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L. S. Lowry

L. S. Lowry

Overview
Laurence Stephen Lowry was an English artist born in Barrett Street, Stretford
Stretford
Stretford is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, in Greater Manchester, England. Lying on flat ground between the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, it is to the southwest of Manchester city centre, south-southwest of Salford and northeast of Altrincham...

, Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

. Many of his drawings and paintings depict nearby Salford and surrounding areas, including Pendlebury
Pendlebury
Pendlebury is a suburban town in the City of Salford, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies to the northwest of Manchester city centre, northwest of Salford, and southeast of Bolton....

, where he lived and worked for over 40 years at 117 Station Road (B5231), opposite St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church.

Lowry is famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial district
Industrial district
Industrial district was initially introduced as a term to describe an area where workers of a monolithic heavy industry live within walking-distance of their places of work...

s of Northern England
Northern England
Northern England, also known as the North of England, the North or the North Country, is a cultural region of England. It is not an official government region, but rather an informal amalgamation of counties. The southern extent of the region is roughly the River Trent, while the North is bordered...

 during the early 20th century. He had a distinctive style of painting and is best known for urban landscapes peopled with human figures often referred to as "matchstick men".
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Encyclopedia
Laurence Stephen Lowry was an English artist born in Barrett Street, Stretford
Stretford
Stretford is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, in Greater Manchester, England. Lying on flat ground between the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, it is to the southwest of Manchester city centre, south-southwest of Salford and northeast of Altrincham...

, Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

. Many of his drawings and paintings depict nearby Salford and surrounding areas, including Pendlebury
Pendlebury
Pendlebury is a suburban town in the City of Salford, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies to the northwest of Manchester city centre, northwest of Salford, and southeast of Bolton....

, where he lived and worked for over 40 years at 117 Station Road (B5231), opposite St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church.

Lowry is famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial district
Industrial district
Industrial district was initially introduced as a term to describe an area where workers of a monolithic heavy industry live within walking-distance of their places of work...

s of Northern England
Northern England
Northern England, also known as the North of England, the North or the North Country, is a cultural region of England. It is not an official government region, but rather an informal amalgamation of counties. The southern extent of the region is roughly the River Trent, while the North is bordered...

 during the early 20th century. He had a distinctive style of painting and is best known for urban landscapes peopled with human figures often referred to as "matchstick men". He also painted mysterious unpopulated landscapes, brooding portraits, and the secret 'marionette' works, the latter only found after his death.

Because of his use of stylised figures and the lack of weather effects in many of his landscapes he is sometimes characterised as a naïve
Naïve art
Naïve art is a classification of art that is often characterized by a childlike simplicity in its subject matter and technique. While many naïve artists appear, from their works, to have little or no formal art training, this is often not true...

 'Sunday painter' although this is not the position of the galleries that have organised retrospectives of his works.

A large collection of Lowry's work is on permanent public display in a purpose-built art gallery
Art gallery
An art gallery or art museum is a building or space for the exhibition of art, usually visual art.Museums can be public or private, but what distinguishes a museum is the ownership of a collection...

 on Salford Quays
Salford Quays
Salford Quays is an area of Salford in Greater Manchester, England, near the end of the Manchester Ship Canal. Previously the site of Manchester Docks, it became one of the first and largest urban regeneration projects in the United Kingdom following the closure of the dockyards in...

, appropriately named The Lowry
The Lowry
The Lowry is a theatre and gallery complex situated on Pier 8 at Salford Quays, in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. It is named after the early-20th century painter, L. S. Lowry, known for his paintings of industrial scenes in North West England...

.

Early life


Lowry was born at 8, Barrett Street (now a community centre on Shrewsbury Street, Old Trafford, in Stretford). His family called him Laurie. It was a difficult birth, and his mother Elizabeth, who hoped for a girl, was uncomfortable even looking at him at first. Later she expressed envy of her sister Mary, who had "three splendid daughters" instead of one "clumsy boy". Lowry's father Robert, a clerk for the Jacob Earnshaw and Son Property Company, was a withdrawn and introverted man who Lowry once described as "a cold fish" and "(the sort of man who) realised he had a life to live and did his best to get through it."

After Lowry's birth his mother's health was too poor for her to continue teaching. She is reported to have been gifted and respected, with aspirations of becoming a concert pianist. She was an irritable, nervous woman brought up to expect high standards by her stern father. Like him, she was controlling and intolerant of failure. She used illness as a means of securing the attention and obedience of her mild and affectionate husband and she dominated her son in the same way. Lowry maintained, in interviews conducted later in his life, that he had an unhappy childhood, growing up in a repressive family atmosphere. Although his mother demonstrated no appreciation of her son's gifts as an artist, a number of books Lowry received as Christmas presents from his parents are inscribed to "Our dearest Laurie." At school he made few friends and showed no academic aptitude. His father was affectionate towards him but was, by all accounts, a quiet man who was at his most comfortable fading into the background as an unobtrusive presence.

Education



After leaving school, Lowry took private art lessons in the evenings on antique and freehand drawing. In 1905, he secured a place at the Manchester Municipal College of Art
Manchester Metropolitan University
Manchester Metropolitan University is a university in North West England. Its headquarters and central campus is in the city of Manchester, but there are outlying facilities in the county of Cheshire. It is the third largest university in the United Kingdom in terms of student numbers, behind the...

, where he studied under the French Impressionist artist Pierre Adolphe Valette
Pierre Adolphe Valette
Pierre Adolphe Valette was a French Impressionist painter. His most acclaimed paintings are urban landscapes of Manchester, now in the collection of Manchester Art Gallery. Today, he is chiefly remembered as L. S. Lowry's tutor....

. Lowry was full of praise for Valette as a teacher, remarking "I cannot over-estimate the effect on me of the coming into this drab city of Adolphe Valette, full of French impressionists, aware of everything that was going on in Paris". In 1915 he graduated to the Salford Royal Technical College (now the University of Salford
University of Salford
The University of Salford is a campus university based in Salford, Greater Manchester, England with approximately 20,000 registered students. The main campus is about west of Manchester city centre, on the A6, opposite the former home of the physicist, James Prescott Joule and the Working Class...

) where he continued studying until 1925. Here, he developed his interest in industrial landscapes and began to establish his style.

Death of his mother


His father died in 1932, leaving debts. His mother, subject to neurosis and depression, became bedridden and he had to care for her. He painted after his mother had fallen asleep, from 10pm to 2am, or, depending how tired he was, he might stay up another hour adding features. Many paintings produced during this period were damning self-portraits (often referred to as the "Horrible Heads" series), which demonstrate the influence of expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 and may have been inspired by an exhibition of Van Gogh's work at Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery is a publicly-owned art gallery in Manchester, England. It was formerly known as Manchester City Art Gallery.The gallery was opened in 1824 and today occupies three buildings, the oldest of which - designed by Sir Charles Barry - is Grade I listed and was originally home to...

 in 1931. He expressed regret that he received little recognition as an artist until the year his mother died and that she was not able to enjoy his success. From the mid-1930s until at least 1939 Lowry took annual holidays at Berwick-upon-Tweed
Berwick-upon-Tweed
Berwick-upon-Tweed or simply Berwick is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated 2.5 miles south of the Scottish border....

. At the outbreak of war Lowry served as a volunteer fire watcher and became an official war artist
War artist
A war artist depicts some aspect of war through art; this might be a pictorial record or it might commemorate how "war shapes lives." War artists have explored a visual and sensory dimension of war which is often absent in written histories or other accounts of warfare.- Definition and context:A...

 in 1943. In 1953 he was appointed Official Artist at the coronation
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 of Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

.

When his mother died in October 1939, Lowry became depressed and neglected the upkeep of his house to such a degree that the landlord repossessed it in 1948. He was not short of money and bought "The Elms" in Mottram in Longdendale
Mottram in Longdendale
Mottram in Longdendale is an unparished village within the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies in the valley of Longdendale, on the border with Derbyshire and close to the Peak District neighbouring Broadbottom and Hattersley. Mottram in Longdendale Parish was...

