Scrubbed of Ketchup Stains, LS Lowry Work Ready to Debut

L.S. Lowry's "View of Deptford Power Station from Greenwich" the larger painting that inspired the ketchup-stained work. Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum, London.

Restorers preparing The Thames at Greenwich, by British artist LS Lowry (1887–1976), for its public debut had an unusual conservation challenge: tomato ketchup stains. As reported by the BBC, the oil painting, which has hung in a family home since the 1970s, will be on display at the Lowry Arts Centre in Salford, England, through December.

According to a BBC interview with a Lowry Arts Centre spokesperson, the work “had a light layer of surface dirt [and] two small and very old, ketchup stains,” thought to have been acquired during its years in the private residence.

The painting and a related drawing that will accompany it in the exhibition, both circa 1957–59, were created in connection with Lowry’s major 1959 work, View of Deptford Power Station from Greenwich, which belongs to London’s National Maritime Museum. The center’s curator, Clare Stewart, told the BBC that it is “very exciting to be able to display pictures which will be completely unknown to our visitors.”

Although Lowry was “a regular visitor to London,” Stewart added, “his views of the city are relatively rare.” While his paintings of street traffic in Piccadilly Circus are well-known, “his fascination with waterways, however, meant he was obviously drawn to the Thames—and these works are a great example of that.”

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