Lot 2
  • 2


250,000 - 350,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Laurence Stephen Lowry
  • Father Going Home
  • signed and dated 1962
  • oil on canvas


Monty Bloom, Stockport, and thence by descent to Martin Bloom
Michael Grimes, Liverpool, where acquired by the father of the present owner in the late 1980s


Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, The Works of L.S. Lowry, 15th September - 14th October 1962, cat. no.88;
Salford, Salford Art Gallery, L.S. Lowry, Centenary Exhibition, 16th October - 29th November 1987, un-numbered exhibition;
Middlesbrough, Cleveland Art Gallery, Lowry, 5th December 1987 - 17th January 1988, cat. no.57, with Arts Council tour to Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry; Stoke-on-Trent Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent; Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter and Barbican Art Gallery, London.


Mervyn Levy, The Paintings of L.S. Lowry, Oils and Watercolours, Jupiter Books, London, 1975, cat. no.86.

Catalogue Note

L.S. Lowry is, of course, the artist of the hardship and troubles of working-class life in the industrial cities of the north of England. Yet his work is equally about the resilience of working-class culture and how their identity gave strength to the factory workers of Manchester and its surrounding industrial towns. Lowry’s people may bend under the pressure of their tough lives, but those ‘matchstick’ legs never threaten to break. Amongst all this hardship is also found optimism: this is why children are such an important part of Lowry’s painted world, as they represent life untroubled by work, a life with no little joy.

As Lowry travelled the city – especially as a consequence of his job as a rent collector, something that he continued to do long after he had made it as an artist – he was constantly on alert for those surprising images that the city itself would offer up, with amazing frequency, if only one cared to look. Father Going Home is one such image: humorous, strange, enrapturing, joyful, it feels as ‘natural’ as anything the new breed of ‘street photographers’ of the 1950s and '60s could have come up with. And yet, as always this ‘naturalness’ disguises Lowry’s virtuosity as a painter. In Father Going Home we see all of the subtle tricks with which Lowry infuses his apparent naturalism, quietly distorting the real world to lend it an Expressionist quality not dissimilar to that of Edvard Munch. The man’s body is curved into a deliberate ‘S’; his back heel lifts whilst his front foot twists, almost like a dancer, lending him a swagger that succinctly tells of his mood (a swagger that Lowry leaves us thinking has come from a few swift pints on the way home).

In the window – beautifully rendered with just a few dabs of paint from a loaded brush – a small boy waits, the smile on his face mirroring that of his father. Without this little boy, the painting is still an evocative portrait of a working-man for whom, with the work-day done, all is well in the world. But with him, it creates an emotional charge (framed by hard stone paving slabs and a monotonous red-brick wall) of such sweetness it would melt the hardest of hearts.

In an equally Expressionist manner, Lowry imbues the physical surroundings with the emotion of the main human narrative. A cold, brittle white usually dominates his work, a visual metaphor for the hardness of city life, but here everything is bathed in warmth, from the bright red of the father’s tie, through to the reds that suffuse the green-brown of his coat and his strangely jolly yellow bag, through to the bricks of the terraces, a little pinker and lighter than usual.

Painted in the early 1960s, at a time when Lowry was becoming increasingly fascinated with what he called his ‘grotesques’ – single figures defined by strangeness, otherness, literally isolated against plain white backgrounds – Father Going Home is all about the other side of city life (even if a pub-fuelled temporary reprieve). As British New Wave Cinema of the 1950s and '60s sought to show, working-class culture is not all sorrow: it is irrepressible and has swagger.