Rochdale Observer 31 January
ARTIST SCOURS COUNTRY AND
ADDS LOWRY TO HIS LOT
Art lovers who want to add to their collections and those who have an unrequited yearning to hang a quality painting in their home should make a diary date for Rochdale Town Hall on 27 February.
Drawings by L S Lowry and works by other members of the Royal Academy will be on view at an art auction and sale organised by Rochdale East Rotary Club.
Lowry’s brown and black felt tip drawing, The Promenade, and one or two other selected works will be auctioned. Most of the 80 items will be on sale at half or two-thirds the normal price. The Rotary Club is hoping to raise about £1,500 for the newly formed Rochdale branch of the National Deaf Children’s Society.
Mr Leo Solomons, club president and principal of the Rochdale College of Art, has used his influence with his friends in the art world to collect the paintings, engravings and lithographs which he estimates are worth several thousands of pounds. They include works by Professor Carel Weights and Norman Adams, both of the Royal academy, John Nicholson of the Royal Institute, Norman Janes, the printmaker and Barbara Gregg, the wood engraver. Alongside their works will be the paintings of here of Rochdale’s most promising young artists - Mark Wydler, Susan Gaffney and Ann A
Whoever buys the Lowry drawing in the auction will be asked to part with it, albeit temporarily. It is regarded of such importance that Professor Weights would like to display it in the Lowry Exhibition at the Royal Academy in August.
Burnley Evening Star 31 January
Specialist art thieves were blamed today for a break-in at a design consultant’s firm in Burnley.
Lowry originals were among the paintings stolen in a night raid on Harrison Galleries Limited, Manchester Road. Police suggest the value of glassware and paintings stolen to be “several hundreds of pounds” but the firm’s owner fears the final cost will far exceed that estimate. “These people knew what they were doing and took the very precious merchandise”, said Mr G Harrison, managing director of the firm. “They were in the building some time and appear to have operated very skilfully. Many of the items will be hard to dispose of unless they have an outlet already.”
Four original Lowry paintings were taken and also all the firm’s stock of limited editions by the same artist. Their whole stock of lead cut crystal glass was also taken.
Burnley Evening Star 5 February
Burnley had its own “sale of the century” when thousands of pounds worth of antiques and fine art works were auctioned at knock-down prices at the Keirby Hotel, last night.
A Marcel Larou landscape with a written valuation of £400 went for just £72 and a silver plated candelabra retailing at £75 was sold for £25. These were just two examples from the high speed auction where more than 300 paintings, items of jewellery, porcelain and silverware came under the hammer at a fraction of their value. Another oil painting valued at £450 was sole for £65 and auctioneer Mr Michael Lev immediately offered the buyer a further £40 to sell it back to him. Mr Lev of Woodford Green, Essex tours the country auctioning goods for people who want money in a hurry.
Scores of finely framed oil works went for the price of prints and the result was that more than 150 people left the auction well satisfied with their bargains. Large Lowry prints were in big demand but even these sold for as little as £10.
Daily Telegraph 5 February
R A TO STAGE MAJOR LOWRY EXHIBITION
By John Williams
A major exhibition of the works of L S Lowry is being planned by the Royal Academy in September in recognition of the artist’s achievement in more than 70 years of painting.
Between 200 and 300 of the Lancashire artist’s oils, watercolours and pastels from private and public collections are being gathered for the exhibition. Other famous painters to be honoured with major exhibitions of their works at the Royal academy have included Russell Flint and Munnings.
This, however, will be the first time that Lowry, a member of the Academy since 1962, has had a full-scale exhibition of his work there. In 1965 he was honoured by the Tate when they staged a retrospective exhibition. Prof. Carel Weight, another distinguished academician and an old friend of the artist, is selecting the pictures for the exhibition. The exhibition in the main gallery has been provisionally titled Homage to L S Lowry and will include examples of work from his earliest days.
“We have never had a large exhibition of his work before and we felt it was time we made up for that2, a Royal Academy spokesman said yesterday.
L S Lowry, who lives in Motttram-in-Longdendale, near Glossop said “Naturally I am very pleased that the Academy should want to show my works like this. Certainly I shall visit the exhibition if I can but the fact is that I am 88 and I have seen all the pictures before2.
LOWRY WORKS WORTH £30,000 STOLEN
by Peter Hetherington
Paintings and sketches by L S Lowry, the Lancashire artist who died in February, were stolen in a weekend raid at an art gallery in Southport, it was disclosed yesterday.
