Beach and Promenade 1948
Oil on Canvas
25 x 30 in. (63.5 x 76.2 cm.)
Signed and Dated 'L.S. Lowry 1948' (lower right)
with Crane Kalman, London.
Exhibition catalogue, A Tribute to L.S. Lowry, London, Crane Kalman, 1966, pl. IX.
possibly London, Lefevre Gallery, L.S. Lowry, October 1958, no. 3, as 'On the Promenade'.
London, Crane Kalman, A Tribute to L.S. Lowry, November 1966 - January 1967, no. 19.
London, Crane Kalman, L.S. Lowry: A Selection of Masterpieces, December 1994, catalogue not traced.
Painted in 1948, Beach and Promenade is a scene of post-war Britain, in which Lowry's figures are seen to be relaxed and carefree. Lowry was fascinated both by the sea and by our relationship with it, and in the present work, he expresses the sense of freedom and pleasure that the sea and beach provided.
Lowry's bright palette conveys a sense of energy and optimism. The red house and colourful swimming costumes of the bathers suggest the relaxed nature of the scene, which is enhanced by the boats bobbing on the surface of the water. He suggests a warmth and fondness when painting this beach scene, which is particularly evident in the figures of the children in the foreground. Lowry's own childhood was touched with memories of the sea: he went on family holidays to Rhyl in North Wales and Lytham St Anne's on the Lancashire coast, and recalled that 'I used to draw little ships when I was eight' (see M. Howard, Lowry: A Visionary Artist, Salford, 2000, p. 226).
The viewpoint at which Lowry regards the scene is typical of his paintings: he places the viewer at a high perspective, looking down upon the scene. The figures in the foreground of the picture plane are standing facing out to see, paddling on the edge of the beach. By facing the sea, Lowry has them facing the viewer, as on a stage. The figures in the foreground of Beaches and Promenade share the same fascination with the open expanse of the sea as Lowry does. Michael Howard writes, 'The view of the edge of the land, out to sea, became an obsessive motif for Lowry, who also spent endless hours occupied in the same contemplative action' (op. cit.. p. 234).
Although the figures stand in groups on the beach, they are also alone. Those in the foreground take on a particular individuality, and the principal figure on the edge of the water, with dark hair and a dark costume, is centred directly beneath the façade of the pink house. There is a vulnerability and loneliness about this figure that characterises Lowry's work and which is reflected in his view of the sea: 'It's all there. It's all in the sea. The battle of life is there. And fate. And the inevitability of it all' (see J. Spalding, exhibition catalogue, Lowry, Middlesbrough, Cleveland Art Gallery, 1987, p. 17).