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Oil on canvas
16 x 12 ins (40.64 x 30.48 cms)
Signed and Dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1963' (lower left), inscribed 'OLD HOUSE' (on the reverse), inscribed again 'OLD HOUSE' (on the canvas overlap)
Price on application
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 22 November 1994, lot 76, where purchased by the previous owners.
London, Lefevre Gallery, Paintings by L.S. Lowry, May - June 1967, no. 24. X8361
Rendered in Lowry's quintessential pared back palette, An Old House, Lytham deftly combines many of the artist's enduring motifs. The solitary house and the sea are both recurring images in the artist's work, becoming metaphors for the universal ideas regarding the insignificance of man.
In the present work, the imposing, derelict house occupies the centre of the composition, whilst the road wraps around it, winding its way behind. The road leads our eye to the horizon where we glimpse the yachts and sailing boats of Lytham St Anne's. Mere flecks of colour, Lowry skilfully hints at the presence of these boats with his archetypal application of specks of impasto.
Lowry spent many childhood holidays with his parents at Lytham St Anne's near Blackpool on the Fylde coast, and at Rhyl, on the North West coast, and had happy memories of these days. Lytham St Anne's and Rhyl had developed in the late nineteenth century specially to cater for industrial workers who could afford a temporary escape from their daily drudgery.
An Old House, Lytham personifies the artist's existential preoccupation. Throughout his life, the sea always held a particular fascination for Lowry, and he would use the sea as a metaphor in many of his compositions for the isolation of human existence. Here, the sea and sky blend together, engulfing the background of a composition empty of any human figure.
The title of the present work is indicative of the artist's interest in the rundown, dilapidated houses lining cramped, urban streets with secretive windows shielding dark rooms beyond. He commented, 'I'm attracted to decay, I suppose; in a way to ugliness too. I seem to have a strong leaning towards decaying houses in deteriorated areas. They are symbols of my mood. They are myself' (see S. Rohde, The Lowry Lexicon; an A-Z of L.S. Lowry, Salford, 2001).
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