Goodness, if only I had invested in a few LS Lowry prints or tiny originals when I started this column 30 years ago!
This ‘marmite’ painter – as many praise his work as view it as amateurish – has been a saleroom darling of late. Even limited edition prints of his famous ‘matchstick men’ are making thousands at auction.
Yet here’s a curious thing. At a recent Tennants sale in Leyburn, a fine Lowry oil, which the artist would have liked, his mother loved, and I certainly admired, remained unsold.
This was Lowry’s Yachts at Lytham St Annes, which appeared at Tennants on March 20.
Lawrence Stephen Lowry had a lifelong fascination with the sea and sketched and painted seascapes throughout his long career.
Juxtaposed with his bustling industrial scenes filled with scurrying figures, Lowry’s seascapes are imbued with a sense of calm and nostalgia for childhood holidays on the North West coast.
Indeed, the artist’s mother, who never liked his industrial work, only once voiced any praise for a painting – another scene of boats at Lytham that Lowry was to hang in his bedroom for the rest of his life.
Masterly use of colour
The Tennants’ painting exemplifies Lowry’s masterly use of flake-white, here employed as both sea and sky merging into one; the yachts providing notes of colour and movement against the shimmering, light-filled sea.
Signed and dated 1951, oil on panel, about 9 by 14 inches, Yachts at Lytham is one of a series of pictures Lowry painted in his beloved Lancashire over 30 years.
It remained unsold against pre-sale hopes of £250,000-£350,000. Today’s collector/investors probably prefer the artist’s figure-filled industrial townscapes to his serene and painterly seascapes.