Raiders climbed to the roof of the Atkinson Art Gallery, broke a skylight, cut the pictures from their frames and escaped through a fire door. The value of their haul is estimated at £30,000.
Miss Margo Ingam-Drake, a friend of Lowry, who had lent the paintings to the gallery said last night she believed they had been stolen for a private collection. “They are so well known that I can’t imagine anyone being able to sell them or display them” she said at her home in Southport. “They may to into a collection of a so-called art lover who will simply sit and gloat over them”.
The Lowry’s - three paintings and five sketches - were among a haul of 25 pictures and some Russian silver coins. Many of them have been widely printed. They included the famous Lancashire Street Scene, Going for a Walk and a third of a Manchester gallery run by Miss Ingam-Drake, called “Midday Studios, Manchester”. Another Lowry, the gallery’s Industrial Scene showing a mill at Pendlebury, near Salford was also stolen.
Miss Ingam-Drake said she offered her pictures to the gallery from April to September on the understanding that they would be insured. “I wanted as many people as possible to appreciate then, rather than have them locked up in a vault. I had them for some security in old age”.
Detective Superintendent Tom Davies, head of the Merseyside serious crimes squad said “The raid was obviously a professional job. The thieves left some paintings which would have been more valuable and were obviously looking for the Lowrys”.
Daily Mail 19 February
THE INTRIGUING QUESTION-MARK
OVER LOWRY’S £1M COLLECTION
With Britain’s foremost naif artist L S Lowry lying seriously ill in hospital, a question mark hovers over the future of his personal art collection, conservatively valued in excess of £1 million.
A life-long bachelor and recluse, Lowry has lived in a bleak stone house in Mottram-in-Longdendale, Lancashire for 35 years sparingly selling his work which fetches up to £25,000 a canvas.
When I last spoke to Lowry - best known for his industrial scenes and scurrying ‘stick’ people - about the works he has kept in his possession, he told me ‘I have someone in mind to leave them to but I am not sure if the person would do right by them. I want them to remain as a collection - and not be sold.’ A possible alternative is a permanent gallery in the middle of Lowry-land and he discussed this with London art collection Andras Kalman only last month. ‘We met for lunch and he said that his dream was that there should be a Lowry gallery somewhere in Manchester.’ Mr Kalman told me. ‘He was in great spirits, chuckling all the time and as usual, making fun of himself.’
Lowry - the initials stand for Laurence Stephen - has not painted seriously for three years. Just before his illness the Royal Academy offered him a large exhibition in the autumn, ten years after his retrospective at the Tate. A key figure in the future of Lowry’s own works is Alick Leggat, 67, the treasurer of Lancashire Country Cricket Club and a friend of 25 years standing. ‘I don’t own a Lowry myself, and I don’t know what the plans are,’ he said yesterday. ‘I’ve just been to see him - he’s not at all well. He’s had a stroke and there is also bronchitis.’
L S LOWRY, 88, SERIOUSLY
ILL AFTER STROKE
L S Lowry, 88, the artist, was “in a precarious state” in hospital yesterday, suffering from a stroke and bronchial pneumonia.
Mr Lowry, a bachelor, was found by a friend collapsed on the floor of the stone Victorian villa in which he lives alone near the Pennines at Mottram-in-Longendale, Cheshire. Dr Richard Clark, the general practitioner called to the house, said Mr Lowry was too ill on Monday night to recognise people. But after seeing him last night at the 36-bed Woods Hospital, Glossop, Dr Clark said “His condition has improved on last night. He talked to me and was quite rational.”
LOWRY’S LAST WISH
Secret arrangements were made yesterday for burying L S Lowry. It was the Lancashire artist’s last wish that he should have a private funeral with few mourners and no flowers.
The executors of his estate - the National Westminster Bank and Manchester solicitor Mr Alfred Hulme - fear that if details were given out, big crowds will turn up.
It is believed, however, that Lowry, who died on Monday, aged 88. Will be buried at Southern Cemetery, Manchester. A bank spokesmen added “Later in the year a memorial service will be held for him. Admirers of his work can go to that.”
Daily Express 24 February
LOWRY LEAVES A MYSTERY
By Harry Pugh
L S Lowry, the artist whose brush created the “stick people”, died yesterday leaving a hoard of paintings and sketches - and a great mystery.
No one could say for certain what will happen to the countless works, some his own, others by painters he admired, which fill the old stone house where he lived in Mottram-in-Longdendale, Cheshire. It is believed they could be worth £1 million.
