Lowry sale reveals art of friendship

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The most significant group of Lowry paintings to come on the market for a decade, seen here with Jessica Thomas of Christie's, goes on sale at the auction house next month, writes Marianne Macdonald.

The 14 oils, watercolours and pastels formed the collection of Geoffrey Bennett, a Cumbrian bank manager turned clergyman who was a close friend. They include the evocative cityscapes that made Lowry's name, such as the 1943 Punch and Judy (£60,000 to £90,000). Other styles are apparent in the impressionistic Beach Scene of 1958 (£10,000 to £15,000) and Portrait of a Young Man 1955 (centre).

The painting which began the collection was The Organ Grinder (£25,000 to £30,000). Mr Bennett had admired, but could not afford, a similar painting at Manchester Academy. Lowry offered to paint him another, within his £5 price range.

When Lowry died in 1976, Mr Bennett conducted his funeral service. The clergyman died in 1991, bequeathing the paintings to the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle Cathedral and to retired clergy.

Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid