Lowry’s Two Beauties
Portrait of Ann (1957) and Astarte Syriaca (1873) have an unassuming connection. One painted by British painter L.S.Lowry, a copy of the other hung in the artist’s bedroom.
Ann is a mystery. Lowry always referred to her as a real person but left no trail of who this beauty was. He painted her again and again. Her face is beautiful, symmetrical, perfectly formed, yet haunting.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s ideal of beauty, epitomised in Astarte Syriaca, influenced and affected Lowry. He said ‘As for my Rossetti paintings… I have always been fascinated by certain types of women he painted. I’m a Victorian alright…’
Rossetti’s sister Christina wrote about her brother’s obsession with a particular type of woman. ‘One face looks out from all his canvases… not as she is, but as she fills his dreams’.
In Dante’s own words from his poem ‘A Last Confession’: ‘She had a mouth made to bring death to life… Her face was pearly pale… her high neck bore her face made wonderful with night and day… Her great eyes, That sometimes turned half-dizzily beneath the passionate lids.’
Lowry rarely painted women. Therefore Ann (real or imagined) is intriguing, very intriguing indeed. Could she be Lowry’s vision of ideal beauty?
If you would like to see Ann for yourself, go to Salford, the Lowry Art Gallery, and there she graces the wall.