Fun Fair at Daisy Nook (1953) is a marvellous and life-enhancing record of the world at play - a festival or bank holiday, perhaps, and quite probably the Easter Fair celebrated in a pair of similar paintings from 1946, both entitled Good Friday, Daisy Nook. (One is in the Government Art Collection and was recently on display at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, as part of an on-going celebration of that largely unknown public collection, fig. 1; the other was sold in these Rooms, 8 June 2007, lot 114, for £3,772,000, then the world record price for the artist). This popular Lancashire fair was evidently a favourite subject for Lowry. Daisy Nook is between Droylsden and Failsworth, near Manchester, and the annual Good Friday fair is still run by the Silcock family, whose name is blazoned over the castellated tent end above the eye-catching word 'Thriller'. This was evidently an advertisement for some kind of Wall-of-Death entertainment. The foreground frieze of people includes balloon and whirligig sellers, kids in pointed hats, dogs, prams: the slice of urban life on holiday that Lowry loved to depict.
Writing about Good Friday, Daisy Nook, Andras Kalman commented: 'Look at the figures - absolutely marvellous, beautifully moulded, and all different. Everything is sculpted, placed, the whole picture is choreographed. The enormous busy-ness is superbly balanced with the emptiness of the heath behind, the tents and caravans with the people arriving or going home through the fields'. This happy throng offers the other side to the grim reality of the working day in an industrial city, and Lowry's evident enjoyment of the spectacle of people at leisure gives the lie to the idea of him as a misanthropic old curmudgeon who liked to paint the miserable and the ugly. In fact, there's more than an echo of Monet's celebratory painting Rue Saint-Denis, National Day, 30 June, 1878, in the incidence and preponderance of red. The effect of flag waving captured by an Impressionist could easily be something that Lowry absorbed from his teacher Valette, and which re-surfaced in the colourful animated throng of Daisy Nook.
Fun Fair at Daisy Nook
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1953' (lower right)
Laurence Stephen Lowry
Laurence Stephen Lowry , 20th Century, Paintings, oil, Great Britain, Modern
London, Lefevre Gallery, A Memorial Exhibition of Paintings & Drawings by L.S. Lowry R.A., May - July 1976, no. 21.
Modern British & Irish Art
28 x 36 in. (71.1 x 91.5 cm.)
Exhibition catalogue, A Memorial Exhibition of Paintings & Drawings by L.S. Lowry R.A., London, Lefevre Gallery, 1976, no. 21, illustrated.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 17 March 1976, lot 90.
with Lefevre Gallery, London, where purchased by the present owner in October 1977.