Officials at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester - the city where Lowry was born - say he recently promised the collection to them. But the 88 year old semi-recluse, who died in hospital at Glossop, Derbyshire, following a stroke and bronchial pneumonia, would never talk about his decision and last night, as police watched the house, his trustees, the National Westminster Bank, remained just as silent.
His only known relatives -discovered two years ago- are Mrs Martha Lowry, a very “distant cousin” and her 32-year old daughter, Carol.
At her one-bed roomed flat in College Bank, Rochdale, Mrs Lowry said “I don’t know what will happen to his collection. To me he was just a lonely old man who came to tea. But he was delighted to find he had living relatives.”
The artist gave her several of his works which now hand on the walls of her flat. Some of Lowry’s works - with the distinctive touch of “matchstick” crowds in the setting his beloved Lancashire - have been valued as highly as £30,000. His art brought him fame and some fortune. But all he would say about it was a mumbled ‘I’ve made a lot for the income tax man.’
Among tributes to the artist last night was one from his friend Lord Feather. ‘He was one of the outstanding painters of this century.’
Daily Express 24 February
LOWRY - LONELY MAN WHO
CROWDED A GENERATION INTO THE STREETS
OF INDUSTRIAL LANCASHIRE
By Geoffrey Mather
The population of the earth is three-and-a-half thousand million. The chances of any one person making such an impact that his work becomes a fingerprint recognisable throughout the world is, therefore, vanishingly small. We are honouring today such a man, whose work is instantly recognisable whether viewed in London or Tokyo - Eulogy to Lawrence Stephen Lowry, painter on his being awarded an honorary Doctorate of Literature
L S Lowry is dead, at 88, after pneumonia and a stroke. Thus he passes into history like the scenes he portrayed.
If he was a genius, it appeared to have brought him little joy and less comfort.
He was a tall, pear-shaped man, living alone, withdrawn, without ostentation, and for years he had tended to complain about his lack of privacy.
He had many callers. When he tired of their company he yawned. A Lowry yawn could be prodigious and it was an unmistakable signal: it meant he was ready to return to his solitude. Just before his birthday in November he emerged from his front door in answer to my knock and his feet scuffed in deep whirlpools of autumn leaves that had gathered in his drive. He was in no mood for birthdays. “Talk about it?” he said. “I’m 88, not 68 you know, and people are still coming; people, people…….”
His old house, stone-built and detached is at Mottram-in-Longdendale, near Stalybridge, Cheshire. To the motorist, the place is just an unmemorable blur between Manchester and Barnsley.
Lowry lived modestly, even frugally, in spite of his success. There is no garden at the front to speak of and the lower windows are shielded by a straggling privet.
He was wearing a clerical grey suit and there was ash down the front of it. It looked like the suit he wore the year before when he was equally impatient of birthdays - “It’s a day, just another day. I’m tired.” He was shown an advertisement for one of his prints: “250 beautiful prints of On the Sands from a guaranteed limited issue of 500. Each print signed by the artist. Signed Lowrys make for a sound investment and have shown sustained profit growth over the years …..” Is that what it was all about, he was asked - investment. “All art has become an investment,” he said.
A droll man, wearing his sadness like a cloak, he could be kind, charming or distant according to the mood. He could give a painting worth £30,000 to an art gallery then complain about the government taking his money in taxes. He was harder than he appeared to be at first sight - much more shrewd. He had to be in the early years.
Lowry was middle-aged before have achieved any real success. Which is why he complained: “People should have come before; that’s when they should have come. They never came to see me then ……”
He was an only child, born in Manchester in 1887. His father was an estate agent and his mother a talented musician. They were comfortably off. Lowry’s teacher at Manchester Regional College of art painted the industrial scene and showed him reproductions of the work of the Impressionists. The two influences were to shape Lowry’s work. He became fascinated by mills and by the people who worked in them. “I could not understand why I had never seen them painted seriously. So I thought: “I’ll try and put matters right. I did it, but suffered on the way.” He was selling a painting a year, on average, for around £30.
He was always po-faced, but behind the non-committal look was a quirkish mind. He would say to young artists: “Give it up before it is too late.” To others he would say: “I am incorrigible lazy - perhaps that is why I have been so industrious all my life.” Or: “Look at that graveyard - nobody there is complaining.” Or: “A married man lives like a dog and dies like a king; a bachelor lives like a king and dies like a dog.” He finished with painting more often than some of his contemporaries started. The files are littered with “last” interviews. He remembered 1918 to 1930 as his best period because he was “fresh to it.” When a buyer once said: “Mr Lowry, you haven’t put a date on this one” he replied, without a smile. “Oh, haven’t I? What would you like? - 1929 was a very good year.”
