Painting the North: L.S Lowry’s July, the Seaside (1943)
In the second instalment of a new series entitled Painting the North, Ant Cosgrove, the man behind The Northern Art Page on Facebook, will be sharing striking works of art, sketches and drawings from around The North of England. As the weeks progress, Ant will bring you his image of the week from the popular social media page. This week it’s L.S. Lowry’s July, the Seaside (1943) from the Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London
Ant says: Lowry’s amusing and distinctive vision of British Summertime is captured in this work, July, the Seaside, painted in 1943 and in the collection of the Arts Council.
We associate a beach in July with scenes of sunshine, sunbathers and paddling in the sea. But Lowry’s tongue-in-cheek version shows each painted character fully clothed, many with hats and coats on, and a few who are brave enough to venture into the sea. Some are entertained at the swings or at the Punch & Judy show, others are playing in the sand, digging holes or building sandcastles in the cold.
At this point in his career, Lowry had been painting his Northern industrial street scenes for many years. In July, the Seaside, he has effectively transported the same figures from his townscapes, and placed them onto the beach – including their attire. Socially, the British working class would indeed travel by the trainload to the seaside for their annual holidays. This was a time when travelling abroad was for the wealthy and our British coastal towns were packed with tourists from the cities during the summertime.
It is interesting to note that when this work was painted in 1943, Britain was in the middle of the Second World War. Perhaps the painting contains an element of the sobering impact war has on the usual joyful association we have with a beach in Summer.
By Ant Cosgrove, The Northern Art Page
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Thought for the Day: “What can it be about low temperatures that sharpens the edges of objects?” ― Ian McEwan