Thursday - 23 October 2014

Regatta drawing sails to new high for Lowry work on paper

31 May 2013Written by Alex Capon

A pencil drawing by LS Lowry (1887-1976) set an auction record for a work on paper by the artist this week, selling for £175,000.

Offered at Bonhams sale of Modern British and Irish Art in London on May 29, Agecroft Regatta depicted a boat race in Salford - a more unusual subject for the artist whose favoured topic was gritty industrial scenes.

Exceeding its £70,000-100,000 estimate, it sold a UK private buyer.

The 10 x 14.5in (27 x 37cm) pencil sketch was signed and dated 1942, and showed the annual race between Agecroft Rowing Club and the Manchester University Boat Club which attracted large crowds of people to the banks.

The Agecroft boat club, which was built in 1935, can be seen in the upper left hand part of the drawing with its flag flying in the breeze.

While Lowry's oil painting of the scene is now privately owned, having sold at Sotheby's in November 1997 for £350,000, this drawing was one of only two known pencil sketches made by the artist of the event. The other, which was a highly similar composition and identically-sized, had also sold at Sotheby's as part of the Evill-Frost collection in June 2011 for £68,000.

The example at Bonhams, however, was more fully realised (especially the figures in the foreground) and came from a UK vendor who had purchased it from London dealer Richard Green in 2007.

The estimate was set at £70,000-100,000, possibly a reflection of the £100,000 fetched by Swinbury Station in the same rooms in November 2011 which was the previous auction high for a Lowry drawing.

On the day, Agecroft Regatta drew a number of interest parties but it was two determined bidders who took it well over the top estimate before it was finally knocked down at £175,000.

The buyer's premium was 25/20/12%.

A report of the sale will appear in a future issue of ATG's printed newspaper. Subscribe here.

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