, Hyde
Hyde, Greater Manchester
Hyde is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside, Greater Manchester, England. As of the 2001 census, the town had a population of 31,253. Historically part of Cheshire, it is northeast of Stockport, west of Glossop and east of Manchester....

, Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

. Although he considered the house ugly and uncomfortable, he stayed there until his death almost 30 years later.

Personal life


In later years, Lowry spent holidays at the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland, County Durham
County Durham
County Durham is a ceremonial county and unitary district in north east England. The county town is Durham. The largest settlement in the ceremonial county is the town of Darlington...

, painting scenes of the beach and nearby ports and coal mines. When he had no sketchbook, Lowry drew scenes in pencil or charcoal on the back of envelopes, serviettes (napkins), and cloakroom tickets and presented them to young people sitting with their families. Such serendipitous pieces are now worth thousands of pounds; a serviette sketch can be seen at the Sunderland Mariott Hotel (formerly the Seaburn Hotel).

He was a secretive and mischievous man who enjoyed stories irrespective of their truth. His friends observed that his anecdote
Anecdote
An anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mot. An anecdote is always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, usually in an identifiable place...

s were more notable for humour than accuracy and in many cases he set out deliberately to deceive. His stories about the fictional Ann were inconsistent and he invented other people as frameworks on which to hang his tales. The collection of clocks in his living room were all set at different times: to some people he said that this was because he did not want to know the real time; to others he claimed that it was to save him from being deafened by their simultaneous chimes.

The contradictions in his life are exacerbated by this confusion. He is widely seen as a shy man, but he had many long-lasting friendships including the Salford artist, Harold Riley, and made new friends throughout his adult life. He bought works from young artists he admired, such as James Lawrence Isherwood
James Lawrence Isherwood
James Lawrence Isherwood was an English artist, born in Wigan, Lancashire, on the 7 April 1917, died on the 9 June 1989 of cancer.Isherwood was a prolific impressionist/expressionist painter....

 whose 'Woman with Black Cat', hung on his studio wall. He kept ongoing friendships with some of these artists. He befriended the 23-year-old Cumbrian artist Sheila Fell
Sheila Fell
Sheila Fell was an English artist. She was born at Aspatria, Cumberland in 1931, and although she lived in London for the greater part of her life, she devoted her career to painting and drawing places close to her place of birth...

 in November 1955, describing her as “the finest landscape artist of the mid-20th century”. He supported her career by buying several pictures that he gave to museums. Fell later described him as "A great humanist. To be a humanist, one has first to love human beings, and to be a great humanist, one has to be slightly detached from them." As he never married this had an impact on his influence, but he did have several lady friends. At the age of 88 he said that he had "never had a woman".

As his celebrity grew in the late 1950s, he grew tired of being approached by strangers, and particularly disliked being visited by them at home. Another of his unverifiable stories had him keeping a suitcase by the front door so that he could claim to be just leaving, a practice he claimed to have abandoned after a helpful young man insisted on taking him to the railway station and had to be sent off to buy a paper so that Lowry could buy a ticket for just one stop without revealing his deceit. However, he was polite to the residents of Mottram, who respected him and his privacy; he used the bus to get about the area in his retirement. A bronze statue of him was erected at the traffic lights in the village.

Despite attempts to present himself as a "simple man" and, by default, unable to appreciate post-classical art, Lowry seems to have been aware of major trends in 20th century art. In an interview with Mervyn Levy
Mervyn Levy
Mervyn Levy was a Welsh artist, art dealer, writer and critic. He is also known for his association with the poet Dylan Thomas as one of The Kardomah Gang....

 he expressed his admiration for the work of René Magritte
René Magritte
René François Ghislain Magritte[p] was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images...

 and Lucian Freud
Lucian Freud
Lucian Michael Freud, OM, CH was a British painter. Known chiefly for his thickly impasted portrait and figure paintings, he was widely considered the pre-eminent British artist of his time...

