The last decade has seen a surge in demand for Lowry artworks, conceivably influenced by the 2013 Tate exhibition ‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’, as well as growth and momentum within the market. While he is famous for his typical British Industrial landscapes featuring ‘matchstick men’, he also painted seascapes and was a talented portraitist. His name has become synonymous with British Art and the prices being achieved at auction in recent years are testament to his legacy.
Born in Stretford, in 1887, Laurence Stephen Lowry moved to the urban town of Pendlebury in 1909 with his family. It was here that the daily hustle and bustle of life inspired him to start drawing. He would sketch on whatever piece of paper he could get his hands on including napkins and envelopes, later creating more finished drawings. He also started painting, which he only ever did at home in his “studio” – which was very likely originally the dining room.
By the 1960s and 70s, Lowry was a recognised artist, which is when he started to produce limited edition prints. Some were reproductions of his original paintings while others were produced expressly as print editions.
In 2022, an original Lowry oil painting titled “Going To The Match” achieved a new record when it was sold at auction for £6.6 million, the previous record sale price having been £5.6 million for “Piccadilly Circus, London”. In that same year, a signed limited-edition print of this original painting sold for £31,000. With such impressive sale prices being achieved at auction, determining if you own an original Lowry is certainly a worthwhile exercise.
LS Lowry's 'Going to the Match'
Sold for £6.6 million
There are several factors to consider, firstly, the provenance – can the painting or print be traced back to Lowry through the previous owners. He often sold his paintings directly to collectors, therefore a solid provenance supporting such information could immediately authenticate a painting. Verifying the signature against recorded original examples; Lowry produced signed original prints, which can be relatively valuable, close inspection of the second, usually pencil signature for “overwriting” is important. His prints often feature an edition number marked in pencil ranging from 75 to 850 as well as a ‘blind stamp’, which is an image or design created by a depression in the paper. On signed editions this stamp is typically located on the left of the image, whilst for unsigned editions it will be in the centre of the image. The colour pallet used is also worth considering. In his lifetime, Lowry only ever used Winsor & Newton Winton oils in five colours when he was painting: ivory black, vermilion, Prussian blue, yellow ochre and flake white. He liked the relatively stiff consistency of the paints since he painted straight from the tube.
Finally, from chimney stacks to mills, factories and matchstick men, the style, subject, attention to detail and clarity of a picture will also provide clues towards authentication. To obtain a definitive opinion on a Lowry, we highly recommend contacting one of our experts, who will be able to provide advice and a complimentary valuation.
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