Lowry masterpiece to remain free for public after sale to The Lowry arts centre

The historic painting, depicting a throng of people gathered at Burnden Park football stadium, sold for a record-breaking £6.6 million on Wednesday.

LS Lowry’s painting Going To The Match will remain free for the public to view after being bought by The Lowry arts centre in Salford.

The historic painting, depicting a bustling throng of people gathered at Burnden Park football stadium, former home of Bolton Wanderers, sold at auction for a record-breaking £6.6 million on Wednesday.

The buyer has since been revealed to be The Lowry, with the purchase facilitated by The Law Family Charitable Foundation.

The artwork’s sale, organised by The Players Foundation, was the subject of controversy, with the mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, saying the new owner must keep it “free to access”.

In a statement after the sale, Julia Fawcett, chief executive of The Lowry museum and gallery, said the institution is “delighted” to have made the purchase.

“We firmly believe that this iconic artwork must remain on public view so it can continue to be seen by the broadest possible audiences for free,” she said.

“This evening, thanks to an incredibly generous gift from The Law Family Charitable Foundation, we are delighted to have purchased the painting for the city’s collection of LS Lowry works.

“We look forward to bringing it home to Salford, where it can continue to delight and attract visitors to the Andrew and Zoe Law galleries at The Lowry.

“A great deal of work has been needed to make this intervention possible. I’d like to thank Andrew and Zoe Law, our chair Sir Rod Aldridge, Salford’s city mayor Paul Dennett and our trustees for all of their support.”

The sum is a new record price for a work by Lowry sold at auction.

Mr Dennett previously told the PA news agency that keeping the work in an art gallery free of charge would become “all the more important” in the current economic climate.

Following the announcement, Mr Dennett said: “I am delighted our campaign to save this critical and important painting has successfully resulted in The Lowry securing it  tonight, for the city of Salford in perpetuity for generations to come, for residents and visitors to our great city.”

Andrew Law, who helped facilitate the purchase, said, “Zoe and I are delighted to have facilitated The Lowry’s purchase of Going To The Match.

“This LS Lowry painting belongs in Salford on public view, close to his birthplace, where he was educated and where he lived.

“Place matters. LS Lowry’s depiction of people attending a football match is just one of his many incredible genres of work but it is undoubtedly his most iconic.”

In 1999, Going To The Match was bought by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) for £1,926,500 including buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s, setting a record price at auction for both a Lowry and modern British painting.

The Players Foundation was formerly the charitable arm of the PFA but is now legally and operationally a completely separate organisation.