Two drawings by the masterful Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887-1976) sold in Tennants Auctioneers’ Modern and Contemporary Art Sale on 4th March in Leyburn, North Yorkshire. The works, which span Lowry’s artistic career, represent two of his overriding interests: the streets of Greater Manchester and the Sea.
“The Stepped Street” (sold for: £70,000 plus buyer’s premium) encapsulates Lowry’s skill as a draughtsman at an early stage of his career. Executed in 1929 during a golden period of creativity for the artist, the drawing depicts Crowther Street in Stockport. The second drawing was “The Sea”, a simple pencil sketch of the unbroken sea and sky of the North East coast, dating to 1965 and executed during one of his frequent holidays at the Seaburn Hotel, Sunderland (sold for: £25,000 plus buyer’s premium). Here he always stayed in the same room, which looked straight out at the empty expanse of the North Sea, sketching, and watching the water and sky melding at the horizon. One of his finest large-scale oil seascapes inspired by the same view, “The North Sea” painted in 1966, was sold at Tennants in October 2022 for £840,000 plus buyer’s premium.
Amongst a selection of works by distinguished Canadian artists, was “Danse Irrégulière” by Paul-Émile Borduas (sold for: £10,000 plus buyer’s premium), having attracted numerous bidders from Canada. Borduas was one of the most important figures in modern Canadian art, and leader of the Automatists group. He developed a spontaneous style of non-figurative painting, a technique first used by Surrealist painters and poets to express the unconscious in art.
Further notable lots included “Preening Bird” by David Wynne (1926-2014), which sold for £7,000 (plus buyer’s premium) against an estimate of £2,000-3,000. Wynne is known for his sculptural figures, animals and portraits, but best celebrated for his public sculptures which can be found throughout the country. Having studied Zoology at Cambridge, the natural world became central to his work and much of his sculpture was a direct, heartfelt response to nature and the animals he studied and sketched.
“SAMO is Alive”, a screenprint hand finished with spray paint by French Street Pop artist Mr Brainwash (b. 1966) sold well at £2,200. “SAMO” was a graffiti tag used in New York between 1978 and 1980, derived from the phrase ‘the same old crap’ and created by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Al Diaz. Basquiat (pictured in the present print) later killed off the tag by graffitiing ‘SAMO is Dead’ around the streets of New York.
The sale realised a total hammer price of £249,440 for 149 lots, with an 89% sold rate.