Once he said: “I suppose if I had my time again I would be a painter, but I don’t think much of it as a life. You get sick of painting pictures. it’s a job like anything else.”
LOWRY HOME ‘A GOLD MINE’
By Michael Morris
Patiently, carefully, Lowry’s own Lowrys and his Rossettis, his Epstein bust and his Rowlandson cartoon, were listed by the valuers and stowed in two vans by a security firm for safe keeping in the vaults of a branch of the National Westminster Bank.
Outside his stone-built house at Mottram-in-Longdendale, the day after his death, at the age of 88, a group of neighbours, some using “Instamatic” cameras, watched the comings and goings and took photographs. Overnight the police had kept a close watch on the house, which is set apart from its neighbours, like Lowry was himself. Uniformed officers stood by as the men from Securicor packed the vans.
There are even more of the artist’s own collection than was first thought. A preoccupied young women from the valuers was too busy writing the items down in a notebook to add them up. But an official of the bank, which is a co-executor of Mr Lowry’s estate, reckoned that there were many hundreds. They include some framed Lowry paintings, along with a large number of his sketches on paper and in colour on hardboard and paintings by artists he tried to encourage. According to the London dealer Andras Kalman, there could have been anything up to £500,000 worth of pictures scattered.
It took several hours to complete the inventory of the paintings and drawings before even a start could be made on Lowry’s other possessions among then his grandfather clocks, his old radio, clothes and an electric fire with artificial logs. The value of the works, including half a dozen large portraits by Lowry’s favourite pre-Raphaelite painter, Rossetti, will be known only when they have been examined by the experts from London.
In one portfolio there were more than 40 drawings, including a back view of a woman in a shawl, studies of monoliths, bare landscapes, crowd scenes, and a shark half-way through swallowing a swimmer. This confirms Professor Reginald Dodwell’s view that the private collection has major archival interest for students of the future. Professor Dodwell’s gallery, the Whitworth, in Manchester, and Salford city art gallery are laying rival claims to being the site of the proposed Lowry museum, and the professor says that the artist himself told him he wanted it to be at the Whitworth. Mr Alfred Hulme, whose firm of solicitors is one of Lowry’s executors, found many uncounted pictures lying on tables, in cartons or stacked just anywhere when he arrived yesterday.
In Mr Lowry’s bedroom , the removal team found half a dozen large female heads by Rossetti, some dated 1866 and 1868. “At least we think they are Rossettis” said the man from the bank. The bank official who supervised the operation with Mr Hulme said that they had had to move fast and had called in a firm of valuers to record everything in the house. At that stage the items were simply being listed and no attempt was being made to value them specifically. “Our main concern is to get then out of the house before it is burgled,” he said. “It is a gold mine: a sitting duck. We are placing the items where they can’t be stolen.” There was a large proportion of Lowry’s own works in the collection, but he could not say whether it predominated.
Daily Express 25 February
UNVEILING A FIVE HOUR FORTUNE
LOWERY ART COLLECTION COULD BE WORTH £1M
By Derek Hornby
The private art collection of L S Lowry was safely locked away in bank vaults last night after a delicate five hour operation to remove them from his home.
The size of the collection - over 140 paintings and drawings worth between £500,000 and £1 million - came as a surprise to the executors of the Lowry estate. It surprised the artist’s 86 year old housekeeper too. “I don’t remember seeing a lot of pictures” said Mrs Betty Swindells last night. “But then I didn’t pry or ask questions. I wasn’t interested in his affairs. Added Mrs Swindells, who looked after Lowry for 22 years: “We cleared out his studio some time ago. He said he was tired of art.”
It could now be several months before the future of the paintings is finally decided for although the 88 year old artist left a will, this was made several years ago and his solicitors are not sure if there are others.
Yesterday’s removal operation from The Elms in Stalybridge Road, Mottram-in-Longdendale near Manchester, went ahead after police had kept an overnight watch on the house.
The paintings included some of Lowry’s own works - among then his portrait of his parents - and a collection of Pre-Raphaelites worth more than £30,000 each. His collection of antique clocks was also loaded into the security vans, together with a Epstein bust that had stood on Lowry’s sideboard. As each painting was carefully carried out, it was catalogued by experts and wrapped in polythene. For security reasons the police, the artist’s solicitors and the National Westminster Bank had refused to give any advance information of their plan. Later a bank spokesman explained: “We could not allow a collection of such value to remain in an empty house. We were surprised at the number of paintings. We did not expect to find so many.”
