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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s to Offer L.S. Lowry Painting

Christie’s London has announced the sale of A Market Place, Berwick-upon Tweed, 1935, by Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976), which will lead the auction of 20th Century British Art on Thursday, 21 May 2009 (estimate: £300,000-500,000). This classic work by the artist is completely fresh to the market, having been acquired directly from Lowry’s agent, the Lefevre Gallery, London, in 1945 for 30gns, by Henry Morris, Chief Education Officer of Cambridgeshire County Council. It is now being offered for sale by The Cambridgeshire Schools’ Art Collection of Cambridgeshire County Council in order to raise necessary funds which will safeguard the cultural program.

Rachel Hidderley, Christie’s International Specialist and Director, 20th Century British Art: “This is a wonderful example of a top quality work by one of the 20th Century’s most popular artists. The painting is a classic street scene by L.S. Lowry, painted during the golden, middle years of his career, and depicts the town of Berwick upon Tweed, just before the Second World War. The picture has a joyful appeal, showing a bright and bustling street with Lowry figures going about their daily business. With its unbroken primary source provenance, and excellent original condition, this is a highly desirable work of art.”

The 1930s and 1940s are recognized as the greatest period in Lowry’s oeuvre, when his vision was strongest. Dating to 1935, this signed oil on panel depicting the Market Place in Berwick-upon-Tweed was executed when the artist was advised by his doctor to go to Berwick for the quality of air; as a respite from looking after his ailing mother. As the colourful, dynamic palette of this work reflects, Lowry loved the market town – so much so that after his mother’s death he actually considered moving there.

Bustling with life, the larger figures in the foreground are characteristic of Lowry’s works from this period. The joyful use of reds and blues dotted throughout the figures, in to the evocative houses and up to the thick impastoed sky add further vibrancy. Not one but three of his famous, mischievous dogs scamper through the scene. This is one of Lowry’s most ‘directional’ works, with the perspective drawing the eye through what is known as Marygate to the statuesque Town Hall; a view which is largely unchanged 74 years on in 2009. As with the best of Lowry’s paintings, this picture presents the viewer with a multiple of shared and private moments. Intriguing vignettes include the figures descending the Town Hall steps, which some of the passers-by appear to be watching with interest. Lowry powerfully controls and portrays a natural human characteristic: curiosity – that of the viewer and his subjects.

This painting has been exhibited at Cambridge, Magdalene Street Gallery, Lowry Loan Exhibition, April – May 1967 and Salford Quays, The Lowry, on loan, 2003 – 2009, where it has been enjoyed by an international audience. It was also used as the illustration on the back cover of Shelley Rohde’s 2007 book L.S. Lowry: A Life.