Reverend Geoffrey Bennett, the previous owner of Group of People, was a close friend of L.S. Lowry. They first met in 1926 through Lowry's cousin Grace Shephard, when she and Bennett worked together at the London and County Westminster Bank, Manchester. Shortly after getting married, Bennett acquired The Organ Grinder, 1934, from Lowry, and thereafter built an extraordinary collection of works by the artist, including the present lot.
There was an old-fashioned formality about their relationship, they always referred to each other as 'Mr Lowry' and 'The Reverend Gentleman' (after his ordination as an Anglican clergyman in 1962). Geoffrey Bennett remarked that 'Mr Lowry and I had an affinity which is rare between two people. It was a sympathy, an understanding. I could understand him perfectly, and I think he understood me, because our background, our upbringings were so similar. There was no fuss about our friendship, we simply accepted each other. He liked my views and I admired what he did'.
When Lowry died in February 1976, Reverend Bennett conducted the funeral service. He thanked God for 'his life and his work ... His friends are better for having known him and the world better for having their eyes opened by his penetrating insight into what lies around them'.