L.S. Lowry masterpiece could raise millions for British charity in October

L.S. Lowry’s 1952 masterpiece ‘Going to the Match’ will be auctioned on October 19 in London, estimated at $5.7 million-$9.2 million. Image courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022

L.S. Lowry’s 1952 masterpiece ‘Going to the Match’ will be auctioned on October 19 in London, estimated at $5.7 million-$9.2 million. Image courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022

LONDON – Christie’s will offer L.S. Lowry’s iconic 1953 painting Going to the Match as the leading highlight of the Modern British & Irish Art Evening Sale on October 19. The work, which is estimated at £5 million-£8 million ($5.7 million-$9.2 million), is being offered by the Players Foundation (registered in England and Wales with charity number 1150458), which will use proceeds from the sale to continue its charitable work in assisting those with dementia and relieving poverty among current or former professional players. The foundation acquired the painting in 1999.

Going to the Match is a poignant combination of two of the most enduring subjects of Lowry’s oeuvre: the post-industrial landscape of Northern England and the central role that football and other sporting events played there. It is the largest example from a group of paintings that Lowry (British, 1887-1976) made dedicated to the theme of sport in the industrial cities of northern England, which depict the working man at play.

Going to the Match also captures the universal appeal and allure of the beautiful game of football itself. The work is a picture of a vast, urban scene taken over by the collective movement of a large crowd congregating, seemingly arriving from all directions of the city upon a single point: the structure of a football stadium. The pitch, the site of the football match itself and the event responsible for drawing such a crowd, remains unseen. Such absence captures the tension and anticipation of the main event, and is typical of Lowry’s work.

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 recognize 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, amongst other things. This has led us to the inevitable decision that the Lowry has to be sold in the interests of our beneficiaries.”

Christie’s Head of Modern British & Irish Art Nick Orchard said: “Lowry mastered a distance in his art that offered him the opportunity to present his viewers with an entire scene unfolding before them, as Pieter Breugel had done before him. He used this displacement to great effect, often allowing people within the crowd to articulate the event itself. There is no greater example of this than Going to the Match and Christie’s is honored to work with the Players Foundation to present the painting at auction as the focal point of the Modern British & Irish Art Evening Sale.”

Lowry believed that crowds of people, with their individual characteristics, created unique patterns. These rhythms, he felt, revealed much about that person and their purpose for being present within the scene. This lifelong pursuit to capture what he described as the “battle of life” continues to enthrall audiences internationally. 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 from September 15 to 24 before being exhibited in London from October 15 to 19, ahead of its auction.