, although he admitted that he "didn't understand" Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon (painter)
Francis Bacon , was an Irish-born British figurative painter known for his bold, austere, graphic and emotionally raw imagery. Bacon's painterly but abstract figures typically appear isolated in glass or steel geometrical cages set against flat, nondescript backgrounds...

's work. When he started to command large sums for the sale of his works, Lowry purchased a number of paintings and sketches by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, and was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement,...

. Many of these works were portraits of Elizabeth Siddal
Elizabeth Siddal
Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal was an English artists' model, poet and artist who was painted and drawn extensively by artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including Walter Deverell, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and most of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's early paintings of women.-Early...

, Jane Morris
Jane Burden
Jane Morris was an English artists' model who embodied the Pre-Raphaelite ideal of beauty. She was a model and muse to the artists William Morris, whom she married, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.-Life:...

 and William Holman Hunt
William Holman Hunt
William Holman Hunt OM was an English painter, and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.-Biography:...

's muse Annie Miller
Annie Miller
Annie Miller was an English artists' model who, among others, sat for the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais. Her on-off relationship with Holman Hunt has been dramatised several times.-Early life:Annie Miller was born in...

. Lowry considered Rossetti to be his chief inspiration.

Although seen as a mostly solitary and private person, Lowry enjoyed attending football matches and was an ardent supporter
Manchester City F.C. supporters
Since their inception in 1880 as St. Mark's , Manchester City F.C have developed a loyal, passionate and dedicated fanbase.Despite finishing 5th in English football's top division, the club were the third best supported team in English football by average league attendance in the 2009–10 season and...

 of Manchester City Football Club.

Retirement


Lowry retired from the Pall Mall Property Company in 1952 on his 65th birthday (McLean, 1978). He became chief cashier but never stopped collecting rents. The firm supported his development as an artist and allowed time off for exhibitions in addition to his annual leave. It seems that he was not proud of his job; secrecy about his employment by the company is widely seen as a desire to present himself as a serious artist but the secrecy extended beyond the art world into his social circle.

Margery Thompson
Hilda Margery Clarke
Hilda Margery Clarke is an English painter and art gallery curator who was a friend and student of L. S. Lowry.Born in Manchester as the younger daughter of Frank Thompson, she met Lowry when she was aged 14...

 met him when she was a schoolgirl and he became part of her family circle. He attended concerts with her family and friends, visited her home and entertained her at his Pendlebury home, where he shared his knowledge of painting. They remained friends until his death, but he never told her that he had any work except his art. In the 1950s he visited friends at Cleator Moor
Cleator Moor
Cleator Moor is a small town and civil parish in the English county of Cumbria and within the boundaries of the traditional county of Cumberland....

 in Cumberland
Cumberland
Cumberland is a historic county of North West England, on the border with Scotland, from the 12th century until 1974. It formed an administrative county from 1889 to 1974 and now forms part of Cumbria....

 (where Geoffrey Bennett was the manager at the National Westminster Bank
National Westminster Bank
National Westminster Bank Plc, commonly known as NatWest, is the largest retail and commercial bank in the United Kingdom and has been part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc since 2000. The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is ranked as the second largest bank in the world by assets...

) and Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

 (where Margery Thompson had moved after her marriage). He painted pictures of the bank in Cleator Moor, Southampton Floating Bridge and other scenes local to his friends' homes.

In 1957 an unrelated 13-year-old schoolgirl called Carol Ann Lowry wrote to him at her mother's urging to ask his advice on becoming an artist. He visited her home in Heywood
Heywood, Greater Manchester
Heywood is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies on the south bank of the River Roch and is east of Bury, west-southwest of Rochdale, and north of the city of Manchester. The town of Middleton lies to the south, whilst to the north is the...

 and befriended the family. His friendship with Carol Ann Lowry lasted for the rest of his life.

