Harold Riley was born in 1934 in Salford, and during his student days met and became friendly with L.S. Lowry, who became a huge influence on Riley’s work; Riley and Lowry collaborated on a project to document Salford’s industrial landscape and the day-to-day working lives of its inhabitants. Although Harold Riley has painted his native city many times, he’s probably best known for his portraits of such notable figures as the Duke of Edinburgh and Nelson Mandela. A lifelong sports enthusiast, Harold Riley played for Manchester United’s junior team and often paints sporting scenes of golf and football. He sold his first painting to the Salford City Art Gallery when he was 11, and has since held exhibitions of his work there.
Harold Riley’s long collaboration with Lowry resulted in several hybrid works signed by both artists, which are extremely popular at auction and tend to fetch excellent prices. Other collectable subjects include typical city scenes and sporting topics. As Harold Riley normally works by making a series of sketches and notes for each painting, the examples of these preliminary works that find their way onto the market hold a strong interest for collectors and also perform well. As with all artwork, the value of Harold Riley’s paintings varies enormously according to the period, size and subject matter. In addition to portraits and landscapes, his sporting subjects are extremely popular, and he’s probably the world’s best known painter of golf-related subjects. Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson both have collections of football paintings, and he’s artist-in-residence at the Dunhill Golf Championships. The influence of Lowry in Harold Riley’s early oil paintings is obvious and in recent years these examples have rocketed in price at auction and prove both rare and very popular with collectors. At Peter Wilson’s, our in-house expert Stephen Sparrow has years of experience in assessing and valuing Harold Riley’s work, so do get in touch if you’d like to learn more about a piece you own, or discuss a potential sale or valuation.
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