On a typed label attached to the stretcher of The Cricket Match, Lowry stated 'I started this picture of a Cricket match in Lancashire as a canvas measuring 30 x 25 in. Unfortunately, I had great difficulty in making the lower part of the crowd around the sight board, part of the total entity. After trying in vain to solve this problem, I decided to turn it into two seperate [sic] pictures. This picture is the actual playing scene measuring 30 x 15 in. and is mounted on board and a mahogany frame [sic]'. On a typed label attached to the second picture Lowry stated 'This picture of a Crowd round a cricket sight board is the lower portion of a larger canvas measuring originally 30 x 25 in. Owing to the difficulty of reconciling the two portions I decided to make two seperate [sic] pictures. This is the smaller portion, mounted on board and mahogany and I consider it one of my most successfull [sic] crowd scenes.'
This pair of paintings, owned by a collector and friend of Lowry, is of particular interest. More closely related than having aspects of cricket as their subject, they were at one time a single entity.
The Cricket Match takes place surrounded by industrial imagery. Although Lowry has titled it as a real game in a real place, its buildings are taken from rich industrial iconography accumulated over a lifetime. The location thus becomes a generic one, unidentifiable.
The players move in a stylized manner, their activity slow and measured, as if in a ballet chorus. The figures in the crowd at the lower left of the painting are those that remain from the original work; if the two paintings are placed one beneath the other, one can see where the canvas was joined and the disparity between them becomes obvious.
Let us consider this disparity. The cricket game and its background are painted in an impressionist manner. There is little detail and the overall feeling is of the pearly sky and ground. The figures which move like ants down the off-centred road and around the back of the pitch are undefined. They are formed by dabs of paint. How different the crowd at the front is depicted. Although depicted on a background that matches the cricket pitch, the figures are clear and well defined. There is an individually to each; some, such as the half figure of the woman in red at the front is recognisable from other Lowry works.
A Cricket Sight-Board is a typical Lowry crowd scene. There is little openness as the figures create lines across the canvas, each figure set within its own space. Communication between the people, most of whom face out towards the viewer and not in towards the match, is almost non-existent. Even the ubiquitous dog moves unfettered and unattached.
But the linear placement of the figures does not mean stasis. There are various tableaux and individual activity within the scene. With a stroke or two of his brush, Lowry has created not only a sense of movement, but also emotion.
At the lower right, Lowry has put two distinct groups of people lying on the ground. Those around them show their concern by their positions - hands on hips and raised arms - and by their facial expressions. The 'O' formed by mouth of one of the figures is characteristic and is found on various of Lowry's people. At the lower centre left is a person whose body, with hand on hip, elbow bent, legs spread and open mouth, suggests an argumentative stance. Wherever one looks, there is something of interest.
During the 1960s, Lowry mainly painted small works with the emphasis on the individual and with little or no background, but on these two paintings he spent almost five years working on a complex subject that interested him and on resolving the problem which the original work presented.
We are very grateful to Judith Sandling for providing the above catalogue entry.
The Cricket Match; and A Cricket Sight-Board
Each oil on canvas laid on board
The first signed and dated 'L.S. LOWRY/1964-9' (lower left), and signed and dated again 'L.S. Lowry 29 April 1970' (on a label attched to the stretcher); the second signed and dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1964-9' (lower centre), and signed and dated again 'L.S. Lowry 29 April 1970' (on a label attached to the stretcher)
Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A
Salford, Art Gallery, L.S. Lowry Centenary Exhibition, October - November 1987, no. 182, as 'The Cricket Match' and no. 183, as 'Cricket Sight Board', touring to London, Barbican Art Gallery, no. 124, as 'Cricket Sight Board'.
London, Royal Academy of Arts, L.S. Lowry 1887-1976, September - November 1976, no. 294, as 'Lancashire League Cricket Match' and no. 295, as 'Crowd Around a Cricket Sight-Board'.
Manchester, City of Manchester Art Gallery, on loan.
Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Paintings and drawings by L.S. Lowry and Graphics by John Nash', July - September 1969, no. 17, as 'Lancashire League Cricket Match' and no. 18, as 'Crowd round Cricket Sight Board'.
Salford, The Lowry, on loan.
the former 15½ x 30½ in. (39.3 x 77.4 cm.); the latter 9½ x 30½ in. (24.1 x 77.4 cm.) (2)
M. Levy, The Paintings of L.S. Lowry Oils and Watercolours, London, 1975, pl. 65 and pl. 66.
Exhibition catalogue, L.S. Lowry, RA, London, Royal Academy, 1976, p. 90, no. 294 and no. 295, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, L.S. Lowry, Centenary Exhibition, Salford, Salford Art Gallery, 1987, fig. 24.
Given by the artist to the present owner's father, and by descent.