LS Lowry drawings in spring sale

A small family collection of drawings by L.S. Lowry (1887-1976) is coming to auction on March 2 in the Modern and Contemporary Art Sale at Tennants Auctioneers, North Yorkshire.

The three works were given by Lowry to Ruth and Neville Blakey of Pendle, Lancashire, longstanding friends of the artist.  

Mr Blakey first met L.S. Lowry in the late 1950s, when the artist took a clock for repair in the Blakey’s business premises. During his first visit Lowry did not reveal his identity, however, by the time he went to collect the clock Mr Blakey had realised who the great man was and the pair, who had a mutual interest in collecting clocks, struck up a lasting friendship.  

The collection comprises Figures Young and Old, a pencil sketch made in 1969, and estimated at £40,000-£60,000; Group of Children, a further pencil sketch from 1966 and inscribed verso “To Mr and Mrs Neville Blakey”, estimated at £12,000-£18,000; and Street Scene with Dogs, a biro sketch from 1963 executed on a page in Mr Blakey’s autograph book, estimated at £4,000-£6,000.

The autograph book is accompanied by a ledger in which Mr Blakey recounts the pair’s first meetings and notes that “This delightful sketch was drawn in the drawing room He visited us here … and we made return visits on many occasions to his house at Mottram in Longdendale. He was a most kind person…”. Also included with the lots is a small archive of correspondence between Lowry and Blakey, including copies of letters written to Lowry, and signed letters from Lowry, several of which are written on headed paper from Seaburn Hotel, Sunderland, where Lowry spent so many holidays.  

Lowry was a deeply complex figure, now widely recognised as the most important British artist of the 20th century. He was vehement about the importance of drawing and was constantly sketching on whatever scraps of paper he could get his hands on. He considered drawing an art form in its own right and was highly skilled in capturing the essence of his subject and filtering out extraneous detail.

As a young man, Lowry completed a formal artistic training at Manchester College of Art, where he was taught to draw by Adolphe Valette in the classical manner, and his life drawings from this period are technically excellent. During the 1920s he began to develop his own unique style, experimenting with technique and establishing his own visual language. By the 1930s, Lowry had developed his mature, distinctive style, but from the early 1960s, towards the later stages of his life, his drawings became less formal yet more critical towards his subjects. While he still delighted in observing and recording ordinary people going about their everyday lives, he became increasingly interested in depicting interactions and relationships between small groups of people, perhaps trying to get to grips with the close family relationships that he did not have in his life. The three drawings in the present collection are typical of his late career.