Lowry's ferry comes to the Walker Art Gallery


Liverpool is adding to its collection of Lowry artworks with a long-term loan of a painting which features a Mersey Ferry on the river.

The Stretford-born artist’s 1963 work The Royal Iris will go on show at the Walker Art Gallery from tomorrow.

It is being loaned by the Alderson Smith family which also owns two other Lowry paintings on show at the Walker – The Liver Buildings, Liverpool (1950) and The Waterloo Dock, Liverpool (1962). The gallery’s other Lowry, The Fever Van (1935), is part of the Walker’s own collection.

The Royal Iris was known as the ‘fish and chip’ boat as it had its own chip shop on board. It also had a stage and a dance floor and is well remembered from Liverpool’s Merseybeat era and bands including The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers played on board.

The muted colours of the painting, which also shows a faint outline of the iconic Liverpool skyline, are distinctive of Lowry’s style.

National Museums Liverpool's head of fine art Ann Bukantas said: “Lowry is probably best known for his scenes of working-class life in Salford but excitingly this painting represents a very different side of his work.

"Instead of an industrial landscape, it shows a very calm river Mersey, and rather than his well-known ‘matchstick men’, we see a small number of boats with the ferry at the centre. The ferry itself is full of character.

“The colours and flattened picture plane are, however, very recognisable as Lowry’s style and we know visitors will be fascinated to see it alongside three of his other works, two of which are also rare Liverpool scenes.”

The Royal Iris will be on display from March 22.


Image top: The Royal Iris © The Estate of L.S. Lowry. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2022