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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATES OF L.S. LOWRY AND THE LATE CAROL ANN LOWRYWe are delighted to be offering a selection of paintings and drawings from the Estate of L.S. Lowry and the Estate of Carol Ann Lowry, to whom he gifted and bequeathed the pictures. This is a unique opportunity for collectors to acquire works directly from the artist’s ownership, which have been on long term loan to museums and galleries since the artist’s death. This selection represents outstanding works from all periods of the artist's career, which encompass Lowry’s favourite themes. Within this group are a number of exceptionally strong portraits, including the iconic Ann in a Red Jumper and the striking Portrait of a Boy. Works in the collection range from the early works of the 1920s to those which were executed during a period when he actively travelled around his favourite parts of the British Isles after his retirement from the Pall Mall Property Company in 1952. These locations, as well as the cast of northern characters, inspired and stimulated him to continue to paint and draw for the rest of his life. Some of these works have only been displayed to the public while being on loan to The Lowry, and we look forward to showing them to a wider audience.

Ann in a Red Jumper

Ann in a Red Jumper
indistinctly signed and dated 'LOWRY 1957' (lower left)
oil on canvas laid on board
14 x 10 in. (35.5 x 25.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1957.
A gift from L.S. Lowry to Carol Ann Lowry.
London, Crane Kalman Gallery, Heads, April - June 2000.
Salford, The Lowry, on long term loan.
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.
Sale Room Notice
Please note that this work is indistinctly signed and dated lower left.

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Angus Granlund
Angus Granlund Modern British & Irish Art

Lot Essay

‘Though anyone who knew Lowry had little reason to doubt that she was real, her existence has never been proved. Likely to have been an amalgam of people Lowry knew personally and public figures, he drew and painted her again and again. Ann’s stylised features make her an abstract, ideal woman – Lowry’s own response to the Rossetti femme fatale’
-Claire Stewart

Lowry’s portraits hold an important place in the schema of Lowry’s work and like his industrial landscapes which are typically composites, they borrow elements from both real and imagined people. Within his field of portraiture, there lie at the very heart of them, the images that Lowry created in both oil and pencil of his idealised sitter, Ann, as depicted in the present work. The present highly-chromatic work is one of the very best examples of Lowry’s representation of Ann: it has been exhibited infrequently and has remained in the artist’s estate until now, representing a unique opportunity for collectors.

At once familiar and distant; friendly and off-ish; confident yet shy; we see before us a perfectly oval face, ageless, set against the familiar all white background which provides not one clue of the context of her narrative, or indeed of her creation. She is alone, yet seems inquisitive and curious and whilst perhaps daring to glance at the viewer over her right shoulder, we are beholden to meet her gaze. For the man that created her, she may have been a sitter to be venerated. Discussing the gaze of the sitter of another oil of this period, Portrait of a Young Man, 1955, Michael Howard comments, ‘Central to the image are the haunting eyes, a look that appears throughout Lowry’s work. For the viewer, the effect can be disconcerting so piercingly does the [boy] stare out at the world from his anonymous space’ (M. Howard, Lowry: A Visionary Artist, Salford, 2000, p. 164). Howard comments on the lack of context or clues for the viewer, ‘no fixing mechanisms locate the figure[s] in a safe distant space of the picture; instead, the whiteness of the paper, canvas or board operates as a metaphor for the gap between us and the subject, and on occasion Lowry gives the effect of his figures lurching into our space’ (M. Howard, ibid., p. 174). We inevitably make assumptions on seeing this portrait and are caught by her over-sized eyes, penetrating gaze, carefully delineated eyebrows and impossibly long neck which add to the uncompromising and haunting candour of the work.

In Lowry’s depictions of Ann, she always appears alone, as does the artist in his many self-portraits, staring out at the viewer. Recognisable from her dark eyes, white face and ruby-red lips, Ann is now understood to be a fantasy figure, a combination of the most important women in Lowry's life: variously his mother; his god-daughter, Ann Hilder; a childhood friend from holidays spent at Swinton Moss near Lytham St. Annes who had died in 1913; or, a fellow student from the Manchester Art College days, to whom he was attracted. Like Rossetti's sumptuous portraits, including those of Jane Morris as depicted in Pandora, which Lowry collected and hung in his home, Ann is a symbol of a perfect ‘dream woman’, unsullied by reality. Claire Stewart comments, ‘Though anyone who knew Lowry had little reason to doubt that she was real, her existence has never been proved. Likely to have been an amalgam of people Lowry knew personally and public figures, he drew and painted her again and again. Ann’s stylised features make her an abstract, ideal woman – Lowry’s own response to the Rossetti femme fatale’ (C. Stewart, exhibition catalogue, Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites, Salford, The Lowry, 2018, p. 13).

Claire Stewart explains that Lowry grew up in a city with one of the greatest public collections of Pre-Raphaelite art in the country, ‘The collections at Manchester were a constant pleasure but in 1911 Lowry had the chance to see a much greater variety of work. The 'Loan Exhibition of Works by Ford Maddox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelites' opened to the public that autumn. 320 works were listed in the catalogue, displayed across seven rooms’. [Lowry’s own treasured copy of the exhibition catalogue survives in the artist’s estate and informed his later collecting]. Stewart continues, ‘It was Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti that stood head and shoulders above the rest … With Rossetti, he went one step further, describing him as “the only man whose work I have ever wanted to possess”. As a young man, in conversation with his father, he recalled saying, “I wish you’d buy me a Rossetti painting”. By the time Lowry finally did buy his first Rossetti drawing, he had nurtured a love of the artist’s work for over forty years’ (C. Stewart, ibid., pp. 7-9). Christopher Newall comments, ‘Both Lowry and Rossetti were fascinated by particular women with whom they were restricted from entering into a conventional loving relationship, by circumstances, and psychology, but who they possessed by making paintings and drawings of the greatest possible intensity’ (C. Newall, ibid., p. 19).

Michael Howard puts the allure of Rossetti’s women for Lowry into context, ‘Although he had been collecting Rossetti’s work since the late 1940s, by the early 1960s, when he was better able to afford this, Lowry began to buy the late erotic paintings of his favourite Victorian artists, works that he had seen on so many museum walls and had carried in his head since at least the beginning of the century. Even his mysterious heads of the Thirties were not only a synthesis of various characters he had met, but were also the unacknowledged children of Dante Gabriel Rossetti … His women, as Rossetti’s frequently do, dominate an enclosed pictorial field, confronting the viewer with a direct frontal gaze that blocks any simple explanation of their thoughts or feelings. Their feelings reveal the odd shadowing around lips and chin that is particular to Rossetti. These late, sexually charged Pre-Raphaelite works were as dangerous and thrilling to Lowry as the act of drawing and painting his private erotic works, which exactly coincide with the beginning of his art collection. Their heavy, sensual, languorous features, the full lips, sharply delineated eyebrows, high forehead and staring eyes, as much as their pallour, symmetry, columnar necks and heavy hair, announce a pungent sensual attraction, not altogether wholesome, or at least so Lowry admitted. To Edwin Mullins he said, ‘As for my Rossetti paintings all around this room: I have always been fascinated by certain types of women he painted. I’m a Victorian alright ….’ Rossetti’s women, he said, were ‘like snakes’. And in the Tyne Tees television documentary of 1968 he declared them to be like ‘ladies of the night’.

We can perhaps see, in the artist’s fascination with Rossetti, an explanation for how he used his art throughout his life: to make the world safe, and to be master of its representation. To contemplate and later to buy Rossetti’s work was exciting, like keeping a caged beast or dangerous reptiles. These are glacial, Medusa-like beauties, cool, distant and hierarchical. They are depicted locked in their own reveries, the better to allow the artist and the viewer to appreciate their beauty. Rossetti’s sister, Christina, realised that her brother’s poems and canvasses celebrated not the real women on whom they were based, but were in fact projections of the artist’s own notions of womanhood: ‘One face looks out from all his canvasses … not as she is but as she fills his dreams’ (M. Howard, op. cit., pp. 183-184). In conclusion, Tom Rosenthal comments, ‘As Lowry himself intuited, Rossetti’s beauties were at least partially his sexual fantasies. So why should not Lowry have had the pleaure of a fantasy woman who meant so much to him and his art, who represented for him an unattainable but perfect reality’ (T.G. Rosenthal, op. cit, p. 274).

'These (pictures)', wrote David Bathurst in an article entitled 'Talking to Lowry', referring to Lowry’s Rossettis, published in the Christie's Review for 1964-65, 'he collects with an insatiable zeal. Few things can drag Lowry away from the north of England but, as he says himself, "I'd be on the 11.58 tomorrow if you had another like the one I bought in April. I have nightmares sometimes that Christie's are going to hold an entire sale of Rossettis"'. At that date he owned twelve examples, and by the time he ceased collecting Pre-Raphaelite works around 1970, he owned seventeen works by Rossetti. Christie’s sold Lowry's most important Rossetti, which he had acquired in 1964, as mentioned in the interview above, the prime version of Proserpine, on 27 November 1987, (lot 140) for £1,300,000, a figure which long remained a world record for a Victorian picture. Subsequently, Christie’s have sold other key Pre-Raphaelite works for Lowry’s estate, including Pandora, on 14 June 2000, (lot 14) for £2,643,750, which again set a new world record for the artist at the time.

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