Lowry joked about retiring from the art world, citing his lack of interest in the changing landscape. Instead, he began to focus on groups of figures and odd imaginary characters. Unknown to his friends and the public, Lowry produced a series of erotic works which were not seen until after his death. The paintings depict the mysterious "Ann
Portrait of Ann
Portrait of Ann is a painting by British artist L.S. Lowry . It is one of Lowry's most famous portraits and its subject appears in many Lowry works...

"
figure, who appears in portraits and sketches produced throughout his lifetime, enduring sexually-charged and humiliating tortures. When these works were exhibited at the Art Council's Centenary exhibition at the Barbican
Barbican
A barbican, from medieval Latin barbecana, signifying the "outer fortification of a city or castle," with cognates in the Romance languages A barbican, from medieval Latin barbecana, signifying the "outer fortification of a city or castle," with cognates in the Romance languages A barbican, from...

 in 1988, art critic Richard Dorment wrote in the Daily Telegraph that these works "reveal a sexual anxiety which is never so much as hinted at in the work of the previous 60 years."

Death and legacy




Lowry died of pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 at the Woods Hospital in Glossop
Glossop
Glossop is a market town within the Borough of High Peak in Derbyshire, England. It lies on the Glossop Brook, a tributary of the River Etherow, about east of the city of Manchester, west of the city of Sheffield. Glossop is situated near Derbyshire's county borders with Cheshire, Greater...

 on 23 February 1976 aged 88. He was buried in the Southern Cemetery
Southern Cemetery, Manchester
Southern Cemetery, Manchester is a large municipal cemetery in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Greater Manchester, England, three miles south of Manchester city centre: it was opened in 1879...

 in Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, next to his parents. He left estate valued at £298,459, and a considerable number of artworks by himself and others to Carol Ann Lowry, who, in 2001, obtained trademark protection of the artist's signature.

Lowry left a cultural legacy, his works often sold for millions of pounds and inspired other artists. The Lowry in Salford Quays
Salford Quays
Salford Quays is an area of Salford in Greater Manchester, England, near the end of the Manchester Ship Canal. Previously the site of Manchester Docks, it became one of the first and largest urban regeneration projects in the United Kingdom following the closure of the dockyards in...

 was opened in 2000 at a cost £106million; named after him, the 2000 square metres (21,527.8 sq ft) gallery houses 55 of his paintings and 278 drawings – the world's largest collection of his work – with up to 100 on display. In January 2005, a statue of him was unveiled in Mottram in Longdendale 100 yards away from his home from 1948 until his death in 1976. The statue has been a target for vandals since it was unveiled. In 2006 the Lowry Centre in Salford hosted a contemporary dance performance inspired by the works of Lowry.

Awards and honors


Lowry was awarded an honorary Master of Arts
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 degree, by the University of Manchester
University of Manchester
The University of Manchester is a public research university located in Manchester, United Kingdom. It is a "red brick" university and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive British universities and the N8 Group...

 in 1945, and Doctor of Letters
Doctor of Letters
Doctor of Letters is a university academic degree, often a higher doctorate which is frequently awarded as an honorary degree in recognition of outstanding scholarship or other merits.-Commonwealth:...

 in 1961. He was given the freedom of the city of Salford in 1965.
In 1975 he was awarded honorary Doctor of Letters degrees by the Universities of Salford
University of Salford
The University of Salford is a campus university based in Salford, Greater Manchester, England with approximately 20,000 registered students. The main campus is about west of Manchester city centre, on the A6, opposite the former home of the physicist, James Prescott Joule and the Working Class...

 and Liverpool
University of Liverpool
The University of Liverpool is a teaching and research university in the city of Liverpool, England. It is a member of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities and the N8 Group for research collaboration. Founded in 1881 , it is also one of the six original "red brick" civic...

. In 1964, the art world celebrated his 77th birthday with an exhibition of his work and that of 25 contemporary artists who had submitted tributes at Monk's Hall Museum, Eccles
Eccles, Greater Manchester
Eccles is a town in the City of Salford, a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester in North West England, west of Salford and west of Manchester city centre...