So where had he kept all the pictures? The clue to that was given last night by a friend of Lowry, London art dealer Andras Kalman who said they were “stacked incommunicado” in a room in the artist’s home”. Lowry had been secretaries about the collection, he said, because so many people “went cadging.”
One complication about the future of the collection is Lowry’s “promise” to leave it to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. For a rival claim is likely from neighbouring Salford City Art Gallery, which already has the biggest single collection of Lowry paintings in its 150-canvas exhibition.
Yet another mystery is whether Lowry’s only two known relatives will benefit. They are a distant cousin, Mrs Martha Lowry, of Rochdale, and her daughter, Carol, 32 who lives in the Isle of Man.
The artist’s funeral is expected to be at the Southern Cemetery, Manchester but it is unlikely to be the quiet affair - “with no fuss or bother” - that he wanted. Said a spokesman at Woods Hospital near Glossop, where he died on Monday. “It is in the hands of the executors but they have told us nothing so far.”
The funeral of L S Lowry will be strictly private. “It was Mr Lowry’s wish that his funeral was to be as simple and private as possible, with no flowers.” a spokesman for his executors said yesterday. The hundreds of paintings taken from his home on Tuesday are being held in bank vaults awaiting valuation.
ODD MAN OUT
Think of a Lowry. Sky overcast, pipe-cleaner figures scurrying to and fro, leaving work, off to the match, crowding to the scene of an accident. Trippers, mill-workers, layabouts, passers-by: all strangers.
Lowry’s view was detached. He kept himself at a distance, noting behaviour patterns and, at the same time, noticing individual peculiarities. When he singled people out it was to remark upon their limps, squints and nervous habits. Individuals, he implied, are all freaks.
The more honorary doctorates he was given, the more celebrated he became; the more interviewed, and legendary, the further he withdrew. He was cordial but reserved, given to sudden chirrups of enthusiasm, canny about his art, reluctant to discuss it except in chatty terms. This encouraged people to imagine him to be a benign old simpleton. But when you really look at his work it becomes obvious that he was not simply a regional phenomenon with the knack of striking a common chord. The pallid daylight that pervaded his industrial Lancashire spread to Sunderland, Berwick, Scotland, Cornwall and Wales. Everywhere Lowry went the same mists closed in, distancing and isolating and menacing. Loneliness, he used to say, was the reason he became and remained a painter.
But there was also a profound caution. He spent 15 years as an art student in Manchester and Salford and still felt untrained. For a long time he stuck to being rather a pale imitator of Ginner and Bevan of the Camden Town Group. He didn’t have a one-man show until 1939, when he was 52 and permanently set in his ways.
Once developed, the now-familiar Lowry idiom served as a means of surveying the whole world around him. By the 1950s he was producing his most elaborate panoramas of the human ant heap: the style implied comment.
Later he became more economical with his effects - he was always thrifty. So much so that eventually he felt able to discard people altogether sometimes and show nothing but off-white sea and sky. So, far from being a realist, a documentary painter, Lowry was an intense romantic, an odd man out, increasingly reliant on hindsight. He was attracted to leftover places, all of them conducive to melancholy. He observed cripples. The paintings are not wilfully naïve, as if often suggested. They are calculatedly bleak.
Lowry’s popularity stemmed from his success in representing what everybody sees as the true North: dour but homely, once you get past the front door. The pictures reproduced well. But his lasting reputation, his claim to greatness, is likely to rest on his formal skills: his fluent pencil drawings with their telling smudges, the extraordinarily brusque yet delicate way he handled paint. The reserve was a front. Lowry was unique for his imagery, his attitudes, for what he meant to so many.
The Daily Telegraph 28 February
ONLY FOUR WREATHS FOR LOWRY
ON A DULL GREY DAY
By John Dunsford
On the dull, “grey sort of day” he had wished for his funeral, L S Lowry, the artist who dies on Monday, aged 88, was buried yesterday in his parents’ grave beneath a chestnut tree in Southern Cemetery, Manchester.
He had also wanted as few people as possible present but about 50 of his close friends and admirers crowded the tine Church of England church in the grounds representing his associations ranging from the Royal Academy, of which he was a member, to people he had befriended and whose homes he visited. One of the bachelor artist’s life-long friends, the Rev. Geoffrey Bennett, 74, who had known him for 50 years after a meeting at the Manchester Academy of Art, officiated at the short service. He said Mr Lowry had wanted the simplest funeral - there were only four wreaths, including one from Tommy Steele, the entertainer, who admired the artist’s work and paid him visits, and another from students from Newcastle University. Details of the time and place of the funeral had been kept secret to all but a few.
