Lot 36
  • 36

Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A.

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A.
  • Tanker off the North East Coast
  • oil on board
  • 37.5 by 49cm.; 14¾ by 19¼in.


Stone Gallery, Newcastle

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1965.

'I'm very fond of ships. The sea, too, I love. To watch it is like letting off steam: it's so vast' (The artist, quoted in Edwin Mullins, 'The Lonely Life of L.S.Lowry', pub. in Michael Leber & Judy Sandling (ed.), L.S. Lowry, Phaidon/Salford Art Gallery, Oxford 1987, p.69)


Whilst Lowry is indelibly associated with the north-west of England, and specifically with Manchester and its surrounding area, he had a long, fruitful and important association with the north-east. Coming late in his life (although Lowry had visited the area on occasion before, these trips only became regular and extended from around 1960 onwards when he was already over seventy), this association produced a body of work which is often very different from the 'typical' industrial Lowry subjects. Most notably, the paintings from the north-east show a very strong concentration on images of the sea and associated subjects.


The sea was not a new subject for the artist, with his very earliest sketches and paintings including boats and scenes from family holidays at places such as Rhyl and Lytham St Anne's, and in the late 1930s and early 1940s he produced a number of paintings empty of all subject bar sea and sky. This simplicity of image was something that Lowry transposed to his sea paintings that originate from his trips to the north-east. The images of boats are presented as simple forms parallel to the viewer but in a space we cannot physically reach and have a very distinctive and pervasive quality.


Mostly based at the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland, Lowry made wide forays around the region, and spent many hours watching the shipping passing up and down the coast. Unlike his earlier works, the paintings of boats such as the present lot are resolutely working vessels, tankers, tugs, ferries, and the emphasis on their stark dark silhouettes gives a monumentality to their forms that is very much in keeping with the increasing paring down of forms that is seen in much of Lowry's later work. Recent commentators have noted that this growing sense of isolation in Lowry's later paintings was at least in part autobiographical.  Indeed the artist suggested that his self-portrait might take the form of 'A tall straight pillar standing up in the middle of the sea, waiting for the sea of life to finish it off' (The artist, quoted in Tilly Marshall, Life with Lowry, Hutchinson, London 1981, p.99).