Famous rugby league painting worth more than £2m to go on public display

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

A famous rugby league painting worth more than £2million is set to go on public display.

Painted in 1928, Going to the Match is among the earliest known, if not the earliest, depiction of one of L.S. Lowry’s most iconic subjects – that of spectators going to a sporting event.

It is one of only a small handful of paintings of rugby league known to have been painted by Lowry. In the painting, the red flag seen flying by the ground, as well as the red scarves worn by several of the spectators, hints at Salford – Lowry’s local team.

The painting has remained in the same family collection since 1972, and only exhibited once before now in 1966. Going to the Match will be offered with an estimate of £2m-£3m as part of Sotheby’s inaugural British Art: Modern/Contemporary live-stream auction this summer.

The painting will travel to New York, Edinburgh and Dublin for public exhibitions ahead of the auction, before going on view at Sotheby’s New Bond Street from June 22-29.

Deputy chairman of Sotheby’s UK & Ireland, Frances Christie, said: “Lowry was the ultimate onlooker, and in his compositions focusing on sporting subjects, it is the crowd that fascinated him above all else.

“Not only is this likely to be the earliest sports related picture Lowry painted, but it is also one of his very first depictions of a mass of people going to and from anywhere.

“In this phenomenal painting, the figures lean forward in unison, emphasising their common purpose in being drawn to the rugby posts clearly visible on the left-hand side of the canvas.

“The pre-match sense of energy, excitement and anticipation is palpable and will resonate with any sports lover today, almost 100 years after it was painted.”

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