Art of the Day: L.S. Lowry ‘The Cricket Match’ (1938)

L.S. Lowry (1887-1976), ‘The Cricket Match’, 1938, oil on canvas, 46 x 61 cm.

L.S. Lowry (1887 – 1976) spent his youth in the northwest of England at the turn of the 20th century, when industrialization was gathering pace, turning heartlands like Salford, where he worked for 40 years, into gritty, smoke-filled cities. Yet, it was this brooding setting that inspired Lowry to create some of his most endearing work, like ‘The Cricket Match’ (1938), pictured above.

 “Cricket match” has all the trademarks of a Lowry painting – in particular, his cartoon-like human figures that are often referred to as “matchsticks men.” It is an engaging work that holds your attention for its emotive quality.

The most engaging aspect of this painting is surely the group of children in the foreground playing make-believe cricket. To contrast their innocent joys, Lowry puts two non-descript buildings in the background. The one on the left is almost ghostly with its broken and boarded up windows, and the building on the right is belching out smoke, a symbol of industrial blight. On the left are a group of grown-ups, smoking and complaining about their lot, oblivious to the match going on behind them. The dead tree immediately above them and the broken fence posts below add to the gloomy scene. Amid of all these are the children, joyfully playing “cricket” in an urban wasteland. Notice a couple of children are facing the wrong way, and the bowler is surely delivering no ball. Still, this is a scene of much joy, as if Lowry is the preacher telling his congregation that there’s always light amidst the blight.

Details of ‘The Cricket Match’

LS Lowry in his studio at Mottram, 1955

Leave a Reply