What to look for when buying a work on paper

Analysing L.S. Lowry’s Village on a Hill, 1966

Lowry was clearly influenced by his industrial surroundings, despite asserting that the scenes he created were imaginary. “I start on an empty canvas and prefer to paint from my mind’s eye,” he said in a 1957 BBC documentary, adding, “It’s only a picture, it’s all make-believe, it’s not reality.”

In spite of this, his pictures resonated with the British public and the demand for Lowry’s artwork is now stronger than ever.
 
Here are a few factors you should consider when buying a work on paper:
 
Subject:
L.S Lowry’s 1966 lithograph Village on a Hill depicts a long, wide street leading up to a small village. The scene is captured from an elevated, possibly bird’s eye view and therefore likely to be a work from the artist’s “mind’s eye”. The thoroughfare is populated with the artist’s iconic stick figures and features industrial imagery, making this piece desirable to an international market.
 
Limited Edition:
The print is hand-signed in pencil and dated in orange felt pen. It is a proof aside from the small edition of 75, contributing to the piece’s rarity and value.
 
Condition:
Condition is a key consideration when looking to invest in Lowry works. Lithographs produced in the 1960-70s often have ‘mount burn’ due to the quality of the mount board used when framing at the time. This results in dark stains around the edges of the image and can affect value. This work is in excellent condition. It has been framed in house using conservation techniques and materials such as an acid-free mountboard and 99% anti-UV glass to ensure it remains in exceptional condition for years to come.
 
Desirability:
This is one of Lowry's two earliest and largest works in lithography. A Village on a Hill was drawn by Lowry in the same year as A Street full of People. Like its companion piece, it is drawn on a larger format sheet than any of the subsequent lithographs by Lowry. This piece rapidly sold-out at the time of its issue in 1966 and is now rarely seen on the market.
 
Provenance:
Remarkably, this personal proof was sourced from the private collection of Lowry and the late Carol Ann Lowry, a girl that struck up a friendship with Lowry in 1957 after writing and asking for his advice on becoming an artist. The friendship lasted for the rest of Lowry’s life and when he died, he bequeathed his entire estate and collection to her.
 
Summary:
This work meets all the key criteria for a fabulous investment: the subject is iconic and desirable; the condition is exemplary; the size is unique for Lowry and the provenance is simply remarkable.
 
Written by Gracie McCabe (Digital Associate at Hidden London)

 

April 20, 2022