Mr Bennett, whose last parish was St Mary’s and St Paul’s, Carlisle said Mr Lowry’s closest friends were those who discovered the uniqueness and potential in his work in his early days and these he always held in special regard. “It has been said he had been a recluse. But I don’t agree because that term means exclusion from one’s fellow men. He lived alone by circumstances rather than choice but he did have his friends both at home and outside and he really enjoyed their company. Rather than inarticulate as has been said, he was a great talker and had a sound philosophy of life and could weigh up people; he was shy and vulnerable but he was not deceived. We thank God for his life’s work. His friends are all the better for having known him and the world better for having had its eyes opened by his penetrating insight into what lies around us.”
On the coffin lay a simple laurel wreath from the Royal Academy and another wreath of daffodils and spring flowers. Among the mourners was Mrs Martha Lowry, not directly related, but whom Mr Lowry is believed to have contacted once when inquiring after possible relatives. He later became a frequent visitor to her council home in Rochdale. With Mrs Lowry was her daughter, Mrs Carole Spiers who, as a girl, he encouraged to paint and who knew him as “uncle”. Turning in tears from the graveside, Mrs Lowry said: “He was a wonderful man. It just isn’t true to say he was a recluse. He had many friends and will be very sadly missed.”
The Royal Academy was represented by Mr James Fitton, R.A. who had known Mr Lowry since 1914 and among figures from the art world was Mr Andras Kalman, the London gallery owner.
Perhaps typifying the sort of encouragement Mr Lowry gave artists in their unknown years, was a local artist, Mrs Liz Taylor, 32, of Timperley, Manchester who met him at one of her first exhibitions in a Manchester store. They exchanged paintings to start “a very wonderful friendship.”
Daily Express 28 February
ON HIS FUNERAL DAY, LOWRY’S HIDDEN
WORLD IS REVEALED AND HERE IS THE
SURPRISING RESULT - DUET FOR TWO HANDS
By Geoffrey Mather
Here is the picture that would confuse the best experts in the land. It is a genuine Lowry-Riley - a combination of the talents of two of the North’s best known painters.
Yesterday, as L S Lowry was buried, Harold Riley talked about the “game” they used to play. “Lowry would come to my studio in Salford and we would put a canvas down,” he said. “We would paint bits in turn until it was completed.” Riley signed the picture on the left, Lowry on the right. How much is it now worth? No one could guess. It is privately owned. “I could paint you Lowrys” said Harold Riley. “He has influenced my work where I wanted to make figure groups with light and dark contrast. It is really the technique of scraping paint off. There was no short cut. It took months - painting, drying, glazing, scraping, painting again. This is why any Lowry forgeries would be drawings. A forged painting would be the easiest thing in the world to detect.”
Years ago they reached agreement: between then they would portray the life of Salford and the area around it over a span of 100 years. Yesterday the first part of the agreement was concluded when 88 year old Lowry was buried in his family tomb at Southern Cemetery, Manchester. For Riley, at 40, the challenge continues - to cover the rest of the century they planned together.
LOWRYS GO FOR £34,155
By Donald Wintersgill
Nine works by L S Lowry, the first to come up at auction since his death, made a total of £34,155 at Sotherby’s yesterday.
“Sun Fair at Daisy Nook” done in 1957 and showing a crowd of his stick-like figures, fetched £14,300. The others, of lesser quality fetched between £605 and £5,720. Some of the prices were well above expectations, as can happen soon after a painter’s death.
Yorkshire Post 6 May
LOWRY’S HEAD SCULPTED JUST BEFORE DEATH
A head of the late L S Lowry sculpted by Sam Tomkiss the Todmorden sculptor has been bought by the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Mr Tomkiss learned of the purchase when his agent offered the gallery a head of the Northern artist but got the reply: “We already have one, and. Happily for Mr Tomkiss, it is one of his.” “Apparently they bought it in an auction and I do not know how much they paid. I was rather surprised to hear that my work was on view at the gallery,” said Mr Tomkiss yesterday.
He began sculpting as a hobby when he was 50 and now at 67 is kept busy with commissions arranged by George Aird, a Manchester art dealer. A few months before Lowry died Mr Aird persuaded him to sit for Mr Tomkiss and had the resulting head cast in bronze to produce a limited edition of 36. “I think I am the only one Mr Lowry every sat for. I believe he once started sitting for someone else, but never returned for the next session. He was very good with me however and we became good friends,” said Mr Tomkiss who retired two years ago as editor of the Todmorden News. Mr Tomkiss works in clay and then a plaster cast is made before the final stage of bronze casting.
