Having not been seen in public for almost 20 years, The Football Match, 1949, by Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976), has sold for £5.6 million ($9.1 million). An exceptionally rare depiction of one of Britain’s most popular sports, football (soccer), by one of the country’s most iconic British artists, was bought at 20th Century British & Irish Art, an auction at Christie’s in London (26 May), setting a new world record for the artist.
Christie’s described the painting as a modern masterpiece. Lowry, who died in 1976 at the age of 88, was known for his simple depictions of working-class life. He painted largely in his spare time while working for the Pall Mall Property Company in Manchester, but still achieved recognition during his life.
Reflecting the international appeal of Lowry, The Football Match, which was painted in 1949 at the high point of the artist’s career, toured to London, America and Paris before entering a private collection in 1950, where it remained for over 40 years. This large format canvas, measuring 28 x 36 inches, is in excellent original condition.
Philip Harley of Christie’s described the painting as the ultimate work for passionate connoisseurs of Lowry’s work and of football. The large format, panoramic, birds-eye composite view of Lowry’s own landscape perfectly captures the spirit and drama of a town gripped by the excitement of the Saturday football match, he said.
Experts had predicted it would go for between £3.5 million and £4.5 million. Its final price of £5,641,250 ($9,104,978) includes the buyer’s premium. The sale outstrips the previous highest price for a Lowry, also sold by Christie’s, when Good Friday, Daisy Nook fetched £3.8 million in 2007.