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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PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED BRITISH COLLECTION
LAURENCE STEPHEN LOWRY, R.A. (1887-1976)

Portrait of a Young Man

Details
LAURENCE STEPHEN LOWRY, R.A. (1887-1976)
Lowry, L.S.
Portrait of a Young Man
signed and dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1961' (lower right)
oil on panel
8 x 4 ¾ in. (20.2 x 12.1 cm.)
Painted in 1961.
Provenance
A gift from from the artist to a previous owner.
Their sale; Christie's, London, 23 November 2001, lot 103.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 18 November 2005, lot 126, where purchased by the present owner.
Literature
Exhibition catalogue, LS Lowry, London, Richard Green Gallery, 2002, pp. 34-35, no. 9, illustrated.
Exhibited
London, Richard Green Gallery, LS Lowry, April 2002, no. 9.

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Lot Essay

L.S. Lowry painted Portrait of a Young Man in 1961, at a liberating point in his career, having largely moved on from his industrial landscapes to new subject matter, such as single figures and groups. Before the war, Lowry had primarily portrayed people in the form of crowds overshadowed by industrial buildings; the figures were small and not particularly detailed, often reduced to mere flecks of paint to convey a sense of urgency in the monotony of their grinding daily lives. Following post-war urban regeneration, Lowry turned his artistic focus towards fuller depictions of people, offering a deeper understanding of the individual.

Centred in the present work is a slim young man staring directly at the viewer with a slightly furrowed brow, drawing our attention. While this is not explicitly a self-portrait, Lowry was known to imbue his portraits with hints of himself, and the appearance of the subject here is not dissimilar to his own, if we consider Self-Portrait, 1925 (The Lowry, Salford). As a rent collector, he sought an understated style: ‘He didn’t want to look bohemian like Augustus John, for instance. He wanted to look like a northern clerk in an office with a routine job’ (A. Kalman and A. Lambirth, L.S. Lowry: Conversation Pieces, London, 2003, p. 47).

With thick, textured paint, Lowry gives Portrait of a Young Man a dynamic, tactile feel, bringing the subject to life. The work is in keeping with the artist’s distinctive restricted colour palette; matching the lips with the tie using bright red, and pairing the hair with the jacket through a brown-grey shade, Lowry grants the young man a harmonious, neat appearance. This impression is supported by the black brushstrokes which outline and accentuate the different planes of colour. The warm, creamy-white shade used for the subject’s skin and for the background is a trademark of Lowry’s paintings, as he greatly enjoyed the effect that it produced: ‘He used pure flake white to produce the base of his paintings and found, in an experiment he undertook with the assistance of his father, that over a period the “dead white … had turned a beautifully creamy grey-white”’ (M. Leber and J. Sandling, L.S. Lowry, Oxford, 1987, p. 28).

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