Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE PROPERTY OF MR MORTIMER CAPLIN, WASHINGTON D.C. The present picture is being offered from the collection of Mortimer M. Caplin, (b. July 1916). Caplin graduated first in his class from the University of Virginia Law School in 1940. He enlisted in the Navy shortly afterwards and served as U.S. Navy beachmaster during the Normandy invasion. He was cited as a member of the initial landing force on Omaha Beach and was subsequently awarded the Légion d'honneur for exceptional military conduct. In 1950, Caplin returned to the Law School as a professor of law, specialising in tax and corporate law and publishing extensively in these fields. Following President John F. Kennedy's election, Caplin served on the President's Task Force on Taxation and in January 1961 was appointed U.S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. He remained in that post until July 1964, when he resigned to form the law firm Caplin & Drysdale. Caplin continued to teach at the Law School from 1965 to 1988 as a visiting professor. Caplin's commitment to public service, teaching, and the educational process has been recognized by many awards, including the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Law, the University of Virginia's highest honor. On leaving the U. S. Government, he received the Alexander Hamilton Award, the highest award conferred by the Secretary of the Treasury, for his 'distinguished leadership.' He is also the recipient of the Achievement Award from the Tax Society of New York University; Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award, American Jewish Committee; Tax Executives Institute Distinguished Service Award; Veterans of Foreign Wars Public Service Award; and the Virginia State Bar and Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants Award. He has received honorary degrees from the University of South Carolina, Washington College, and St. Michael's College.
Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)

The Old Horse Ambulance

Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976)
The Old Horse Ambulance
signed and dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1941' (lower left)
oil on panel laid on board
15¾ x 23 3/8 in. (40 x 59.4 cm.)
with Lefevre Gallery, London.
Edward N. Marshall; Sotheby's, London, 13 December 1967, lot 143 (£2,400), where purchased by Crane Kalman Gallery, London.
Nathan Cummings, from whom purchased by the present owner in 1985.
T. Rosenthal, L.S. Lowry the Art and the Artist, Norwich, 2010, p. 169.
London, Lefevre Gallery, Josef Herman and L.S. Lowry, February - March 1943, no. 14.
Glasgow, Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, 1944, no. 534.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

In areas across Britain horse ambulances continued in daily use until the year following the First World War. They would be called out for a multitude of ailments including highly infectious diseases such as scarlet fever or diphtheria. Not only of fatal potential but capable of spreading like wild fire, these diseases were particularly threatening because of the overcrowding in factories and mills and the cramped and unventilated living conditions that the workers commonly inhabited.

In his position as a clerk and rent collector for the Pall Mall Property Company, Lowry called on tenants in some of the poorer districts of Manchester and would have encountered horse ambulances fairly frequently. This remnant of a pre-war urban life would have captured his imagination. Although dated 1941, the painting harks back to an earlier period, without motor cars, a nostalgic past of Lowry's imagining.

Lowry was also drawn to dramatic incidents. He said: 'Accidents interest me - I have a very queer mind you know. What fascinates me is the people they attract. The patterns those people form, an atmosphere of tension when something's happened ... Where there's a quarrel there's always a crowd ... It's a great draw, A quarrel or A body' (see exhibition catalogue, L.S. Lowry, London, Barbican Art Gallery, 1988, p. 53). Paintings such as Fever Van (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), A Fight (The Lowry, Salford), The Hawker's Cart (Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh), and The Arrest (Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham), all focus on a small crowd caught by the artist in a dramatic moment. Lowry's characters often take on the role of observers or onlookers unprepared to step in and assist each other, reinforcing the anonymity of the existence of people living in a large industrial city, where individuals are at the mercy of forces beyond their own control.

In the current painting the spectacle itself is not actually depicted, although the densely packed crowd of people hovering around the end of terrace, to the left of the composition, indicates its position. As one moves outwards from this point towards the foreground the figures become more dispersed. This masterly distribution of the onlookers is set against one of Lowry's iconic industrial landscapes, with church spires, terraced houses and factory chimneys billowing smoke. The resulting composition is an iconic painting within the artist's oeuvre which has not been offered at auction for nearly forty five years and which has not been publicly exhibited since 1944, shortly after it was painted.

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