‘Going to the Match’ by LS Lowry

‘Going to the Match’ by LS Lowry – estimated at £5m-8m at Christie’s.

Image: Christie’s Images Ltd 2022

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Back in 1999, the painting from 1953 sold at Sotheby’s for £1.75m, becoming the first work by the artist to fetch over £1m and setting a record for a Modern British picture at auction at the time.

Back then, the successful bidder was the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

Now it will appear at Christie’s evening sale of Modern British & Irish art on October 19 with a hefty looking estimate of £5m-8m. The current auction record for Lowry is The Football Match from 1949 which sold for £5m at Christie's in 2011.

Having previously been on long-term loan to The Lowry in Salford, Manchester, Going to the Match will be unveiled in Christie’s Dubai office tomorrow before being exhibited in London from October 15-19, ahead of its auction.

“Inevitable decision”

Christie’s said it is being sold on behalf of The Players Foundation, a charity dedicated to footballers’ welfare. It was formerly known as the Professional Footballers' Association Charity but is no longer under the umbrella of the PFA.

Christie’s said that proceeds from the sale “will be used to allow the organisation to continue its charitable work in, among other things, assisting with those who have dementia and relieving poverty among current or former professional players”.

A spokesperson for The Players Foundation said: “Going to the Match has been on display for the last 22 years and we are very proud that we have been able to make sure the British public have had the opportunity to enjoy such a wonderful piece of footballing memorabilia and art.

“Players Foundation no longer has any income guaranteed, so we have had to completely reposition the charity. The trustees recognise the current financial crisis means we need all the income we can obtain, and all our assets have to function for us to ensure our on-going work. We want to continue to assist people with dementia and provide benevolent grants to those in real financial need, among other things.  This has led us to the inevitable decision that the Lowry has to be sold in the interests of our beneficiaries.”

Sporting group

The work itself is the largest example from a group of paintings depicting sporting scenes and venues that Lowry made. It shows a vast, urban scene taken over by the collective movement of a large crowd, with figures seemingly arriving from all directions towards a football stadium.

Going to the Match was painted for an exhibition in 1953, sponsored by The Football Association, where Lowry won first prize.