Rugby League themed painting up for sale

Renowned Northern artist LS Lowry’s only painting that depicts Rugby League is expected to fetch at least £500,000 when it goes up for auction next month.

‘Coming from the Match’ shows supporters spilling out of a ground bordered by factories and terraced houses and dates from 1959.

It is said to be based on Rochdale Hornets’ Athletic Grounds, the home to the club between 1894 and 1988.

Manchester-born Laurence Stephen Lowry, who died aged 88 in 1976, is best known for his portrayal of industrial areas in his native Lancashire, often Salford, and his distinctive matchstick-style figures.

Along with ‘Ironworks’ (1941) and ‘The Elite Fish and Chip Shop’ (1949), ‘Coming from the Match’ has an estimate of £500,000-£800,000.

The three paintings lead the 19 that make up a stand-alone Lowry sale, which is titled ‘People Watching’ and takes place at the well-known London auction house Christie’s on July 2.

Rachel Hidderley, a senior director in the firm’s modern British art department, explained: “Visually, he is unique.

“When you see a Lowry, you know you are looking at a Lowry, and that makes him very accessible to people. You don’t feel you have to know a lot about him to appreciate what’s going on.”

The fact that ‘Coming from the Match’ is Lowry’s only Rugby League-themed work (the posts can be seen rising above the ground’s perimeter wall) is expected to add to the interest in it.

Lowry, a Manchester City supporter, also depicted football and cricket.

In 1953, he painted ‘The Football Match (later renamed ‘Going to the Match’), based on Bolton Wanderers’ former ground Burnden Park, which hosted some Rugby League games in the late eighties and early nineties.

That painting was bought for £1.9m by the Professional Footballers’ Association in 1999.