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Lowry's 'People in a Park' Sells for £165,000

8th March 2021.

An oil painting by the North’s most iconic artist, L.S. Lowry, has sold for £165,000 plus buyer’s premium in Tennants Auctioneers’ Modern and Contemporary Art Sale on 6th March. ‘People in a Park’ is a typical example of the figure pictures Lowry painted during the latter part of his career and smashed the presale estimate of £60,000-90,000. The painting, which had never been seen on the open market, is signed and dated 1971 and came with provenance from John Fletcher of Oldham, who gifted the painting to his housekeeper.

This small painting encapsulates Lowry’s ability to capture the essence of everyday life in the industrial North. Industrial buildings and church spires loom large over the margins of the park, providing a backdrop to the vast open tract of land, dotted with figures receding into the distance. But it is the vibrant and dynamic group of figures in the foreground that provide the focus of the composition; men and women, teens, children and dogs mingle and move in front of us, demonstrating Lowry’s inimitable skill in capturing a snapshot of life in the bustling industrial North. Lowry’s distinctive but limited colour palette used on a flake white ground is in evidence, too. The artist once said of his work ‘I am a simple man and I use simple materials; ivory black, vermillion, Prussian blue and yellow ochre’.  A further painting by Lowry ‘Yachts at Lytham St Annes’ is on offer in Tennants’ British, European and Sporting Art Sale on 20th March with an estimate of £250,000-350,000.

The sale also saw notable results for a limited edition screenprint from 2007 by Banksy. ‘Trolleys’ depicts early man hunting supermarket trolleys with spears on a grassy plain, a scathing comment on modern man’s inability to provide for himself and sold for £40,000. Beryl Cook’s ‘Virgo’, which features a nude self portrait of the artist riding a zebra, sold for £18,000. Cook is well known for her original, instantly recognisable and often comical paintings.

Particularly strong prices were also seen for Simeon Stafford’s ‘St Ives, Cornwall (sold for £3,200) and Gill Watkiss’s ‘Godrevy Lighthouse’ (sold for £2,000) and a continued high level of interest was seen for L.S. Lowry signed and limited edition prints with notable hammer prices including an example of “Fever Van” which sold for £4,800 against an estimate of £2,000-3,000.

Also of interest were Marcel Dyf’s ‘"Falaises de Douvres", or The White Cliffs of Dover’ (sold for £3,500), Donald McIntyre’s ‘Morning, Isle of Whithorn’ (sold for £4,200), Dame Laura Knight’s ‘In the Wings’ (sold for £3,000), and Geoffrey Woolsey Birks ‘Figures before an industrial town’ (sold for £3,000).

The sale achieved a total hammer price of £350,620 for 112 lots, with an impressive 92% sold rate.

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