Lowry as an Investment

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Has Lowry’s Art Been a Sound Investment?

Although we always encourage collectors to value their artwork based on non financial criteria, undoubtedly the financial value and appreciation can be relevant, particularly in higher value artworks.

Often collectors are trying to anticipate the likely future value of an artist’s work, and although history is not a guarantee of future values, it can be useful for context and to assess the momentum of an artist’s demand.

With history in mind, it is fair to say that Lowry’s art has appreciated in price significantly over the past few decades which includes his original works and also his limited edition prints more recently. Broadly speaking, the average price of Lowry’s signed prints has increased by around ten fold since 1999 with the most desirable examples such as Going to the Match now commanding in excess of £50,000 in some galleries.  Prices do vary however depending upon several factors including the edition size of the piece, condition, subject matter and also the outlet in which it is being offered.  The most desirable and sought examples tend to be examples from lower edition runs such as the original lithograph editions of just 75 examples each, and those featuring classic Lowry subject matter in excellent condition.  

According to a recent study, Lowry’s work has been said to have appreciated on average by around 15% per annum over the last twenty years which is born out by real life examples.  Going to the Match is again a good example but on this occasion the original painting offers a superb example of a like for like sale over time.

Painted in 1953, the original painting of Going to the Match was sold in 1999 via Sothebys London to the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) for £1.926m.  The price paid by the PFA for the depiction of Burnden Park, former home of Bolton Wanderers, was a record at the time and could have been seen as the pinnacle of his pricing at the time.  Just over two decades later however, the painting was offered for sale once again by Christies in London in October 2022 where collectors and dealers waited with bated breath to see what the painting would fetch two decades on.  Onlookers didn’t have to wait long to see the painting sell for £7.846m including premium with the painting purchased by a private collector in order to donate it to the permanent collection of the Lowry in Salford.  A noble and much appreciated gesture.

Giles Hepplestone with Going to the Match at the Lowry Centre, Salford.

This aspect explains one of the continuing driving forces behind the appreciation in price of the leading works by blue chip artists as many are now being acquired by museums for permanent collections, thus reducing the number of quality examples coming to market over time.  As more examples move into public collections, the quantity of works available for resale reduces over time. With Lowry having produced relatively few paintings in comparison to many contemporary artists, this is particularly pertinent in the case of his works.

Other elements also impact pricing including the artist’s growing popularity through leading exhibitions and retrospectives at the likes of the Tate, along with the fact that Lowry is now considered one of the most important British artists of the 20th century. 

In recent years there has also been a growing interest in British art globally, and Lowry’s work has benefited from this trend. As a result, his paintings and prints are now selling for prices that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago.

If you are considering investing in Lowry art, it is important to do your research and consult with a dealer experienced in the market.  Find a reputable dealer with whom you can build up a long term relationship who can advise not only the process of building your collection, but also all aspects of owning and preserving your collection for future generations. 

To discuss Lowry and collecting in more detail, please feel free to contact the gallery where we would be happy to help and advise.