Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)
Street scene
signed and dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1958' (lower left), inscribed 'STREET SCENE' (on the canvas overlap)
oil on canvas
16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm.)
with Lefevre Gallery, London.
Mrs Sylvia Shine, by 1976.
with Richard Green, London, where purchased by the present owner, 1999.
London, Royal Academy, L.S. Lowry, September - November 1976, no. 242.

Brought to you by

Bernard Williams
Bernard Williams

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

This is the undoubted work of a master. It is also reminiscent, in its huge number of very busy people doing not very much but, surely, making a lot of noise and movement, of the old theatrical joke of the harassed play director faced with an unruly crowd of extras who, in despair, shouts at them: "For God's sake don't do something, Just stand there!".

The composition is particularly ingenious. The end of row house, with its steep staircase, dominates the cross-roads in a subtly powerful manner as, to its left, the road goes downwards into the distance and towards the two immensely tall chimneys (with no factories attached to them). To the right the road on the other side of the house climbs upwards to pass the church with its spire clock tower.

To the left, with its pink tinged end wall is some sort of public building, possibly a cinema, with a few people walking past while the individuals include a girl wheeling a pram bearing a boy, presumably her substantial baby brother, sitting in the back with his knees protruding at the front.

On the right there is a rather non-descript, dark building with a lot of people standing outside, either having left it or waiting to get in. Lacking any signage it is unlikely to be the pub but it could easily be some branch of non-conformist worship having just come to an end.

Facing this crowd is a solitary man conversing with a cat. As Lowry has confessed he was quite good at doing dogs but most cats defeated him. This is no exception since the perspective indicates that it is at least three feet tall, even when sitting.

There are also hints of a police presence. In front of the house there appears to be a policeman senior enough to wear a flat officer's hat; in the bottom right hand corner a young woman is being led away by a uniformed man wearing the traditional copper's tall helmet.

There is not enough space here to analyse all the variegated human activities Lowry has attributed to so many people with so many different parts of the cross-roads, and contiguous streets, with which he has so ingeniously filled the space available. Suffice to say that this is one of his finest portrayals of North-country urban life.


More from 20th Century British & Irish Art Including The Selwyn Demmy Collection of Works by L S Lowry

View All
View All