If you are in the market to buy a L S Lowry print, here are a few pieces of advice before you start your search, to make sure you find the right piece at the right price.
Interest in Lowry’s industrial scenes and ‘matchstick men’ is higher than ever, fuelled by the artist’s growing recognition. The major Tate Britain exhibition Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life in 2013 was instrumental in establishing Lowry as a blue-chip artist, which in turn increased his prices on the secondary market. 2019 saw the new biopic film Mrs Lowry & Son, starring award-winning actors Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave, which renewed public awareness of Lowry’s life and art.
Although Lowry had been painting since the late 1910s, the majority of his limited-edition prints date from the 1960s and 1970s, by which time he was a recognised artist. Some of his prints were reproductions of his most popular paintings, while others were created specifically as print editions. Here are some points to consider before you buy.
The appreciation and market for Lowry’s prints show no signs of slowing down. Between 1999–2019, the average price for a Lowry print jumped from £500 to £4,000. A notable example of this price increase is The Football Match (1949), currently the most expensive Lowry painting at auction. The painting was sold to its first owner in 1951 for just £250. After four decades in his collection, it was sold at Sotheby’s for £132,000 in 1992. In 2011, The Football Match was auctioned again, this time at Christie’s, where it achieved a record-breaking £5,641,250.
Demand continues to grow and works by Lowry regularly exceed their estimates. An edition of Lowry’s A Street Full Of People realised £21,250, far above its £15,000 high estimate, in Christie’s Prints & Multiples auction in London on 18 March 2020.
A Lowry print can range from £1,000-2,000 to £10,000-15,000 and above. The highest price paid for a Lowry print is currently £25,000, set by Going To The Match on 29 February 2020. The print was estimated at £15,000-20,000 but, given that Going to the Match is one of Lowry’s most popular works, it was perhaps unsurprising that it went for higher. The previous record price for a Lowry print was also held by an edition of Going To The Match, which sold for £22,000 in 2015.
Industrial landscapes, sports and fairgrounds are among Lowry’s most popular subjects on the secondary market. Of these, football pictures are consistently the most sought-after – both the most expensive Lowry painting and print are, after all, about the beautiful game.
Beyond the subject matter, the dating of the print is also an important consideration. Signed prints by Lowry produced in the 1960s and 70s are particularly in demand.
It is also worth noting the print’s provenance. Artworks previously owned by a respected or famous collector will have a higher resell value. Works that have been held by the same owner for many years, and are considered fresh to the market again, are often priced higher.
Make sure any Lowry print you want to buy has clear records of its provenance, tracing all its previous owners since it was first sold. This is essential evidence that the work is real.
Most, but not all, of Lowry’s prints are signed. If there is a signature, it should be handwritten in pencil, in the paper margin underneath the printed image. This pencil signature is a more important sign of authenticity than a signature in the print itself, which is copied from the original painting.
The majority of Lowry’s prints also feature a Fine Art Trade Guild ‘blind stamp’ – a logo that creates a depression into the paper. The Fine Art Trade Guild’s stamp design shows a man and three letters to his right.
Finally, Lowry’s prints often have their edition numbers marked in pencil. These edition numbers can range from 75 to 850. Together, the signature, ‘blind stamp’ and edition number can be the first step in distinguishing a genuine Lowry from a fake.
Lowry famously claimed that he painted in only five colours: flake white, ivory black, Prussian blue, yellow ochre and vermilion red. His prints should reflect these recognisable colours. If a Lowry print has pale, faded colours, it could be a sign of poor-quality ink or that the work has been overexposed to sunlight, and therefore not properly looked after.
Other common signs of damage for prints include tearing; mould stains (such as foxing, a brown mould in a snowflake-like pattern); yellowed paper; water stains; and ripples or warping in the paper caused by changes in humidity.
A Lowry in perfect condition is worth more than a Lowry with wear, so look after your print and it will look after you. To protect your print, get it professionally framed with UV-protected glass. Hang your print away from direct sunlight, in a spot with a stable temperature and humidity. Keep the print’s paperwork safe too – you will need it again if you decide to resell.
Lowry is considered one of the most forged artists on the market so it’s advisable to buy your new Lowry print from a credible source. Galleries and auction houses are reputable options – but their premiums are very high.
At MyArtBroker we offer a safe and simple solution to buyers. Whether you’re a new or experienced collector, our expert brokers can assist you with buying a Lowry print from our large network of collectors. We will also authenticate and check the condition of artworks – so you can have confidence before you buy.
We offer both the sense of trust and comfort that comes with meeting with a specialist personally, as well as the efficiency, transparency and ease of an online process. If you’d like any more advice on how to buy a work by Lowry, just let us know.