Saturday, 6 July 2013

1941 - Romantic Landscape

Romantic Landscape 1941
Oil on Panel
39 x 27 cm
Signed and Dated 'LS LOWRY 1941' (lower right)

With The Lefevre Gallery, London
Sale; Sotheby's, London, 20 April 1966, lot 102

London, The Lefevre Gallery, Paintings by Barbara Hepworth, Paintings by L.S. Lowry, April 1948, no.15
Possibly Bolton, Prestons Art Gallery

An acute observer from a young age, Lowry's earlyLandscape (1912, Collection City of Salford Art Gallery) captures well the artist's fascination with the genre, as well as calling reference to the almost Impressionistic style that the artist courted at several points throughout his life. Perhaps best known for the figures within them, it was to the landscapes, both populated and unpopulated that the young artist was initially so drawn to, depicting the same retreating avenue of trees, highlighting the artist's adept use of linear perspective, that were to appear two years later inCountry Lane (1914, Private Collection) before being recalled once again for the present work. As with many of Lowry's landscapes, the artist pieced together elements from different locations both real and fictional in his creation of the scene, and the present work clearly draws upon these earlier paintings, as well as further sketches and en plein airdrawings made by the artist.

With an expressive use of thick impasto, especially visible in his trademark use of white, here dotted with bold flecks of red that draw the viewer in, the artist creates a heightened and almost nostalgic sense of the history of the scene. In this romantic and dream-like composition, the house lurks mysteriously, almost engulfed by the trees and sky, as barely visible figures wander in the foreground. Lowry later commented that "[m]ost of my land and townscape is composite. Made up; part real and part imaginary ... bits and pieces of my home locality. I don't even know I'm putting them in. They just crop up on their own, like things do in dreams" (Mervyn Levy, Painters of Today: LS Lowry, A.R.A., Studio Books, London, 1961, p.14, quoted in Michael Howard, Lowry, A Visionary Painter, Lowry Press, Salford, 2000, p.205). This effectively summarises the present painting, displaying not only the breadth and variation of the artist's oeuvre, but also the skill of his almost subconscious compositional ability.

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