The painting, which is little more than the size of an A4 piece of paper, belongs to a small group of single figure studies produced by Lowry on a plain background. L.S. Lowry’s busy industrial townscapes scattered with ‘matchstick’ figures are iconic making this painting especially significant as it is relatively plain in comparison.
Lowry produced over 1000 paintings in his lifetime but of these, only a handful of single figure studies are known. More importantly, he is believed to have produced an even smaller number of rare studies of girls wearing mini skirts. The painting being offered at Duke’s is said to be the best ‘mini skirt’ painting ever produced by Lowry.
The small oil painting, bearing the all important Lowry signature and dated 1968, depicts a full length side profile of a young girl walking against a cold Northern wind with head bowed, wearing a black coat with red hood and hem and baring slender long legs. Duke’s said, “The use of red was atypical for Lowry. Look at most of his landscapes and they are dominated by grim grey and brown tones – hardly any of his female studies use the colour and here, it lends the painting a strong identity especially when contrasted to the murky plain background. The viewer really feels the cold Northern winter wind that must be blowing against the figure’s bare legs. It is a simple image yet one which perfectly captures the moment that Lowry saw the girl.”
The remarkable painting was executed at a time when women were walking the streets of Liverpool and Manchester and embracing the liberated 1960’s fashions – bright colours, mini skirts and highly patterned fabrics would have dominated the High Street. For an artist who grew up constrained by Victorian ideals, the image of the ‘Modern Woman’ would have been a fascinating and possibly erotic one. “When compared to his typical ‘matchstick’ studies of the human form, this painting of a girl in a mini skirt is imbued with a sense of movement and admiration of the female form,” said Duke’s.
The painting, to be sold on 17th September, has been exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool as well as at the Tate Liverpool making the provenance of the work unrivalled. Dukes said, “Genuine oil paintings by L.S. Lowry are hugely popular at auction but to find one which is such an unusual subject for the artist and with such a high calibre provenance is fantastic. We expect the interest at the £120,000 -180,000 estimate to be high.”