Group of People with the Artist signed and dated 'L. S. Lowry 1961' (lower left) oil on board 37.5 x 32 cm. (14 3/4 x 12 1/2 in.)
PROVENANCE: With Alwin Gallery, London Mr. A. D. Fisher Sale; Christie's, London, 23 November 2001, lot 99
EXHIBITED: Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, L. S. Lowry, April - June 1973, cat.no.70, where lent by Mr. A. D. Fisher
The present painting was executed in the same year as Lowry staged his seventh one-man show in London. By this time (1961) Lowry's artistic reputation was already formidable with many of his regular collectors attempting to buy his works prior to the official opening. He had begun to move away from his ambitious and complex industrial landscapes and focus more on people, quite often individuals, but also groups interacting with one another.
The eight figures in Group of People with the Artist, including men, women and children are collected together in a huddle on a street. Only the subtlest of references indicate the setting; a short diagonal line running through the signature marks the pavement, another line, this time vertical separating two of the figures upper right, is probably a street lamp and the broad black line on the left periphery the edge of a building. However, one figure is clearly isolated and distant from the group, and that is the artist himself, depicted in profile on the far left of the composition. He is the only figure not physically connected on the picture plane to any of the other people. It is almost as if he has been rejected by the assemblage and is staring into a lonely abyss. This is no coincidence as it is surely symbolic of Lowry's state of mind and how viewed himself within society.
Interestingly, Lowry considered these years to be his most productive and fruitful and commented,'I feel more strongly about these people than ever I did about the industrial scene', he said. 'There but for the grace of God go I...I think I am saying more, going deeper into life than I did.' (quoted in Shelley Rohde, L.S. Lowry, a biography, Lowry Press, Salford, p.360).