Wednesday, 17 July 2013

1964 - Steamer Off Promenade

Steamer Off Promenade 1964
Oil on Canvas 
30.5 x 40.6 cm
Sold [June 2007] for £144,000 [Christies, King Street, London]
Signed and Dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1964' (lower left)

with Lefevre Gallery, London, where purchased by the previous owner's mother in 1969. 

Exhibition catalogue, L.S. Lowry, London, Sunderland Art Gallery, 1966, p. 18, pl. 31. 

Sunderland, Arts Council, Sunderland Art Gallery, L.S. Lowry, August - September 1966, no. 104: this exhibition travelled to Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, September - October 1966; Bristol, City Art Gallery, October - November 1966; and London, Tate Gallery, November 1966 - January 1967.
London, Lefevre Gallery, L.S. Lowry, May 1967, no. 27. 

The present work simply titled Steamer off Promenade was probably painted in Sunderland. Lowry discovered Sunderland in 1960 during a chance visit, and the town was to become a second home for him. It provided a retreat from the pressures of city life and also gave him new inspiration. As he said, 'One day I was travelling south from Tyneside and I realised that this was what I had always been looking for' (Sunderland Echo, 7 March 1975).

Always staying in the same room at the Seaburn Hotel on the sea front he could look directly out over the North Sea and the shipping which passed by on its way to and from the Wear and Tyne. He became a familiar figure taking regular walks along the promenade and drew and painted many works of the views.

The format of the present work is one used frequently by Lowry; the picture can be divided into three horizontal planes, each almost complete in its own right. The close foreground delineated by the iron railings of the promenade is peopled by Lowry's favourite characters: as opposed to the people in his urban and city landscapes these people are holiday-makers, strolling with their children and dogs by the seaside. The middle-ground is dominated by the black hulk of a steamer, seemingly at anchor. To the left of the picture is a trademark half-boat. The top half of the picture plane is a sky study with high grey clouds. 
The present work was exhibited at the major retrospective exhibition held by the Arts Council at the Sunderland Gallery in 1966 and a very close drawing of the same subject Tanker entering the Tyne, dated 17 August 1965 (private collection) was exhibited in the exhibition, L.S. Lowry in the North East, Tyne and Wear Museum, July - Ocober 1989, no. 50.

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