For one week only: Sotheby’s loans rare LS Lowry classic to The Lowry, Salford

Frances Christie, head of Modern & Post-War British Art at Sotheby’s, talks us through a very special loan to The Lowry.


Frances Christie

Sotheby’s is delighted to bring to The Lowry the artist’s exceptional painting Station Approach, Manchester (1960) by L.S. Lowry which will lead our Modern & Post War British Art Evening Auction on Tuesday, 10 June 2014.

Ranked among the most significant works created throughout the artist’s career, this painting of one of Manchester’s historic landmarks, the London and North Western Railway Exchange Station, epitomises everything that Lowry has become known and loved for.

The subject was highly significant for the artist – he chose to produce a smaller version of this painting in 1962 to present to the Royal Academy of Arts, London, on being made a Royal Academician.

The painting was first exhibited in the artist’s sell-out 1961 exhibition at Lefevre Gallery, London and has not been seen in public for a generation.

It is one of the most exciting Lowry works to emerge onto the market in recent years. Lowry was a master at portraying the energy and vitality of everyday life and in Station Approach, Manchester he captures the hustle and bustle of the crowds heading home after a hard day’s work – it is a superb example of Lowry at his very best.

The crowds swell around the large sculpture of Oliver Cromwell, presented to the city in 1875, down Victoria Street, across the River Irwell and on to the station building beyond. The painting’s position within the history of the development of England’s industrial heartland is paramount, and this year marks the 130th anniversary of the Exchange station, which when built had the longest platform in the UK.

Built in 1884 and closed in 1969, the Victorian front of Manchester Exchange was actually already torn down by the time Lowry painted this work. Station Approach, Manchester captures the view up Victoria Street and on to the Victorian façade beyond, editing it only very slightly with the addition of the viaduct and the line of buildings to the left-hand side of the composition, which he most probably drew from the nearby Greengate district.

I hope you will have time to come and view this classic L.S. Lowry painting for yourself during its time with The Lowry, Salford this week.

Frances Christie, Head of Modern & Post-War British Art, Sotheby’s