Daily Mail 11 August
STAR ROLE FOR LOWTY AND ‘BROTHER’ FRED
Artist L S Lowry’s stick-like figures are to brought to life in a stage show and Lowry, who created girls and factory hands with waistlines as slim as mill chimneys, could become the star.
The new production, called Lowry Street, will be premiered in October by the newly formed Shuttle Theatre Company based in Manchester. “We are hoping that it will be a tribute to a great artist and a shy, private man,” said actor Simon Molloy.
The company has been studying Lowry’s paintings, talking to his friends and reading newspaper cuttings on his life to produce the play and it plans to introduce the artist on stage via his fictional brother, Fred. “Lowry was notoriously reluctant to answer his door,” said another member, Alan Partington. “He invented this brother, Fred. When somebody came to his door he would say: ‘Mr Lowry is not in, I’m his brother and I’ll tell him you called.’ “We are hoping to use Fred in the show.”
The company was formed earlier this year to create work for northern actors and directors and provide a touring theatre. It includes Alan Rothwell of ITV’s Hickory House, Paul Webster of BBC Radio and two husband and wife teams, Paul and Sally Gibson and Dinah Handley and her husband Alan Partington. “We have an exceptionally strong team,” said Paul Gibson who brought the group together. “There are so many good performers living in the area.”
Shuttle’s first production ‘A Little Stiff Built Chap’ opens at Middle Civic Centre on 23 September.
‘Lowry Street’ a tribute to Lowry who died earlier this year, opens in Buxton with other venues including Romiley and Oldham.
Daily Mail 3 September
TOO LATE THE EXHIBITION COMES FOR THE MAN WHO
TURNED WORK INTO ART
By Richard Lay
When L S Lowry was asked by the Royal Academy if he would agree to a big exhibition he shook his head, screwed up his nose and said, ‘Oh such a lot of trouble. I’m far too old to cope.’ He changed his mind, as all his friends knew he would, and in the last days before he died - in February this year, at the age of 88 - he had become very excited at the idea.
Tomorrow the genius of Lowry, court painter to the working classes, whose match-stick figures against industrial scenes of the North became folklore long before his death, will be on display at Burlington House. The exhibition will last until 14 November. He loved brass bands and, fittingly, the G.U.S. (Kettering) Brass Band will play in the courtyard as the first of the Lowry disciples file in to feast on 335 paintings and drawings.
He produced about 3,000 works during his life and the Royal Academy have gathered together the cream - about 75% of them coming from private collections. The industrial scenes are there, the familiar figures and chimneys and buildings from which one can almost detect the smell of hot-pot and Woodbine smoke - these are the real masterpieces.
The master’s old friend, Professor Carel Weight, who has been responsible for the selection of works in the show, was in close contact with Lowry until two weeks before his death. “The last time I saw him as he went home in a taxi he said to me, ‘I’m so much looking forward to it all now - see you at Burlington House.’
Although in recent years Lowry stopped painting, he continued to draw on scraps of paper and envelopes and hundreds of pieces of paper were found in his home after his death. He was also well aware that there were people only too anxious to exploit his fame and as Prof. Weight recalls, ‘He knew what was going on. People would ask him to sign modern prints of his work so that they would become valuable. One of his last drawings was of himself surrounded by sharks.’
The RA show illustrates the other side of Lowry, the observer of pure landscapes, and seascapes - a facet of his career many tend to forget. He was a great admirer of the Impressionists and it is significant to remember that his teacher, Adolphe Valette, had in turn been taught by Degas. In the landscapes there are hints of Monet and Courbet and his later work echoes of the German Expressionists - satirical, mocking and, most important, humorous.
He was so pleased when he heard that some of his work was in the Queen’s collection. And if he could have been at his own show he would have been even more delighted - because she heads the loan list.
Manchester Evening News
SIX LOWRY PAINTINGS ARE SOLD FOR £113,000
Six paintings by Salford’s famous “matchstick men” artist, L S Lowry, have been sold for £113,000.
The works, mainly featuring North-East scenes, went under the hammer at Sotherby’s in London. Top seller was a 1962 painting titled South Shields which went to an anonymous private buyer for £33,000. Next came a 1959 wok called The Thames from Whitehall Court which went to a London dealer for £24,200. The estimated value was £18,000 to £15,000. Then came a 1962 picture title Dockside, Sunderland which was sold to a London dealer for £22,000. The estimated value was £20,000 to £30,000. Barges on a Canal painted in 1944 went to an anonymous buyer for £15,400. The estimated value was £8,000 to £12,000. Next was Old Windmill, Bexhill painted in 1960 which was bought by the Bexhill Museum for £9,000. The estimated value was £6,000 to £8,000. Tanker entering the Tyne painted in 1967 went to a London dealer for £8,000. The estimated value was £6,000.
