1 More
4 More
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

Man with Red Scarf

Man with Red Scarf
signed and dated 'L S LOWRY 1963' (lower left)
oil on canvas
24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm.)
Painted in 1963.
A gift from L.S. Lowry to Carol Ann Lowry.
Manchester, Manchester Art Gallery, 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 Director, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

In the 1960s Lowry returned to the single isolated figure, with a renewed intensity, painting a myriad of haunting portraits, such as Man with a Red Scarf, 1963. Set against neutral, amorphous backgrounds, as seen here, his lonely figures stare out at the viewer, often wide-eyed and gaunt, their expressive characteristics reflective of their inner psychological turmoil and angst. Shelley Rohde describes, ‘Now he had a new obsession: his single figures, his grotesques. The struggling, surging, misshapen homunculi who had lived for so long in the shadow of the mills emerged at last from their background to stand alone, as he stood alone. If he saw them as odd, it was because he felt himself to be odd; if he saw them as different, it was because he felt himself to be different; if he saw them as rejected, it was because despite all his current acclaim, he saw himself as rejected’ (S. Rohde, L.S. Lowry A Biography, Salford, 1999, p. 360).

Parallels can be made with these portraits of the 1960s to those painted 30 years earlier, in the mid-1930s, when the first ‘grotesque’ portraits appeared. This period marked a stressful and turbulent point in the artist’s life, following the death of his father in 1932, which left Lowry with the role of full-time carer for his bedbound mother and fiscally crushed by a sea of unpaid debts. Whilst also trying to juggle his full-time job at the Pall Mall Property Company in Manchester and carve out time to paint. Shelley Rohde explains the effect it had on Lowry: ‘For the next seven years Lowry, indeed, did not dare to go far from his mother. He became yet more detached from the world around him, still further withdrawn, his life divided between his filial duties to the querulous old woman upstairs, the demands of his job and his need to paint’ (S. Rohde, op. cit., p. 194).

Although an immensely traumatic period for Lowry, this time spurned some of his most personal and most poignant works. With the artist channelling his anguish into a series of haunting portraits, which fall somewhere between self-portraits and what Lowry termed ‘grotesques’. Two of the most striking paintings of the period were Head of a Man, 1938 and Man with Red Eyes, 1938, both of which bear a number of parallels to the present work, not only in the figure’s attire of a red scarf and large dark coat, but also his hair, parted to the left, his gaunt face and his wide staring eyes, punctuated with blood red. Lowry spoke of the latter portrait and the emotional outlet these paintings provided: ‘I was simply letting off steam. My mother was bedfast … 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 thirties I was trying to make them as grim as possible. I reflected myself in those pictures’ (L.S. Lowry, quoted in J. Sandling & M. Leber, L.S. Lowry The Man and his Art, Salford, 1992, p. 21).

Although only a few works are recognised, or recorded by Lowry as self-portraits, many of these paintings can be seen as a reflection of the artist himself. Either through the repetition of small physical characteristics, such as the fringe squared off on the left, as seen here, or through the emotional and psychological weight that Lowry instils within his work. Indeed the artist stated, ‘I wanted to paint myself into what absorbed me’ (L.S. Lowry, quoted in M. Howard, Lowry A Visionary Artist, Salford, 2000, p. 163). This practice is evident in works such as his painting of 1966, which depicts a lone obelisk surrounded by the sea, which he titled Self-Portrait.

These portraits also represent the every-day characters that Lowry passed on the streets in Salford; the elderly, the homeless, the disabled, the workers at the mills – drawn to those that were desolate and downcast. Lowry described: ‘There’s a grotesque streak in me and I can’t help it. 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, and there are some very sad things you see’. He continued, ‘There is something about these people that is remarkable, you know. They have a look in their eye. You wonder what they are really looking at. There is a mystery about them. I feel I am compelled to try and draw them’ (L.S. Lowry, quoted in M. Leber & J. Sandling, L.S. Lowry, London, 2010, p. 81). Rohde comments that Lowry’s affinity for those that were physically or psychologically damaged, can be seen as a reflection of his own emotional injury. She explains, ‘His own fame he said came, ‘too late’; the mother who’s approval would have been his true satisfaction, had died. Such was the emotional injury that he sought to salve with painting. His morbid penchant for depicting cripples and freaks can be seen as addressing his own sense of leading a damaged life. The devastation and dysfunction he painted is the outer reflection of inner trauma’ (S. Rohde's, quoted in M. James, ‘Alone in the Crowd’, in exhibition catalogue, Lowrys People, Salford, The Lowry, 2000, p. 23).

More from Modern British Art Evening Sale

View All
View All