Lowry masterpiece sold to private collector would be tragic – mayor of Salford

The painting will headline Christies Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale on October 19.

The mayor of Salford said it would be “truly tragic” if LS Lowry’s painting Going To The Match was sold to a private collector and was not free for the public to access.

The artwork, depicting a bustling throng of people gathered at Burnden Park football stadium former home of the Bolton Wanderers, is among a series of paintings going under the hammer at Christie’s Modern British and Irish Art evening sale on October 19.

Paul Dennett, mayor of Salford, said that the new owner of the painting must keep it “free to access” in the city of Salford, greater Manchester and the North.

On Twitter he wrote: “LS Lowry’s ‘Going to the Match’ captures the essence of the match day experience within our working class communities in 1953, with ordinary men, women and children streaming into the ground, capturing the sociology of football rather than the commercialism of the match itself.

“It would be truly tragic for our footballing community, heritage and proud working class history here in Salford, Greater Manchester and the North if this iconic painting ceased to be free to access as part of LS Lowry’s biggest collection of paintings and drawings @The_Lowry.

“Wouldn’t it be truly tragic if this iconic LS Lowry painting ‘Going to the Match’ was sold to a private collector and ceased to be free to access by people here in the City of Salford as it has been for the past 22 years on the walls of @The_Lowry?”

Julia Fawcett, chief executive of the Lowry museum and gallery, told the Guardian that the gallery was not in a position to buy the painting, which is estimated to fetch up to £8 million.

However, she said that they would like to have a conversation with the buyer about the “responsibility that comes with owning such a work”.

“This isn’t just any painting. We have school trips, children coming to study the work. It’s clearly linked to the social history of our city. It’s seen not just by traditional art lovers, the painting draws in the ordinary people it represents. We have coachloads of football fans coming in ahead of a match,” she said.

In 1999, Going to the Match was bought by the Professional Footballers Association for £1,926,500 including buyers premium at Sotheby’s – a record price at auction for a Lowry and any modern British painting.