James Lawrence Isherwood F.R.S.A. – F.I.A.L ( 1917 – 1989 )

” A great collection featuring some of Isherwood’s best subjects, which offers an insight into the artist and his work. ” 

Richard Hopkinson, Bonhams

” This new website devoted to James Lawrence Isherwood is superb & a joy to see & will be enjoyed by the ever increasing army of Isherwood devotees 

Geoffrey Shryhane,  Journalist and JLI former agent 

Welcome to our private collection. We hope you enjoy this site, dedicated to a unique artist who is now receiving the acclaim and respect he truly deserves. His work has become very popular, widely collected and is performing very well at auction, as interest continues to grow around Northern art.

James Lawrence Isherwood was an English artist born in Wigan, Lancashire, in 1917. He was a prolific impressionist/expressionist painter. Jim (as he was known) travelled extensively hosting over 200 shows, including colleges at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He was an eccentric, controversial character best known for his Northern industrial landscapes. Wigan figures and London street scenes feature heavily in some of his most sought after works.

25 years after his death in 1989, he has developed a strong following and is being fiercely collected. His work is held in public collections, along with being in the hands of notable collectors such as Prince Charles, Sir Ian Mckellen, The Marquess of Bath and L.S.Lowry – the most celebrated northern artist of all. A number of his works can be seen at BBC Your Paintings  website and the official estate website artbyisherwood.co.uk.

Values are going up year on year, especially for key works, benefiting from the growing interest in northern artists.  Lead by Lowry and his highly successful Tate exhibition last year, where the spotlight firmly shone on the Northern art scene, bringing it to the attention of collectors and dealers around the world. This new interest makes it an exciting time for all lovers of the northern artists.

Isherwood studied under the French impressionist painter, Adolphe Valette, who also tutored Lowry. Lowry himself knew Jim, buying a painting from him, “Minnie Small with Kitten”, which can be seen in photographs of Lowry working in his studio. Lowry once said, “I only buy art I like and I bought an Isherwood.” He went on to say,” Isherwood is most likely to follow in my footsteps. ” There is no doubt Isherwood’s key works illustrate his unique gift for making us see the world in a different way.


A 1974 BBC documentary, “I am Isherwood”, was produced by Douglas Boyd who describes Isherwood as, ”a man living in the wrong age – living in Paris 1900 style but in Wigan in the 1970s. ” The documentary attracted further press attention leading to articles in the broadsheets amongst many publications – producing quotes from a number of art critics:-

” Isherwood is a painter of considerable energy often working with consummate brilliance.” Mervyn Levy (highly respected author of several books on L.S.Lowry).

“The most likely to follow in my footsteps.”
– LS Lowry

Simon Spence wrote in The Independent July 2000 regarding Lowry’s quote, ” Prosperity may be proving him right ”

” An emotionally handicapped Isherwood can still knock most of the others into a cocked hat. I predict he will be still collected when other artists are forgotten.” Stephen Dixon The Guardian

As is often the case for many gifted artists, Jim Isherwood’s labours during his life time only provided him with at best a very modest income. His works, always priced in guineas, would barely fetch £50 – £100. At times he would use paintings in exchange for food, alcohol and materials. Since his death, however, his work has been gaining interest and his key works are now found in the major auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Bonhams. Dealers and collectors predict his finest work will only increase as interest continues to develop – at last awarding him the full recognition he truly deserves.

A number of northern artists who have been well managed and represented by astute dealers, coupled with the dramatic interest in Northern art, are attracting attention worldwide.  This is resulting in a significant rise in values: Lowry, Valette, Major, Shields (Braaq), Brook, Riley, Key, Lowndes and Yates have all risen sharply over the last decade. Now our very own James Lawrence Isherwood follows suit, as new fans join his loyal followers, and competition between dealers and collectors intensifies.

On the one hand, it is really satisfying to see Isherwood breaking through with his profile increasing. On the other, rather frustrating as sourcing the best works for our collection is getting harder. This is creating a rarity of his finest paintings as dealers and collectors now hold back, retaining his key works while watching the market rise.

Recently Dr. Brian Iddon, a friend, admirer and collector of Isherwood’s work, published a biography. This new publication sits well next to Stephen Eckersley’s excellent illustrated book of the artist’s life and works. The original hardback copies are now changing hands for around £200 on eBay. A soft back edition, however, was released last year and is available through aidenmyersart.co.uk

For more information, we recommend artbyisherwood.co.uk with an abundance of research material plus articles from national and local press, along with rare audio and film footage. There is an excellent Isherwood gallery with feature updates and links, where you will also find our collection.

We would like to say thank you to Bob McWilliam at artbyisherwood, who regularly seeks out undiscovered works to add to the gallery. This makes it the most comprehensive record of Isherwood’s work in existence. It’s always exciting for collectors when Bob discovers a work which has never been seen in public before. His tireless endeavours are also a very useful research tool and help us all to identify fakes because, as Isherwood’s work continues to gain prominence, it is naturally attracting the attention of forgers. Please be aware.

Thanks also to journalist Geoffrey Shryhane, another authority on Isherwood, who first met Jim in 1963. His first-hand knowledge of the artist is invaluable. He has collaborated with Bob to establish the artbyisherwood site as well as contributing to many other sites, articles and books, especially Stephen Eckersley’s excellent illustrated book of the life and works of Isherwood.

We are very grateful to all the above mentioned dealers, collectors, aficionados & supporters

We would also like to thank:

John Whelan,Richard Heath, Martin Heaps, Richard Hopkinson, David Myers, Dr. Brian Iddon, Pete Webb, Amanda Porteous, Markk Carrington, Jan Rust, Jamie Bowden and Stephen Eckersley.

We hope you have found our website of interest. If you would like any further information please email info@jameslawrenceisherwood.co.uk.


” A fantastic collection. Isherwood followers and collectors can spend time on this site enjoying the work of a great artist ” 

Bob McWilliam, Artbyisherwood Official Site

” This catalogue of work showcases one of the best private collections of Isherwood’s work I have seen to date. It contains a wide selection of some of the artists best pieces “

Richard Heath Motion Fine Art