The Auction, which sold as part of Sotheby’s Modern British Art auction in London on November 23, was a large-scale work from 1958.
Lowry was very familiar with the auction concept by that point in his career. Though he did not sell a single work at his first exhibition in Manchester in 1921, he found success in later years with his pictures selling at auction for up to £7000 during his lifetime.
Once successful he began buying art at auction too including a version of Rossetti’s Proserpine, which he bought in 1964 for 5000 guineas.
The vendor of The Auction had bought it more than two decades ago and it was previously exhibited at Lowry’s retrospective at the Royal Academy in 1976.
Lowry (1887-1976) only ever painted a small handful of interior scenes but expressed an interest in art and antiques in his paintings as early as the 1920s, with a drawing titled Selling Up the Old Antiques Shop. Another painting, Jackson’s Auction and Saleroom from 1952, depicts the exterior of the auction house in Manchester, with furniture amassed outside.