Following the announcement in August of a newly-discovered 1938 fairground scene by Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887-1976) scheduled to appear at Sotheby’s on December 13, it has emerged that the scene depicted is not, in fact, Beswick Fair, near Manchester, as had been mooted.
Instead it is a rare, and historically important, rendition of
England's biggest amusement park - Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
This new information emerged after David Graham, a Blackpool-based
journalist, came across stories of the rediscovered work in the
The accompanying image looked familiar: "I was taken quite by
surprise when I saw it. A double-take and I realised that, yes,
this was something very familiar: the same Blackpool pleasure beach
that I drive past every day.
"Much as I didn't want to disappoint the residents of Beswick
[near Manchester, where Sotheby's believed the scene was set],
there was no way round it - this was Blackpool."
Mr Graham was quick to recognise the architectural outlines of
fairground rides that have not changed in some three quarters of a
century: the distinctive Noah's Ark attraction (one of only two
left in the world); the tall, elegant Art Deco tower designed by
Joseph Emberton at the start of the Grand National Ride, and Sir
Hiram Maxim's Flying Machine - the world's oldest flying
After careful consultation with representatives at the Blackpool
Pleasure Beach, Mr Graham contacted Sotheby's with the news.
James Rawlin, head of Sotheby's 20th-century British art
department, who clearly does not go to Blackpool for his holidays,
described the positive identification of the scene as "a
phenomenally important development".
"We think of Lowry as someone who captures the social history of
his time and place, but this painting is also a vividly accurate
historical document. Works of such topographical accuracy are
extremely rare in Lowry's oeuvre, as indeed are depictions of
Blackpool: so far we've been unable to trace any important
depictions of the city."
A Fairground has remained in the same private hands since it was
purchased around 1950. It is expected to fetch up to £1m.
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