LS Lowry's atypical Beach Scene has performed strongly at Christie's Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale.
The 1946 work sold within estimate for £1.5m ($1.8m) at the June 20 sale in London.
Lowry chooses the seaside as his inspiration in the piece, a radical departure from his more famous industrial scenes of northern England.
His famed matchstick men are still in evidence here, but they have swapped the trudge to the factory for leisure pursuits, one of a number of such works Lowry produced in the 1940s and 1950s as he looked to convey Britain's post-war optimism.
Christie's comments: "Lowry's cast of holidaymakers appear more determined to enjoy the possibilities of a sunny day... they push babies in prams or walk with dogs, and the girls wear summer dresses and the boys ride bicycles. However, the hints of an industrial landscape beyond the composition, remind the viewer that this leisure break will soon be followed by the working week."
This is the first time the work has appeared at auction, having been purchased directly from Lowry's dealer, the Lefevre Gallery, in the 1940s.
The record for Lowry stands at £5.6m ($8.3m), achieved by Piccadilly Circus, London in 2011.
The most valuable lot in the sale was Henry Moore's Mother and Child, which the sculptor produced in the early 1980s. It sold above estimate for £1.8m ($2.6m).
Bridget Riley's Midi also performed well, making £902,500 ($1.3m).
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