Thursday, 18 July 2013

1944 - The Mansion, Pendlebury

The Mansion, Pendlebury 1944
Oil on Canvas
16½ x 20½ in. (42 x 52 cm.)
Sold [08 June 2007] for £344,800 (Christies, London, King Street)
Signed and Dated 'L.S. Lowry 1944' (lower left)

with Crane Kalman, London.
Jack Dellal, April 1982.
Henry and Maurice Laniado.
with Lefevre Gallery, London.
with Crane Kalman, London. 

Exhibition catalogue, L.S. Lowry A Selection of 36 Paintings, London, Crane Kalman, 1975, no. 16, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, L.S. Lowry R.A. 1887-1976, London, Royal Academy, 1976, pp. 24, 71, illustrated.

London, Crane Kalman, L.S. Lowry A Selection of 36 Paintings, November-December 1975, no. 16.
London, Royal Academy, L.S. Lowry R.A. 1887-1976, September - November 1976, no. 155.
Edinburgh, Scottish Arts Council Gallery, L.S. Lowry, December 1977 - January 1978, no. 34: this exhibition travelled to Hawick, Wilton Lodge Museum, January - February 1978; Aberdeen, Art Gallery, February - March 1978; Dundee, Museum and Art Gallery, March - April 1978; Inverness, Museum and Art Gallery, April - May 1978; and Perth, Museum and Art Gallery, May - June 1978. 

In 1909 Lowry's family moved to 117 Station Road, Pendlebury, which is situated between Manchester and Bolton, and was to become his home for nearly forty years. This move from the residential side of Manchester to an industrial suburb made a big impression on the 22 year old Lowry: 'At first I didn't like it at all. It took me six years. Then I got used to it; after that, interested. I wanted to depict it. I couldn't recollect that anyone else had ever done it before. Finally I became obsessed by it, and I did nothing else for 30 years' (see M. Leber and J. Spalding (eds.), exhibition catalogue, L.S. Lowry, Salford Art Gallery, 1987, p. 68).

Painted in 1944, The Mansion, Pendlebury, depicts a group of figures gathered around the doorway of an imposing building, within a partly rural setting: a slightly ramshackle fence crosses the foreground of the painting and a brood of chickens are shown scratching the ground by a gate. In front of the house, stands a horse and cart, with a woman in a bonnet seated inside and a man in a top hat, leaning on a cane is depicted in the doorway of the house.

The large house, which dominates the painting, is reminiscent of other solitary buildings that appear regularly in Lowry's work. These buildings convey Lowry's continued fascination with the subject matter of loneliness and isolation. In his early monograph on Lowry, Maurice Collis commented on the anthropomophic qualities evident in these houses: 'It is possible to carry this identification of his subjects with himself by looking more closely at his houses. The windows are sometimes like his eyes, sometimes like his whole face as it would be represented in an abstract style. The half human houses watch the scene with mournful detatchment. This variation of the theme of the solitary, where Lowry is not only the figure in a scene but becomes a presence watching it, is suggested at times by the composition alone. For instance, it is a common thing to find a barrier in the foreground of his pictures - railings, posts, or the like - as if he were looking on from behind a barrier, which he could not pass' (see The Discovery of L.S. Lowry, London, 1951, p. 22).

These ideas of loneliness and isolation are reinforced by the strange group of people that have gathered around the doorway of the house in the present painting. The reasons why groups of people are drawn together fascinated Lowry: 'Accidents interest me - I've a very queer mind you know. What fascinates me is the people they attract, the patterns those people form, and the atmosphere of tension when something has happened ... Where there's a quarrel there's always a crowd ... It's a great draw. A quarrel or a body' (see J. Spalding, exhibition catalogue, Lowry, Middlesbrough, Cleveland Art Gallery, 1987, p. 53).

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