bowie and Bob Geldof.
12:58am Tuesday 27th January 2009
By WILLIAM TINNING