A painting by LS Lowry loved by football fans and art enthusiasts was purchased by the Lowry Arts Center in Salford, saving it from disappearing in a private collection.
The art center paid £ 7.8 million including taxes for Going to the Match, painted in 1953, at an auction on Wednesday night. The purchase was made possible thanks to a gift from the Law Family charitable foundation, created by hedge fund manager and conservative party donor Andrew Law and his wife Zoë. The painting is estimated to have reached 5-8 million pounds.
Julie Fawcett, CEO of The Lowry, said: “We strongly believe that this iconic work of art must remain visible to the public, so that it can continue to be seen by the widest possible audience, for free.
“Tonight, thanks to an incredibly generous gift from the Law Family Charitable Foundation, we are delighted to have purchased Going to the Match 1953 for LS Lowry’s city collection of works. We can’t wait to take him home to Salford, where he can continue to delight and attract visitors to the Andrew and Zoë Law galleries at Lowry. “
Andrew Law said: “This painting by LS Lowry belongs to Salford in public, close to his birthplace, where he was educated and where he lived. The place matters. LS Lowry’s portrayal of people attending a football match is just one of his many amazing kinds of work, but it is arguably his most iconic of him.
The painting was on public display at the Lowry Arts Center for 22 years, after being bought in 1999 by the Professional Footballers ‘Association (PFA), the current and former players’ union, for £ 1.9 million.
At the time, Gordon Taylor, then CEO of the PFA, said it was “simply the best football painting ever made”.
The PFA decided this year to sell the painting after its charity arm became a separate body, the Players Foundation, as part of a reorganization prompted by a warning from the Charity Commission.
The offer for the painting was opened at £ 5 million at Christie’s sale of British and Irish modern art. He was “selling for a good cause,” the auctioneer told bidders in person and over the phone. The Players Foundation helps current and former players with issues such as education, pensions, health and legal issues.
Last month, Paul Dennett, Mayor of Salford, and Fawcett jointly appealed for the painting to remain in the public domain.
After the auction, Dennett said, “We emphatically believed that Going to the Match should remain visible to the public, free to enter where everyone can see it. I am delighted that our campaign to save this pivotal and important painting has brought the Lowry to success. to secure it tonight, for the city of Salford in perpetuity for generations to come, for the residents and visitors of our great city. “
Lowry, famous for his club-like figures and industrial scenes in northwest England in the mid-20th century, produced a series of football paintings, of which Going to the Match is the best known.
The stadium in the painting was Burnden Park, the former home of Bolton Wanderers, near Lowry’s home in Pendlebury. It was demolished in 1999 and the site is now a business park.
In addition to the crowds thronging the turnstiles, the painting shows crowded terraces inside the stadium, in the background row houses and surrounding factories.
“Going to the game is about the thrill, the excitement, the gathering of the crowd, the group experience,” said Nicholas Orchard, Christie’s head of British and Irish modern art, before the sale.
“Lowry was a great observer of people, particularly within the industrial landscape, and these football matches really captured the essence of what Lowry was trying to achieve in his paintings.”