Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)
Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)

Portrait of a Woman

Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)
Portrait of a Woman
signed and dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1938' (lower left)
oil on panel laid on panel
18½ x 14 in. (47 x 35.5 cm.)
with Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 1965.
Private collection, London.
with Crane Kalman Gallery, London, where purchased by the present owner, February 2009.
Looking for Lowry, a documentary film about L.S. Lowry made by Foxtrot Films, 2011.
London, Lefevre Gallery, Paintings by Barbara Hepworth Paintings by L.S. Lowry, April 1948, no. 50.
London, Crane Kalman Gallery, A Tribute to L.S. Lowry, November 1966 - January 1967, probably no. 8.
London, Crane Kalman Gallery, Lowry's Heads, April - June 2000.

Brought to you by

André Zlattinger
André Zlattinger

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

Portrait of a Woman is one of a series of portraits painted by Lowry in 1938, from which the sitter stares out with uncompromising and haunting candour. After the death of his father in 1932, Lowry was responsible for caring for his mother, Elizabeth, who was bed-ridden and required constant care. He worked full-time as a rent-collector at the Pall Mall Property Company in Manchester, coming home to look after his mother in the evenings, and still finding time to paint. During his working hours he witnessed extreme areas of urban life: 'My characters? They are all people you might see in a park. They are real people, sad people; something's gone wrong in their lives. I'm attracted to sadness...' (quoted in M. Howard, Lowry: A Visionary Artist, Salford, 2000, p. 162). These heads are evidence of both these observations and of the extreme emotional and physical strain under which he was living. Lowry remarked to his friend and patron, Monty Bloom, 'I put myself into a lot of these heads, they were reflections of my feelings at the time'.

There are about eight or ten heads of this period, including Self Portrait, 1938 (National Portrait Gallery, London) and Man with Red Eyes, 1938 (The Lowry, Salford). About the latter he said 'I was simply letting off steam. My mother was bedfast. I started a big self-portrait. Well, it started as a self-portrait. I thought, "What's the use of it? I don't want it and nobody else will". I turned it into a grotesque head. I'm glad I did it. I like it better than a self-portrait. I seemed to want to make it as grotesque as possible. All the paintings of that period were done under stress and tension and they were all based on myself. In all those heads of the late '30s I was trying to make them as grim as possible. I reflected myself in those pictures' (quoted in A. Kalman, L.S. Lowry: Conversation Pieces, London, 2003, p. 71).

More from 20th Century British & Irish Art

View All
View All