A mysterious LS Lowry painting, found on the back of a canvas and said to reveal the artist's fame in early 20th century France, has provided an intriguing twist ahead of the opening of the most high-profile public exhibition of his works since his death in 1976.
The unnamed vision of a crowded town square in industrial Salford was spotted on the reverse of the wooden panel used by Lowry to paint his 1937 piece, The Mission Room.
© The estate of LS Lowry, presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1956
Investigations by curators suggest it is an earlier version of two works, one of which, 1928’s A Town Square, was shown in Paris and appeared in a French who’s who of contemporary artists in 1931.
Lowry’s art was more of a fixture in the French capital than London at the time. The reverse has only been seen at Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, which has loaned the painting to Tate as one of more than 90 works in a new show, Lowry and the Painting of Life, opening at Tate Britain on Wednesday.
Despite being considered an authoritative chronicler of life in Britain, Lowry was hugely influenced by the French artist, Adolphe Valette, who introduced the artist to impressionism during several years as his tutor in Manchester.
Early NHS hospitals, Piccadilly Circus, industrial Wigan and the mining valleys of South Wales offer a few of the other backdrops for Lowry’s revered studies of worlds in motion.
- Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life is at Tate Britain from June 26 – October 20 2013.