Lowry’s three paintings of York are to be shown together for the first time

A detail from Lowry's painting Wilson’s Terrace – see below for the full picture
13 Jul 2015 @ 7.39 pm
| News

Most famously he painted “matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs”.

But LS Lowry also painted York three times – and the trio of pictures are to be shown together for the first time next month.

Together with a preliminary sketch, the three paintings will be exhibited at York Art Gallery when it reopens after its £8 million redevlopment on August 1.

The gallery commissioned Laurence Stephen Lowry to paint a city scene for its annual Evelyn Award in 1952, paying £50.

He painted two scenes – and the gallery chose his picture of Clifford’s Tower.

The other was A View of York (from Tang Hall Bridge). Lowry also painted Wilson’s Terrace, selling these two to private collectors.

Clifford’s Tower

The one the gallery chose to keep… Clifford's Tower by LS Lowry
The one the gallery chose to keep… Clifford’s Tower by LS Lowry. Paintings reproduced with permission from the Lowry Estate

Lorna Frost, curatorial assistant at York Museums Trust, said Lowry was already a well-known artist when he came to York in 1952.

She said:

Leading figures in York suggested to Lowry scenes which would ‘blend gothic and industry’ but he instead chose to depict the iconic Clifford’s Tower.

This has become one of the gallery’s most famous and well-loved works and if you look closely you can pick out York’s industrial buildings in the background of the ancient stone tower.

His sketch of the tower, also being shown, now belongs to the Lowry estate.

A View of York (from Tang Hall Bridge)

A View of York (from Tang Hall Bridge). Reproduced with permission from the Lowry Estate
A View of York (from Tang Hall Bridge)

Curator of the York gallery Hans Hess proposed Lowry should paint in watercolour because of the low fee, but Lowry was “diffident” to the medium.

He arrived in York in October 1952 and had finished the works by February 1953.

After the gallery chose his Clifford’s Tower painting, he sold the other, A View of York (from Tang Hall Bridge) to a private collector for £85.

The work shows the wide open spaces that existed at the city’s outskirts, as well as the cooling towers, chimneys and railway, some of which no longer remain.

Wilson’s Terrace

Wilson's Terrace, now demolished
Wilson’s Terrace, now demolished

This was commissioned by a York solicitor who had Lowry’s company for a weekend and took the artist on a tour of the city.

He bought the work for £75 and said he had wished he had been able to buy A View of York (From Tang Hall Bridge) as well.

Wilson’s Terrace has long since been demolished.

‘Drastically changed’

Lorna Frost said they were delighted the private collectors had allowed the two paintings to be shown alongside Clifford’s Tower.

Both of the oil paintings show scenes of the city which have since drastically changed.

They remain true to Lowry’s iconic style and will be a highlight for visitors coming to see the newly reopened gallery this summer.

The works will be on show until March 2016.