15th Oct, 2022 9:30 GMT/BST

Modern & Contemporary Art

  Lot 122


Laurence Stephen Lowry RBA, RA (1887-1976)
"The North Sea"
Signed and dated 1966, inscribed, signed and dated 1965/6 verso on the canvas overlap, oil on canvas, 55.8cm by 86.36cm

Provenance: With Lefevre Gallery London, stock no. X8461

Property of a Lady, North West UK

Exhibited: London, Lefevre Gallery, "Paintings by L.S.Lowry RA," 11th May - 3rd June 1967, Catalogue No.2 (Not illustrated)

For a related preparatory pencil study (1965) see Sotheby's London, Modern and Post War British Art, June 10 2015 lot 144, (£47,500)

A highly comparable oil painting to the present work was sold Christie's, Modern British & Irish Art Evening Sale, London, March 22, 2022, Lot 7

The North Sea is one of the finest examples of Lowry’s large scale ‘sea’ paintings. These rare, seemingly simple yet highly sophisticated paintings appear far removed from Lowry’s normally busy, densely populated coastal scenes and his archetypal street and mill scenes. Lowry had always painted seascapes albeit populated with boats and people from as early as 1914, they are almost all views on the North West coast at his Mother’s favoured holiday resorts of Lytham and Rhyl, never Blackpool !

After his mother died in 1939 Lowry could make his own holiday choices and the place he loved to go on holiday the most was the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland. He said he ‘liked it because nobody else did’ this was probably helped by the fact that the hotel always made a huge fuss of him during his stays . These unpopulated seascapes first appear in the 1940s, which coincided with Lowry’s newly found freedom and improved personal finances thus allowing him extended holiday stays on his own at the Seaburn. Here from his hotel room(always the same room) Lowry could look straight out at the North Sea which obligingly offered up its wide empty skies and far distant horizons to feed Lowry’s imagination and to inspire him.

Lowry continued to return to this same subject in various mediums well into the 1960’s and it is often suggested that we should see these pictures as images of loneliness, however I believe they represent something altogether different and more positive. In his 2003 Lowry exhibition catalogue, the great Lowry dealer and connoisseur Andras Kalman commented as follows on a similar but smaller 1950’s Sea picture on loan to the exhibition from the collection of Glasgow City Art Gallery … ‘There is hardly anybody in 20th Century English art, nor among the great French artists who have even begun to re-state what the sea looks like, this is the cold, frightening Nordic Sea, seen from an un-picturesque shore, with nothing in it but waves. It still makes me shiver to look at these pictures, but all the same they are beautiful, I don’t think anyone since Turner has looked at the sea with such an original eye’ …

The North Sea demonstrates Lowry’s sophistication, skill and pure joy derived from working with his favourite Flake White pigment as the main colour which he expertly mixes with the other four colours in his preferred five colour only palette (Ivory Black, Vermillion, Prussian Blue, Yellow Ochre and Flake White). Each evening when painting he would lay up layer upon layer of paint leaving the picture it to dry then adding another layer over and over again over many months until he had achieved the desired texture and depth to create a picture that draws the viewer irresistibly into this masterly composition.

We are grateful to Jonathan Horwich for his assistance with this catalogue entry.

Sold for £840,000
Estimated at £400,000 - £600,000


Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art, 15th Oct, 2022

The sale includes the residual pictures from the collection of a Lady, of which the tour de force is the highly important impressionistic rendition of “The North Sea” by Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887-1976). Other key works from the estate include two further drawings by L S Lowry “The Pond” and “Man Taken Ill”, each representing diverse periods of the artist’s oeuvre.

Further works of note include a Henry Moore bronze, "Maquette for Warrior with Shield" (1952-53), a collection of works from the family of the artist Paul Maze (1887-1979), a good selection of works by Northern artists such as Norman Cornish, Tom McGuinness, Brian Shields “Braaq”, Joe Scarborough, Peter Brook, and celebrated Modern British artists such as Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe and Montague Dawson.



Thursday 13 October 10am-4pm, Friday 14 October 10am-5pm and morning of sale from 8am

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