The North Sea by Lowry

The North Sea by LS Lowry – £840,000 at Tennants.

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Including 22% buyer’s premium it made £1.07m at the Leyburn auction house.

The painting was last seen on public view in an exhibition in 1967 (the year after it was painted).

The majority of Lowry’s seascapes depict the North West coast such as Lytham and Rhyl where he painted seafronts bustling with holiday makers. However, from the early 1940s he began to paint pure seascapes, with nothing but sea and sky.

Lowry wrote: “I started to paint the sea, nothing but the sea. But a sea with no shore and nobody sailing on it…. Look at my seascapes, they don’t really exist you know, they’re just an expression of my own loneliness.”

The 1966 painting at Leyburn, titled The North Sea, was inspired by his visits to the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland where he always stayed in the same room, and which looked straight out at the North Sea.

Love of the sea

The picture came from the collection of a lady in the north-west of England who had a special affinity with the sea sparked by childhood holidays on the Cumbrian coast. According to Tennants she would meet Lowry in Morecambe, and later recounted his delight in the simple pleasures of eating ice cream and his visible enjoyment of the seaside, and the pair bonded over their shared love of the sea.

It was offered at Tennants’ Modern and Contemporary Art Sale on October 15 and sold to an anonymous European buyer. The price paid is the highest total for a picture at the auction house and the second highest price for any lot ever sold at the saleroom.

Two other more ‘typical’ Lowry scenes will be offered this autumn.

Tomorrow (October 19) at Christie’s evening sale of Modern British & Irish art Lowry’s Going to the Match is estimated at £5m-8m.

Lowry picture

Going to the Match by LS Lowry – estimated at £5m-8m at Christie’s. Image: Christie’s Images 2022.

Then Bonhams' Modern British and Irish Art sale in London will include Street Scene on November 22. The painting, which has been in the same family for almost 50 years, is estimated at £800,000-£1.2m.

Street Scene by Lowry

Street Scene by LS Lowry – estimated at £800,000-£1.2m at Bonhams.


The current auction record for Lowry is The Football Match from 1949 which sold for £5m at Christie's in 2011.