'The Fever Van', L S Lowry, 1935
© The Estate of L.S. Lowry. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2012
Oil on canvas, 43.1 x 53.5cm
Accession Number WAG363
Lawrence Stephen Lowry is best known for his 'matchstick men and women', paintings of people in the industrial towns of the north of England. He grew up in Stretford, now a suburb of Manchester. Most of his work portrays desolate urban landscapes peopled by anonymous figures.
'The Fever Van' is one of the many views of Salford painted by Lowry. It is, however, a distinctive work. While most of his paintings of the urban scene are predominantly atmospheric, here there is a story at the heart of the picture. An ambulance has drawn up outside a house to collect a fever patient.
Lowry has chosen to show the scene from a distance, as if he is trying to suggest that such events are part of every day life in the town. The painting conveys the pain and suffering of not just the victim, but of the community as a whole.
An extended study of 'The Fever Van' is also available online as part of our Artwork of the Month series.