L S Lowry

Active pre- and post-war, L. S. Lowry’s melancholic paintings of industrial North-West England are typically categorised as Naïve art. If you’re looking for original Lowry prints and editions for sale or would like to sell, request a complimentary valuation and browse our network’s most in-demand works.

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Industrial landscapes, his hometown of Lancashire and ‘matchstick men’ characterise the work of L.S Lowry, a key figure in 20th century British painting. Lowry is best known for his distinctive painterly style and a history of depicting England's North West industrial districts. Now a household name and with a significant Mancunian legacy - including the eponymously named Lowry Gallery - his ambition was to 'put the industrial scene on the map because nobody [before] had seriously done it.'

Born in 1887 in Stretford Lancashire, Lowry spent the majority of his childhood in the Manchester suburb of Rusholme and moved to the industrial town of Pendlebury in 1909 aged 22. An untrained artist, Lowry’s initial paintings were filled with figures that cast no shadow and lacked any weather effects. Though these characteristics later became distinctive of his works, they also, at first, drew negative comments from critics, who called him a naive “Sunday painter”.

Industrial Landscapes & Sporting Matches

Lowry’s success did not come overnight. It was only towards the start of the 1930s, after both of his parents had passed, that the artist began to enjoy some recognition. In 1932, Lowry had his work accepted into the Royal Academy, and in 1939 he held his first solo exhibition in London in the Lefevre Gallery.

Today, Lowry is considered one of the most important artists of 20th century England. Some of the most popular works by the artist have involved scenes of industrial landscapes, such as his Going to Work (1943) or Coming from the Mill (1930), both depicting workers busy going to or coming back from industrial factories. While the latter was based on a pastel drawing the artist made in 1917, the former was commissioned to Lowry at the height of World War II by the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC) to celebrate the crucial role that heavy industry was playing throughout the War.

Under the hammer, Lowry’s depictions of sporting matches have also attracted much attention. Now one of his most famous works, Going to the Match (1928) sold for £2,919,000 at Sotheby’s London on 29 June 2021. The painting depicts football fans rushing towards the turnstiles of a football stadium that is already buzzing before kick-off. The background of terraced houses and factory smoke indicates where these fans have just arrived from. Recognised as the “archetypal Lowry”, the work was one of the artist’s earliest depictions of a rugby match and a sporting match in general. In 1972, Lowry also created 300 prints from this image, which remain some of the most sought after Lowry prints on the market.

Going To The Match by LS Lowry - MyArtBroker

Going To The Match © LS Lowry 1953

1. £7.8M for L S Lowry's Going To The Match

In 2022, one of Lowry's most renowned and beloved paintings, Going To The Match (1953), was auctioned at Christie's. Previously on loan to The Lowry in Salford and featured as the lead image in Lowry's 2013 Tate retrospective, this iconic artwork was originally created for a 1953 exhibition sponsored by the Professional Football Association (PFA), earning Lowry his first-ever prize. Displayed publicly at The Lowry in Salford since 2000–courtesy of the former owners, the PFA–the work reappeared at auction after more than two decades and was acquired by the Lowry arts centre in Salford. This acquisition saved it from disappearing into a private collection and was purchased for £7.8 million, setting a new auction record for the artist and selling for four times its initial 1999 sales value.

The Football Match by L S Lowry

The Football Match © L S Lowry 1949

2. £5.6M for L S Lowry's The Football Match

Currently the joint most expensive painting by the artist at auction, The Football Match combines Lowry’s favourite artistic subject and his personal passion – the industrial landscape and football. Lowry was a supporter of Manchester City football club and brought his experiences of home games into this work, which depicts excited crowds at a Saturday afternoon football game.

When The Football Match was offered in Christie’s 20th Century British & Irish Art auction in London on 26 May 2011, the painting had not been seen in public for almost 20 years. It soared above its high estimate of £4.5 million and broke the previous record for a work by Lowry, set by Good Friday, Daisy Nook in 2007.

Piccadily Circus by L S Lowry

Piccadily Circus © L S Lowry 1960

3. £5.6M for L S Lowry's Piccadilly Circus, London

At a joint-first place for the most expensive Lowry painting at auction is Piccadilly Circus, which also achieved £5.6 million when it was offered at Christie’s 20th Century British & Irish Art Evening Sale in London on 16 November 2011 – nearly half a year after the sale of The Football Match. The painting had come to auction for the first time, after being hidden in the same private collection for 35 years. It was offered for auction again at Sotheby’s in London on 25 March 2014, where it sold for a slightly lower £5.1 million.

Lowry rarely painted London scenes and Piccadilly Circus is one of only two works to depict the landmark. The painting was formerly owned by entrepreneur Lord Forte and then A.J. Thompson, an esteemed collector who only bought works by Lowry.

A Northern Race Meeting by L S Lowry

A Northern Race Meeting © L S Lowry 1956