Paintings and prints of L. S. Lowry’s depictions of football are among his most popular works and are admired not only by football fans but also by Lowry collectors. Here are ten quick facts about some of his most well-known works related to football, including the record-breaking works The Football Match and Going to the Match.
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Lowry was a lifelong supporter of Manchester City Football Club, but he was also an artist who created works inspired by other teams.
Because the artist’s home in Pendlebury was so close to the opposing team’s old stadium in Burnden Park, he had a soft spot in his heart for Bolton Wanderers Football Club, even though he supported Manchester United.
One of Lowry’s earliest football paintings depicts a match between Manchester City and Sheffield United.
It was painted by Lowry in 1938, and it is one of the few examples of his work that depicts a real event rather than an imagined composite of a number of different places or events. It is believed that this scene depicts a match between the two clubs that took place on October 22, 1938 in the Second Division, which Man City won.
In June of 2008, the painting was put up for auction at Christie’s, but it did not receive a bid that was sufficiently high. However, within an hour of the conclusion of the auction, a private buyer approached the auction house to make the purchase, and the work was then taken home.
The ordinary activities of Mancunians were beautifully captured by Lowry in his football paintings.
Lowry’s football pictures are just as much of a record of day-to-day life in Greater Manchester as his industrial landscape paintings are. These pictures range from crowds gathering for a big match to casual kickabouts between local children, such as the scene depicted in Saturday Afternoon, 1941.
Some of his paintings of football are now also serving as documents of long-gone locations. For instance, the old Burnden Park stadium, where Bolton Wanderers used to play, is documented in Going To The Match. 1999 marked the year that the land was leveled, which was two years after the football club had relocated to their new grounds.
The Football Match, which was created in 1949, is the Lowry piece that has sold for the most money at auction.
The painting was originally bought for just £250 in 1951. It was initially sold at Sotheby’s in 1992 for the price of 132,000 pounds. After being kept secret for close to twenty years in the same private collection, The Football Match was finally put up for auction in May 2011 at Christie’s in London, where it fetched a record-breaking price of £5.6 million. Later, in October 2022, Going to the Match (1953) broke its own record by selling at auction for a total of £ 7,846,500 (including fees). This was accomplished through Christie’s. The scene is depicted in Lowry’s signature birds-eye view panoramic, which shows not only the football game but also smoking chimneys, which is perhaps the other most iconic motif that the artist has used in his work.
It is extremely difficult to make out the football in Lowry’s paintings of football players.
Lowry rarely depicted the action of a football match, despite the fact that he was a huge fan of “the beautiful game.” The majority of his football paintings depict fans making their way to the venue. The players in some of the others appear to be no larger than a few brushstrokes when viewed from an aerial perspective of the field. Instead of focusing on the game’s actual play and players, most of Lowry’s paintings of football depict the excitement and atmosphere that fans feel before, during, and after matches.
At times, Lowry would draw pictures while attending football games.
It was common knowledge that Lowry would scribble on whatever he could find in his pocket, whether it was a piece of scrap paper, a note card, or even the back of one of his bank statements. He created a pencil drawing of a football match that was viewed from behind the goal net. This drawing was later transformed into a limited edition lithograph that was given the title A Football Match. In addition, Lowry created a sketch of people walking to see a Bolton Wanderers match at Burden Park. He later transformed this sketch into Going To The Match, 1953, which is now recognized as one of Lowry’s most well-known paintings of football players.
In 1953, Going to the Match was crowned champion of the inaugural Football And Fine Arts competition.
As part of the festivities commemorating the Football Association’s 90th anniversary, an exhibition was put together by the Football Association and the Arts Council. The judges came from the Tate, National Galleries, the Arts Council, and the Slade School of Art, and there were over 1,700 people who entered the competition.
Because there were actually four winners in the Painting category, Lowry was awarded £250 for his painting Going to the Match rather than the grand prize of $1,000. Mid-Week Practice at Stamford Bridge, which was written by Lawrence Toynbee, was another piece that won.
A painting of a football game by Lowry was referred to as “our prized possession” by the Professional Footballers’ Association.
When the PFA won the bid for Going To The Match at Christie’s in 1999, it established a new record for the highest price paid at auction for a Lowry painting up to that point. Even though the painting sold for more than four times its estimate, it was still a steal when compared to the prices paid for Premier League players (in 2020, Chelsea Football Club purchased midfielder Kai Havertz for €81 million). The painting sold for £1.9 million. Gordon Taylor, the Chief Executive of the PFA, stated that the painting Going to the Match “will be our prized possession,” and he went on to say that the work “is quite simply the finest football painting ever.”
The print with the most sales is titled “Going to the Match” by Lowry.
Both fans of the sport of football and admirers of the visual arts flock to see the painting, making it one of the most popular works of art at The Lowry in Salford. Because of its notoriety, it is also Lowry’s print that is the most expensive and sought-after on the secondary market.
In 1972, Lowry published an edition of Going To The Match lithographs that was limited to 300 copies and signed by the artist. A new auction record for a Lowry print was established in February of 2020 when the print sold for a price of £25,000, which was the highest price ever paid for it. The price of a Going To The Match print in 2015 was £22,000, which was the previous record price.
Not only did Lowry paint football, but he also did other sports.
In addition, horse races and cricket matches served as sources of motivation for Lowry. The only depiction of a rugby match that is known to exist by him is titled “Coming From The Match,” and it depicts a crowd of fans leaving a Rochdale Hornets rugby match. When the rare piece was put up for sale in Christie’s online auction in July 2020, it fetched a price that was more than four times higher than the low estimate.