Caithness Picture by Lowry goes to auction

A picture of a Caithness town by Laurence Stephen Lowry is expected to fetch up to £800,000 at auction on Tuesday.Street Musicians features Lowry’s trademark matchstick figures and dogs but this time in Shore Street, Thurso.

Lowry's the Street Musician estimated at £600,000 to £800,000 goes up for auction on Tuesday. Picture: Sotherby's

Its estimate is £600,000 to £800,000. In November a telephone bidder paid £898,638 for another Caithness picture by Lowry. Steps at Wick was painted in 1936 and shows the Black Stairs in Wick’s Pulteneytown area.

Now Street Musicians, painted two years later, is being sold by Sotheby’s in London as part of a stand-alone evening sale of 15 paintings by one of Britain’s best-loved artists.

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The A.J. Thompson Collection, estimated to fetch in excess of £15 million, includes well-known masterpieces that have previously been exhibited in the Tate’s highly acclaimed retrospective in 2013, among many other museum shows. A.J. Thompson - who only collected artworks by Lowry and no other artists - bought his first painting by the artist at Sotheby’s in 1982.

Lowry, who grew up in Salford, was famous for his matchstick figure art and was a regular visitor to Scotland. He died in 1976 aged 88

A spokeswoman for Sotheby’s, said: “During the 1930s, Lowry travelled extensively around Britain and at some point in the middle of the decade, he reached Thurso, the most northerly town on the British mainland.

“In true characteristic style, however, it was not the panoramic vistas which grabbed Lowry’s attention.

“Instead he was drawn to the distinctive architecture of Shore Street, in the north east corner of the town, just one street behind the distinctive coastline.

“The castle like tower on the north side of the street dates from 1687 and was thought to be the Thurso turnpike where old stage coaches used to start. Its fairytale turret coupled with the irregularly sloping roofs would have instantly appealed to Lowry’s compositional arrangement.”

LS Lowry, who died in 1976, and was known for his simple depictions of working-class life, spent holidays in Scotland in the 1930s.

LS Lowry has the record for the person to refuse the most honours - including a knighthood - turning down five between 1955 and 1976.

These included an OBE in the 1955 Birthday Honours List and a CBE in the 1961 New Year’s List.

His life and work is celebrated in the 1978 Brian and Michael hit song Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs.

Another painting by LS Lowry that had not been seen in public for nearly 20 years was sold for £5.6m at auction three years ago.

The Football Match (1949) which depicts hundreds of the artist’s signature stick figures had been expected to fetch between £3.5m and £4.5m

Frances Christie, Sotheby’s head of Modern and Post-War British Art department added:”The recent major exhibition at Tate......helped to reposition the artist within a much wider artistic context, dispelling popular assumptions that he only depicted a very simplified view of England. In fact, he was a fantastically accomplished artist who turned his remarkable skills of observation and representation to creating some of the most complex and visually compelling images of modern life painted in the 20th Century. His work captured a fast-disappearing way of life in Britain, one that is more familiar in some of the world’s emerging economies today.”