LAURENCE STEPHEN LOWRY, R.A. (1887-1976)
LAURENCE STEPHEN LOWRY, R.A. (1887-1976)
LAURENCE STEPHEN LOWRY, R.A. (1887-1976)
LAURENCE STEPHEN LOWRY, R.A. (1887-1976)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FORMERLY IN THE COLLECTION OF ERIC AND STELLA NEWTON
LAURENCE STEPHEN LOWRY, R.A. (1887-1976)

The Clock Tower

Details
LAURENCE STEPHEN LOWRY, R.A. (1887-1976)
The Clock Tower
signed and dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1938' (lower left)
oil on canvas
21 x 15 1/2 in. (53.3 x 39.4 cm.)
Painted in 1938.
Provenance
Eric Newton, by 1950.
Eric and Stella Newton, their sale; Christie's, London, 23 November 2001, lot 104, where purchased by the present owner.
Literature
M. Collis, The Discovery of L.S. Lowry, London, 1951, p. 7, pl. 8.
Exhibited
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Painters’ Progress, May - July 1950, no. 20.
Manchester, Arts Council of Great Britain, City Art Gallery, British Painting 1925-50, 1951, no. 40.
Bradford, Cartwright Memorial Hall, Golden Jubilee Exhibition: Fifty years of British Art 1904-1954, March - June 1954, no. 696.
Paris, Galerie Creuze, La Peinture Britannique contemporaine, October 1957.
Manchester, City Art Gallery, L.S. Lowry Retrospective Exhibition, June - July 1959, no. 31.
Manchester, Arts Council of Great Britain, City Art Gallery, Northern Artists, July - August 1960, no. 42: this exhibition travelled to Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, August - September 1960; Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Laing Art Gallery, September - October 1960; Bolton, City Art Gallery, October 1960; Bradford, City Art Gallery, November 1960; and Carlisle, Public Library and Art Gallery, December 1960.
Sheffield, Graves City Art Gallery, L.S. Lowry Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings, September - October 1962, no. 28.
Sunderland, Arts Council of Great Britain, City Art Gallery, L.S. Lowry RA retrospective exhibition, August - September 1966, no. 33: this exhibition travelled to Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, September - October 1966; Bristol, City Art Gallery, October - November 1966; and London, Tate Gallery, November 1966 - January 1967.
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

L.S. Lowry’s The Clock Tower, conceived in 1938, once formed part of Eric and Stella Newton’s esteemed art collection. Eric, an art critic and survivor of the Somme and Passchendaele, and Stella, a notable costume designer, were significant supporters of the British art world in pre and post-war years. During the 1930s, Stella was working on costumes for T.S. Eliot’s stage productions and Eric had been the art critic for the Manchester Guardian before joining the Sunday Times. Eric Newton had been a constant advocate of Lowry’s work and, by the late 1930s, when the present work was created, Newton was already a household name. Newton was in high demand as a lecturer in art history across the country and had been delivering radio programmes for the BBC. The relationship between Lowry and critics like Newton was an important one. Positive critical reviews after the artist’s first one-man exhibition in 1939 played a crucial role in the artist’s discovery and subsequent success. Eric Newton’s review of Lowry’s exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery was instrumental in the artist’s critical achievements:

‘Mr. Lowry has formulated his own creed and consequently he will fit into no pigeon-hole. His vision is personal to himself … and owes nothing to any other artist. Like Cezanne he has gone straight to life … and his only concern as an artist is to translate his attitude into paint. He belongs to no school, but he may ultimately be the founder of one.’ (E. Newton in M. Collis, The Discovery of L.S. Lowry, London, 1951, p. 6).

Whilst many critics remained apprehensive of Lowry’s singular style, Newton praised the artist for his unencumbered originality. The critic admired how Lowry’s work did not lean on the conventions of the French school that, at the time, had set the precedent for modernist depictions of urban environments. In the late 1930s, Newton was one of the first art critics to offer a depoliticised interpretation of Lowry’s work, comparing the artist’s fascination with the Northern industrial landscape to Constable’s love of the English countryside. In the eyes of critics like Eric Newton, Lowry’s oeuvre was aestheticised and, in turn, became a symbol of a particular region of the country and its community. Works like The Clock Tower now epitomise an image of England’s industrial legacy, making Lowry the key figure in transforming the North into a subject of artistic veneration.

In 1938, Lowry was working on The Clock Tower alongside his oil painting of St John’s Church, Manchester. The present work seems to depict or to be, at least, based upon the same striking tower of this Manchester church. The tower is made all the more monumental through Lowry’s idiosyncratic use of perspective that drives the eye upwards to the very top. However, the landscape surrounding The Clock Tower cannot be pinpointed to any one precise location. It has been recognised that Lowry rarely painted specific places. Instead, he preferred to construct scenes from sketches in his notebooks or from his own recollections. As a result, The Clock Tower becomes a diverse amalgam of various places visited by Lowry and a unique trace of the artist’s memory that was so embedded in the Northern consciousness.

Lowry’s own consciousness is further rooted in The Clock Tower through the introduction of a self-portrait. The tall slender figure in conversation in the foreground appears as a projection of the artist within the work. Lowry stated that his figures ‘are symbols of my mood, they are myself…’ (L.S. Lowry in A. Woods ‘Mr Lowry: Community, Crowds, Cripples’, The Cambridge Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1981, p. 3). Consequently, the artist becomes directly involved in the very subject matter of The Black Tower. At the same time, Lowry maintains a certain distance from his viewers with the inclusion of a fence that runs across the forefront of the work. The fence serves as a means of separating Lowry from observers and, in turn, detaches the artist from his subject. Lowry allowed himself this important degree of objectivity when depicting society, affording The Clock Tower a unique and undeniable sense of honesty. When writing on Lowry’s The Black Tower, Maurice Collis poignantly outlined this stride toward truthfulness:

‘Thus, his (Lowry’s) paintings are both scenes of contemporary life and psychological statements. This duality adds greatly to their force and permanence. Had they been merely hysterical outbursts, vague abstract symbols of unrest, surrealist apparitions or hazy visions without anchorage in reality, the public would rapidly tire of them. But Lowry has never lost control of himself; he has never let his mood run away with him. His reserves of strength and sanity are further proofs of his greatness as an artist' (M. Collis, The Discovery of L.S. Lowry, London, 1951, p. 22).

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