A painting by sought after, reclusive Lancashire artist Theodore Major titled ‘Man in a Storm’ is expected to sell for up to £25,000 when it goes under the hammer on November 19.
Described as “a great individualist in the British art world” in his obituary in The Independent, Major (1908-1999) was born in Wigan and was proud of his working-class background. Rejecting the commercial galleries, he said he did not paint for money and wanted with his paintings, drawings and prints to capture the attention of ordinary people, especially children.
Largely self-taught, he attended evening art classes at Wigan Art School and, in 1952, founded and ran Wigan Art Club, which was held in a room above the Crofters Arms. His declared aim was “to disturb and extend consciousness in the mind of the viewer” and said “painting was my life and art my religion.” Declining to sell pictures to “rich people”, he kept around 3,000 back from sale, saying that they were painted for ordinary people, not money.
His reputation steadily grew and he eventually showed his work with L. S. Lowry and others, leading to Arts Council-sponsored solo shows in Blackburn and Carlisle and a major exhibition of his pictures at the Salford Art Gallery in 1984.
“With a major retrospective, non-selling exhibition of Major’s work planned early in the new year, one can almost guarantee that there will be a further resurgence of interest in his work during the course of the next few years,” said Allan Darwell, head of the paintings department, who met the artist’s wife whilst working in Chester.