The Lake

1937 by L. S. Lowry
The Lowry Collection, City of Salford

The Lake is deceptively named, there being less lake than obvious urbanisation. Smoking turrets surround and boats leak into the still waters; dark and slightly ominous, the city surrounds in pylons, stuck and angled in the earth, as half submerged boats spill their cargo off the sloping banks, and the mass of the town beyond smokes its way into the sky. The banks of the lake epitomise this feeling of being surrounded; piled high they crowd the lake, their picket fences everywhere, merging land with water as their ends are lost in the depths. Lowry’s depths are not darkly deep but starling white and gleaming, juxtaposing the blackness of the surrounding earth. The rest of the composition is awash with blue and grey; leaking like ink they dilute across the composition, defining each distant building – from the windows to the church spires – and sitting darkly in dregs that drift across the water. As with so many of Lowry’s paintings the picture possesses a human-like personality in the expressive way in which each component is painted. There are none of Lowry’s distinctive figures here, but the town appears alive; this painting breathes with the teeming activity of the enclosing city.


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