Iconic painting raises half a million pounds

'A Market Place, Berwick-upon-Tweed' painted by Laurence Stephen Lowry in 1935

'A Market Place, Berwick-upon-Tweed' painted by Laurence Stephen Lowry in 1935

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An iconic painting featuring Berwick’s high street and town hall has sold at auction for over half a million pounds.

‘A Market Place, Berwick-upon-Tweed’ was one of 13 L S Lowry paintings sold by London auction house Sotheby’s on March 25.

Painted in 1935 by the north west artist famed for his distinctive style and ‘stick men’, the oil on panel featuring Marygate realised £578,500.

It is just one of over 30 drawings and paintings of the area created by Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887-1976) during holidays in Berwick - a feat celebrated by The Berwick Lowry Trail.

The renowned painter found the buildings, landscapes and people an inspiration, and visited the area many times from the mid 1930s until the summer before he died.

‘A Market Place’ was one of 15 Lowry’s up for sale last Tuesday, with the collection raising a total price of more than £15m.

The oil paintings belonged to Cambridgeshire businessman Tony Thompson, who died last year.

A painting of Piccadilly Circus in London, for which Mr Thompson paid £5.6m in 2011, was the biggest draw of the night - selling for £5.1m.

Mr Thompson was born near Cambridge in 1945. He started his recycling business when he was 14 and went on to become a millionaire.

He began collecting paintings by Lowry in his late thirties, when he made his first purchase at auction.

The auction house said Mr Thompson had become the first person to bid more than £500,000 for a Lowry painting, when he bought the smaller of two pictures of Piccadilly Circus in 1998.

He secured the larger version in 2011, when he broke the record for a Lowry.

Frances Christie, Sotheby’s head of modern and post-war British art department, said Mr Thompson was a collector who “truly understood” Lowry’s vision.

“He had a real instinct to hone in on the very best examples of the artist’s work,” she said. “When it came to Lowry, he knew everything.”

•Lowry’s connection with Berwick is due to be celebrated at The Granary Gallery this summer, with a new exhibition called ‘L.S Lowry in Berwick & Northumberland’ which will run from June to September.

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