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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 LOWRY

Children Walking up Steps

Children Walking up Steps
oil on board
10 x 14 in. (25.4 x 35.6 cm.)
Painted circa the 1960s.
A gift from L.S. Lowry to Carol Ann Lowry.
M. Howard, Lowry: A Visionary Artist, Salford, 2000, p. 49, as 'Children on the steps', illustrated.
T.G. Rosenthal, L.S. Lowry: The Art and the Artist, Norwich, 2010, p. 288, as 'Children on the steps', illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, L.S. Lowry: Artist of the People, Nanjing, University of the Arts, 2014, pp. 71-72, exhibition not numbered, illustrated.
Salford, The Lowry, Unseen Lowry, June - September 2013.
Nanjing, University of the Arts, L.S. Lowry: Artist of the People, November - December 2014, exhibition not numbered.
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.

Brought to you by

Angus Granlund
Angus Granlund Modern British & Irish Art

Lot Essay

'I would stand for hours on one spot ... and scores of little kids who hadn't had a wash for weeks would come and stand round me'
-L.S. Lowry

In the years leading up to Lowry’s retirement and through the 1950s, Lowry gained great commercial success with his industrial landscapes. There was enormous demand for these paintings, which was a great vindication for Lowry of the importance, integrity and beauty of the subject matter that he had painted for nearly forty years. As he reached the last few years of the 1950s, Lowry decided to change direction, having no more desire to paint such pictures. The landscape of Britain was in flux, and in a remark to Frank Mullineux, Lowry said, ‘The strangest thing is that when the industrial scene passed out in reality, it passed out of my mind. I could not do it now, but I have no desire to do it now, and that would show’. The subject matter that had been a key part of his life, factories with belching chimneys, dingy streets of terraces, and dirty canals was fast disappearing, either destroyed in the Second World War, or cleared away in the frenzy of post-war development.

The figure studies that Lowry chose to paint, following the landscapes, were closely observed, and in the case of Children Walking up Steps, the importance of the figures is vital to the success of the painting. The industrial landscape although still clearly visible in the background, plays a far less prominent role, other than as a record of the changing world visible through the partially constructed steps and what seems to be a black slag heap just featuring in the very foreground. Lowry has used the steps in this painting as a clever device to maximise the number of figures in the composition, filling not just the foreground, but the centre ground too, from left to right. This marks a radical change of direction from the traditional composition of his industrial landscapes, where the eye is drawn through the painting into the far distance.

There is a great energy in Children Walking up Steps, felt most keenly in the children marching up and down the steps, which extends beyond both pictorial planes, giving a sense of an unending rhythm of parading figures. There is a sense of humour and fun, particularly with the naughty children, hiding behind the wall, who smile and stare out at the view, inviting us into their games, and almost with a knowing wink let us into their secrets. The striking black and red steps, provide the painting with a strong compositional structure, unifying the separate layers of figures and the different planes of space. The scurrying children seem to look in all manner of directions, the ones staring directly out, some amusedly, seem to have had their attention caught by something out of sight – perhaps it is us, or perhaps it is the artist himself.

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