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L.S. Lowry 'People in a Park' and the Modern & Contemporary Art Sale

3rd February 2021.

An oil painting by the North’s most iconic artist, L.S. Lowry, is coming up for sale 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 is on offer with an estimate of £60,000-90,000 (plus buyer’s premium). The painting, which has never been seen on the open market, is signed and dated 1971 and comes 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’.

On offer in the same sale is a work by Brian ‘Braaq’ Shields, one of the most successful of the artists inspired by Lowry and his ‘matchstick’ men. ‘Fete Day’ was painted in 1975 and is on offer with an estimate of £7,000-10,000. Born in Liverpool, Braaq acquired this nickname (a corruption of Georges Braque - the French Cubist painter) at school because of his artistic talents. Known for his paintings of industrial scenes in Northern Britain, Braaq’s paintings are much influenced by his childhood in Liverpool, and his work is admired for its vivacity and humour.

Offering a contrasting voice of 21st century urban art from the South is 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 (estimate: £40,000-60,000).

Further works of note include Beryl Cook’s ‘Virgo’, estimated at £18,000-25,000, and two paintings by Leeds-born Joash Woodrow, ‘Two Men and a Horse’ and ‘Four Figures in Historical Costume’, both estimated at £4,000-6,000.


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