Lowry’s Going To Work comes home

One of L S Lowry’s best known works, Going To Work, is being shown for the first time in Manchester, where it will be a permanent resident.

And following refurbishment and conservation, it is in better condition to be seen than for decades. It goes on display at the Imperial War Museum North today.

Lowry, who lived and worked alL his life in Manchester and Salford, was commissioned to paint the picture by the War Artists Advisory Committee in 1943 at the height of Manchester’s worst bombardments of the Second World War, and shows factory workers on their way to the Mather & Plat engineering works in Newton Heath, Manchester. The factory, founded in the 19thcentury to make battery pumps, was requisitioned during the war to produce munitions for the war effort.

It was assigned to the Imperial War Museum, one of 6,000 works commissioned and collected by the committee, 3,000 of which went to the IWM including Going To Work. Lowry was paid 25 guineas for it and completed it in three months.

Meanwhile it has undergone conservation, including the removal of varnish that had been added later - Lowry did not varnish his paintings – and had affected the colour balancing of the artwork, giving it a yellow tint.

“Lowry’s Going to Work is part of a broader collection of artworks at IWM depicting wartime industry. British manufacturing was a very important subject for artists in both world wars, representing the huge effort of men and women who worked in factories across the country” said Claire Brenard, the IUWM’s curator. “Lowry, whose reputation was growing at the start of the Second World War, was seen by the War Artists Advisory Committee as the ideal artist to paint the subject of war production in his native Manchester. We are extremely fortunate that this work came into IWM’s collection at the end of the war and it is incredibly exciting that it will finally be going on permanent display in its home city.”

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