Life-long friend of Lowry to sell unseen collection

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The Independent Online

When Lawrence Ives heard his neighbour dabbled in oil painting but was frankly "not up to much" he decided to pop round to see for himself. The collection of 17 Lowry paintings he bought is expected to fetch more than £200,000 at auction next month.

When Lawrence Ives heard his neighbour dabbled in oil painting but was frankly "not up to much" he decided to pop round to see for himself. The collection of 17 Lowry paintings he bought is expected to fetch more than £200,000 at auction next month.

Mr Ives' visit in 1959 to the unprepossessing little house in Mottram-in-Longendale, Cheshire, began a friendship between the child psychologist and the artist that lasted until Lowry's death in 1976.

The paintings and drawings, never on public display, will be sold at Christie's on 24 November. A week later, Lowry's largest work to be sold at auction, of a Welsh colliery, is expected to fetch £1.2m. Six Bells, Abertillery, The Rhondda Valley, measuring 45in by 60in, was painted in 1962. The pit, then in its prime, was the last in the village to close, in 1988.

But it is Mr Ives' collection that is the highlight of the sale. Mr Ives, now in his 80s and living in a home, went to visit Lowry after a neighbour in Mottram told him of a "chap in the village who is a right take-on who does a bit of drawing and painting but they are not up to much. He passes under the name of Lowry."

A "take-on" was a local way of describing someone who pretended to do something he could not, but Mr Ives' wife, Daphne, went to see Lowry that evening. She returned long after midnight, calling him as an "incredible, fascinating and lovely man".

The next day, Mr Ives visited and Lowry tried to give him a small oil, Group of People. When Mr Ives insisted on paying, they agreed on £33/6s. It is expected to fetch up to £30,000.

The Ives collection is a unique private record of Lowry's evolution from Sunday painter to one of the most respected artists of the 20th century. His first one-man exhibition was in 1939 but he did not become widely known until the early 1960s. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1962 but remained unconcerned by his growing international fame and commercial success.

He lived in the same small house in Mottram from 1948 until his death.

Other paintings included in the sale are A Court, Manchester (1964) estimated at £100,000; Girl with Red Scarf and Black Trousers (1967), expected to fetch £30,000 and View from the Window of the Royal Technical College, Salford (1924) which was given to the Iveses as a present in 1994 and is estimated to be worth £12,000 to £18,000.

Rachel Hidderley, the head of Christie's 20th-century British art sales, said the paintings were among the most important private collections of works by Lowry to be seen at auction. His 1953 painting, Going to the Match, was bought by the Professional Footballers' Association for £1.9m, a Lowry record price.

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