Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)
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Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)

An Old Street

Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)
An Old Street
signed and dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1932' (lower right)
oil on panel
21 x 15 ¼ in. (53.3 x 38.8 cm.)
with Lefevre Gallery, London, where purchased by Lord Forte, October 1977.
His sale; Christie’s, London, 16 November 2011, lot 10, where purchased by the present owner.
Exhibition catalogue, A Memorial Exhibition of Paintings & Drawings by L.S. Lowry R.A., London, Lefevre Gallery, 1976, p. 13, no. 3, illustrated.
London, Lefevre Gallery, A Memorial Exhibition of Paintings & Drawings by L.S. Lowry R.A., May - July 1976, no. 3.
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


'Bruegel did the industrial scene as he knew it in his day and I did it in my day, so it's natural that critics make comparisons between his work and mine. It jumps to the eyes. When he was alive he saw the industrial scene around him and he did it. Now four hundred years later I saw the industrial scene around me and I did it. And with him people said "What are you doing these things for? Nobody wants pictures like this", and funnily enough, they have said the same thing to me'
(L.S. Lowry quoted in S. Rohde, L.S. Lowry A Biography, Salford, 1979, p. 101)

Lowry was drawn to the topography of Stockport by its great brick viaduct which towered over one hundred feet above the River Mersey. Crowther Street in Stockport was a favourite location for the artist, but here Lowry focuses on a view of Mealhouse Brow, the view from Stockport Market Place looking down to Underbank. Lowry's vision of a busy street relates closely to other works from 1930s in which street disputes, accidents or gatherings were the focal points of his compositions. In the present work, the antics of a boy in the street, who appears to be dancing and waving, is attracting the attention of the passers-by in a way that a more serious incident in the street would do. Lowry remarked of such events, 'Accidents interest me - I've a very queer mind, you know. What fascinates me is the people they attract, the patterns these people form, and the atmosphere of tension when something has happened ... when there's a quarrel there's always a crowd ... it's a great draw. A quarrel or a body (quoted in Exhibition catalogue, L.S. Lowry, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1988, p. 53).

This type of subject matter and the opportunity to people his street scenes with a wide cast of characters, appealed to Lowry as Michael Howard comments, 'Something of this hidden energy, of the life force that the working class of Salford and Manchester and elsewhere possessed in great abundance, may be seen in the comedians and the great tradition of music hall, of which the artist was a great admirer. Lowry's paintings, indeed his figure types, are recreations of then-famous music hall types, who were in turn based upon stereotypes of working-class people ... There is in fact much of the slapstick in Lowry, who was an avid fan of the silent films, especially the comedies of Chaplin and Mack Sennett, which presented a two dimensional world of the absurd and the ridiculous. In his reminiscences of his childhood spent in the Salford slums, Robert Roberts remembered well the entertainment value of street brawls and arrests. Lowry's paintings celebrate such happenings - episodes of free theatre - and perfectly catch the attraction they exerted (Lowry, A Visionary Artist, Salford, 2000, pp. 138-140).

This work was previously in the collection of Charles Forte (1908-2007) who assembled the most important collection of works by L.S Lowry in recent times, and largely during Lowry's lifetime. The oil paintings from this collection were sold in these Rooms on 16 November 2011, and realised £17,668,250, with the top lot Piccadilly Circus, equalling the world record for Lowry of £5,641,250. This record had been set earlier in the same year at Christie's by A Football Match.

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