Prints lead northern rising

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Gabriel Berner

Prints by Modern British artists are often touted as an affordable way-in for collectors on a budget, but it seems this is not always the case for northern powerhouse LS Lowry (1887-1976).

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Lowry’s best-known prints can now fetch more than his original drawings, based on results in a sale at Tennants (20% buyer’s premium) of Leyburn.

The top lot of the Modern & Contemporary sale at the North Yorkshire saleroom on October 20 was a Fine Art Trade Guild print of Lowry’s famous original Going to the Match – memorably acquired by the FA at Sotheby’s in 1999 for £1.75m, a record for any Mod Brit painting at the time.

From an edition of 300 produced in 1972 before Lowry died, the 21½in x 2ft 3in (55 x 70cm) piece sold for £17,500, just below its top guide.

Prints of Going to the Match are strongly contested when they appear on the secondary market, frequently making over £10,000 if condition is good (Lowry’s prints have a tendency to fade). In July, Bonhams Knightsbridge achieved £18,000 for one purchased by the vendor in 1972, which also included the original receipt.

Provenance importance

Among two original Lowry drawings at Tennants was Thoughtful Man, an 8 x 5in (20 x 12cm) pencil work from 1966. As fakes are sadly prevalent in the Lowry market, good provenance carries extra currency and this work had been given by the artist to fellow artist Simon Marshall.

Marshall’s family owned the Stone Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which exhibited Lowry’s works in the 1960s.

Executed on Seaburn Hotel writing paper where Lowry stayed when holidaying in Sunderland, the drawing sold for £16,500, comfortably above the £9000-12,000 guide.

The other work, a small felt-tip caricature study of a dog, initialled and dated 1969, sold on bottom estimate for £2000.

Following the sale, Tennants announced it had secured the consignments of two further Lowry works, which were due to go under the hammer as ATG went to press.

Both painted in the 1960s and not seen on the market in nearly two decades, the paintings of a factory street scene and a black house, carry hopes of £50,000-70,000 and £120,000- 180,000 respectively.