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L.S. Lowry RA 1887-1976

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L.S. Lowry - Mill Scene

Mill Scene, 1964

Oil on canvas
16 x 20 ins (40.64 x 50.80 cms)

Price on application


The Artist
Monty Bloom
The Hamet Gallery, London
Malcolm Kingston Esq. acquired from above 15/8/72
Private Collection London (acquired c. 1988)
Crane Kalman Gallery (acquired from the above 1997)
Private Collection

Mill Scene, 1964 comes from the collection of Welsh businessman Monty Bloom. Bloom became Lowry's friend and patron and he put together a fantastic collection of Lowry's paintings and drawings, quite mixed, but heavily focused on Lowry's figure works.

Being a businessman who had made his money building up bankrupt businesses and selling them as going concerns, Monty Bloom found the urge to acquire something as a compulsion. By the 1960s Monty Bloom owned 100 Lowry works and he continued to buy them to the point where his wife forbade any more pictures entering the house and he had to keep them in the boot of his car.

By the 1970s he had by far the largest collection anywhere and his collection was worth more than £250,000. In 1972 83 of his Lowry paintings and drawings were offered for sale at the Hamet Gallery in Cork Street, London. Mill Scene, 1964 was featured in the catalogue for this important exhibition and is illustrated in the catalogue as No 42.

Exhibition History

Hamet Gallery, London, L.S. Lowry, 1972, illustrated full page in the exhibition catalogue. (copy provided with the painting)

General Notes

"I saw the industrial scene and I was affected by it. I tried to paint it all the time. I tried to paint the industrial scene as best I could. It wasn't easy." L.S. Lowry

In this classic Lowry composition, painted in 1964, he has captured the energy of the mass of factory workers to perfection. Lowry sketched assiduously and certainly knew his surroundings and the characters who filled the landscapes but he was honest in his response to his preferred method of composition: prefer to paint from my mind's eye. Mills Scene is such a painting; the result of a carefully crafted composition, the result of decades of observation but, nonetheless, a composition in his mind's eye.

It is perhaps a sign of the confidence that Lowry must have developed in the later part of his career that he was able to pare everything down to the core elements and remove the distracting, more static details even though they had become exactly the details he had become known for. These have been removed in a conscious move by the artist to reduce the composition to its core elements; movement and rhythm but, principally, rhythm. Lowry once said, 'I am interested in the flow of people, the rhythm rather than the individual; I am the individualLowry possessed an almost magical skill in portraying figures with just a tender dab of his brush. Perhaps even more remarkable is the layering and positioning of multiple figures, placed with an apparently haphazard fashion that belies the artist's chess-player's mind, able to set the scene twenty moves in advance. uses the same techniques of creating individuality in his buildings as he does with his figures. The seemingly naïve representation of the uniform lines of factories, chimneys and houses, hide a carefully considered assemblage of features which are the result of decades of close observation. Although the factories dominate the terraced houses below, these smaller buildings proudly stand their ground in the foreground of this painting.

Lowry knew that his paintings required time to mellow and for the white to age. 'Give it time to go down. Give it time to yellow-to darken-to discolour-and then you will see what I mean - and what it is that I want to show you' In Mill Scene, the white ground which Lowry used to such effect has mellowed to just the right hue - a yellowed white which captures the smog-filled environment to perfection. Using his very limited palette, Lowry's bold use of reds, carefully placed throughout the scene, creates a balanced image. It is seen in the coats worn by a few of the workers, on the doors of their houses and on the walls that flank the composition. The result is a painting that dances with movement. It is a superlative example of a Lowry Industrial composition and paintings of this quality rarely come on to the market.


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