Observer 12 September
LOWRY IN EASY STREET
By William Feaver
I didn’t attempt a head count, but they must run into millions. Strollers, loiterers, bystanders. Busybodies making beelines for somewhere. Besides the myriad hand-painted folk, there are hundreds of pencilled freaks and nobodies. Also hosts of live supporters: L S Lowry fans paying their respects and taking a delight in the old marvel’s handling of the passing show.
The Royal Academy’s Lowry exhibition is a decidedly celebratory occasion. ‘How good to have known Mr Lowry’ the organisers surely chanted to themselves. ‘Who painted such volumes of stuff.’ Just on 340 works have been accommodated, spanning 70 years.
More is not necessarily better. Particularly not with an artist who so established himself as easy to recognise. Think of the number, then envisage it in terms of Lowrys: the recurrent Prussian Blue linework and gashed swamp effects, the viaducts, chimneystacks and other handy punctuation marks. Placed end to end they stretch for miles, it seems, and, where the paintings and drawings tail off, photographs show the artist at work or pottering round his localities. A cheery little shot of him in his raincoat is repeatedly used to usher us from one room to the next. Wherever we look Lowrydom closes in. It’s a blow-out.
The exhibition wends its way sort of chronologically. There are sudden pauses for comparisons between Lowry’s plus ça change treatments of scenes and themes in different decades. This inconsequential flow isn’t just a matter of over-generous choice and pitter-patter hanging. It stems from the works themselves.
Lowry’s prolonged formative years, life-studying away at evening classes, gradually homing on the industrial backdrop, turn out to be the most interesting as far as his development is concerned. By 1920 he was producing not just variations on the drizzly Mancunian Impressionism of his teacher Adolphe Valette, or vague attempts at Muirhead Bone or even Orpen manners, but Lowrys proper. That is, paintings with a trudging, ominous quality. His landmarks then started to appear: the mills blocking vistas flat-on and sooty churches hove-to in pale graveyards. Sights such as Caspar David Friedrich had mooned over.
Having settled into his style, Lowry was apparently content to rub along as the fancy took him, cultivating his patch and specialities. In all those years his preoccupations hardly changed. Maybe loneliness deepened, and the sharp eye for cripples and weirdies. But too much gets read into the spaces between his shadow less people. More often than not the scale and detailing of his pictures seems to have depended on straightforward decisions. Was this view to be populated or uncluttered? Spooky or jolly? A major effort or a quick glimpse?
After his retirement from the full time job of Chief Cashier for the Pall Mall Property Co. Ltd. In 1952 Lowry’s paintings reached peak complexity. Later on, as his stamina decreased, pencil sketches took over as his main means of expression. The panoramas, though, had always been omnibus editions of his drawings. The success of both depended on the clarity of the initial idea, sturdy architectural arrangements, human quirks briskly observed. When he took on what was too obviously a readymade Lowry, terraced Welsh mining valleys, for instance, in the mid-sixties, the outcome was fudged acres.
Some of the epic townscapes stand out as feats of multiplication and deployment, every item balanced up: ‘V E Day,’ where a rash of mainly red bunting speckles the streets, ‘Going to the Match’ and ‘Industrial Landscape,’ the one he did as a semi-official commission for the Festival of Britain. This is the grandest and most comprehensive of his Worktown prospects.
But Lowry at his most characteristic is more a two-reeler Chaplin. His Easy Streets are inhabited not by individuals or people but by bit-players in cameo roles. There are jokes and comic turns galore. Two bulky men in a boat on a heaving pond. A crowd straggling up a hill to read a sign there telling them, presumably, that they have reached the top. Elongated dachshunds.
As with Chaplin, Lowry scenarios are apt to gell into routine or go sweet-and-sour: benign phases followed up with menaces. Arrests are made and accidents happen, parks fill with misshapen solitaries. And when the figures are cleared out of the way, leaving dim moors, seashore or recreation ground, its exactly the point where The Little Man has fidgeted into the distance and The End comes up on the screen. Over and over again it happens in the course of what surely must be the Lowry show to end all big Lowry shows. He is better represented (as at the Lefevre gallery recently) in small concentrations.