The artwork, of a bustling crowd of people gathered at an auction, is among a series of paintings going under the hammer at Sotheby’s Modern British and Irish Art sale.
The auction will take place on November 23 and will feature works by some of Britain and Ireland’s celebrated artists including Henry Moore, Bridget Riley, Samuel Peploe and Jack Butler Yeats.
Lowry’s artwork, titled The Auction, has never been offered at an auction before and was acquired by the present more than two decades ago.
Executed on a large scale in 1958, it was exhibited at Lowry’s retrospective show at the Royal Academy in 1976 and was last shown at AMNUA in Nanjing in China in 2014.
The artwork is estimated to sell for between £1.2–1.8 million when it goes under the hammer, while a second piece by Lowry depicting a mill house is placed at £300,000-500,000.
Frances Christie, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s UK & Ireland, said about the artwork: “There can be few paintings more apt for auction than Lowry’s own auction scene, a work that captures the buzz of an auction in a manner that only Lowry, with his distinctive iconography, could.
The artist was no stranger to auction himself, and as an avid collector of clocks and Pre-Raphaelite art, he indulged his passion with bids in salerooms from Manchester to London.
She added: “He often kept track of his own pictures passing through Sotheby’s later in life, witnessing an appreciation for his work that formed a total contrast to the outset of his career when he struggled for recognition.
“The pleasing circularity of The Auction’s appearance at Sotheby’s would no doubt have satisfied Lowry’s wry sense of humour – a case of life imitating art.”
The auction also offers a Dame Elisabeth Frink sculpture from the collection of British fashion designer Dame Mary Quant.
The sculpture, which was the first piece acquired by Quant and was displayed in her living room, is now up for sale with an estimate of £60,000-80,000.
The Modern British & Irish sale will also showcase work from early British Modernists including Ben Nicholson, Christopher Wood and Edward Wadsworth, to titans of the 20th century such as Moore and Lowry.
It will feature the generation of post-war sculptors like William Turnbull and Kenneth Armitage, and artists working today including Frank Auerbach and Riley.
Peploe’s work represents the Scottish Colourists whilst a diverse group of Irish artists include Yeats, Paul Henry, William Orpen and Gerald Dillon.
A scenic painting by Yeats, titled A Nor’ Western Town, is also estimated to sell for between £350,000-550,000, while an abstract portrait by Auerbach named Head of Gerda Boehm is estimated for £350,000-450,000.