LS Lowry Works To Be Sold



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Two paintings by the visual poet of the industrial landscape, Laurence Stephen Lowry R.A. (British, 1887-1976), belonging to the environmentally conscious Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), will go under the hammer in Bonhams next sale of 20th Century British Art on 2 July, New Bond Street. LS Lowry’s The Footbridge, (estimated at £120,000-180,000) and The Farm, (estimated at £100,000-150,000), were both bought by the Co-operative Financial Services in the mid 1960s. The paintings have since hung in the company’s Manchester headquarters – an appropriate setting given the amount of inspiration Lowry gained from this city, his birthplace.

A spokesperson for The Co-operative Financial Services explains the organisation’s reasons for selling the two paintings: “We are currently developing a new art policy which is based on our commitment to social responsibility and will reflect our ethical approach to business. As part of this new policy we plan to increase our support in community art projects in Manchester and elsewhere. To finance these new activities we plan to sell our existing collection of mostly mid 20th century British art works. This collection was put together some time ago, and whilst of high quality, does not particularly reflect the CFS’s values”

LS Lowry’s The Footbridge, 1946, (estimated at £120,000-180,000), presents the viewer with an intimate glimpse of the industrialised city. Lowry has painted a scene that is off the beaten track, life on the street is very much in motion, but less frenetic than the scenes on the main streets and squares of the city. The scene is still however, urban to the core. Nature has been entirely suppressed by man in this painting – the telegraph poles, their wires, the pavement, the road, the wall and buildings in the distance, are all part of the urban architecture and evidence of man’s activity and industriousness. At the centre of it all is the footbridge itself – the product of the industrial age. The figures in the foreground draw the viewer’s eye to the foot of the bridge. The figures are anonymous and totally free from identifying features, their isolation reinforced by the physical distance Lowry has painted between them. A chimney, church spires and plume of smoke are all discernable in the background.

In marked contrast and unseen in public for over forty years The Farm, 1955, (estimated at £100,000-150,000), depicts a pastoral scene in Regent Street, Lytham. This was a nearby area that Lowry often explored whilst living in Pendlebury. He first began to draw the locality in pastel around 1912-1920, revisiting the scene some thirty years later to produce the present work. Whilst there are a number of similarities between the early pieces and this one, such as the absence of prominent figures and the presence of subtle colour nuance, Lowry had undoubtedly honed his technique in the intervening years, the results of which are evident. The finished work is imbued with a tenderness and genuine affection for nature. Lowry has painted a rural landscape not to serve as a backdrop for figures but as an end in itself.

Matthew Bradbury, Director of 20th Century British Art at Bonhams says, “It is a pleasure to be handling two such contrasting paintings by one of Britain’s most admired artists; the typical industrial street scene with its familiar footbridge motif, that was used in quite a number of Lowry’s paintings, complements the more tranquil image of an empty countryside landscape depicting a farm. One uses the landscape format of painting and the other the portrait style. That both belong to one of Britain’s most well known brands and, are accompanied with impeccable provenance, should make them even more attractive to collectors.”

For more details visit the Bonhams web site.


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