. The Hallé Orchestra performed a concert in his honour and Prime Minister, Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

, used Lowry's painting The Pond as his official Christmas card. Lowry's painting Coming Out of School was depicted on a postage stamp of highest denomination in a series issued by the Post Office depicting great British artists in 1968.

Lowry twice declined appointment to the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

: as an Officer (OBE) in 1955, and as a Commander (CBE) in 1961. He turned down a knighthood
Knight Bachelor
The rank of Knight Bachelor is a part of the British honours system. It is the most basic rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised Orders of Chivalry...

 in 1968, and appointment to the Order of the Companions of Honour
Order of the Companions of Honour
The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V in June 1917, as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion....

 (CH) in 1972 and 1976. He appears to hold the record for the most honours declined.

Quotations



On the industrial landscape:
  • "We went to Pendlebury in 1909 from a residential side of Manchester, and we didn't like it. My father wanted to go to get near a friend for business reasons. We lived next door, and for a long time my mother never got to like it, and at first I disliked it, and then after about a year or so I got used to it, and then I got absorbed in it, then I got infatuated with it. Then I began to wonder if anyone had ever done it. Seriously, not one or two, but seriously; and it seemed to me by that time that it was a very fine industrial subject matter. And I couldn't see anybody at that time who had done it - and nobody had done it, it seemed."
  • "Most of my land and townscape is composite. Made up; part real and part imaginary [...] bits and pieces of my home locality. I don't even know I'm putting them in. They just crop up on their own, like things do in dreams."


On his style:
  • "I wanted to paint myself into what absorbed me [...] Natural figures would have broken the spell of it, so I made my figures half unreal. Some critics have said that I turned my figures into puppets, as if my aim were to hint at the hard economic nescessities that drove them. To say the truth, I was not thinking very much about the people. I did not care for them in the way a social reformer does. They are part of a private beauty that haunted me. I loved them and the houses in the same way: as part of a vision.
  • "I am a simple man, and I use simple materials: ivory black, vermilion, prussian blue, yellow ochre, flake white and no medium. That's all I've ever used in my paintings. I like oils [...] I like a medium you can work into over a period of time."


On painting his 'Seascapes':
  • "It's the battle of life - the turbulence of the sea [...] I have been fond of the sea all my life, how wonderful it is, yet how terrible it is. But I often think [...] what if it suddenly changed its mind and didn't turn the tide? And came straight on? If it didn't stay and came on and on and on and on [...] That would be the end of it all."


On art:
  • "You don't need brains to be a painter, just feelings."
  • "I am not an artist. I am a man who paints."
  • "This art is a terrible business."

Works



During his life Lowry made about 1,000 paintings and over 8,000 drawings. The lists here are some of those that are considered to be particularly significant.

Selected paintings

  • 1906 Still Life — a bowl of fruit for the first evening classes
  • 1910 Clifton Junction Morning
  • 1912 Portrait of the Artist's Mother
  • 1917 Coming from the Mill — early example of what has become known as the Lowry style
  • 1919 Frank Jopling Fletcher — portrait demonstrating that Lowry's stylisation was a choice and not a consequence of any lack of skill
  • 1922 A Manufacturing Town — archetypal Lowry industrial landscape
  • 1922 Regent Street, Lytham — pastoral scene in sharp contrast to A Manufacturing Town
  • 1925 Self Portrait — a large-nosed young man (he would have been 38 years old) in a large flat cap
  • 1926 An Accident
  • 1927 Peel Park, Salford — an art gallery and museum that Lowry particularly liked and that held Salford's excellent collection of his work before the opening of the Lowry Centre
  • 1927 A view from the bridge
  • 1927 Coming Out of School — the first Lowry painting to be bought by the Tate Gallery
    Tate Gallery
    The Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art...

     by the Lord Duveen Fund
  • 1928 A Street Scene — the first Lowry painting to be bought by Salford City Art Gallery
  • 1928 Going to the Match — a crowd heading for a football match at Burnden Park
    Burnden Park
    Burnden Park was the home of English FA Premier League football club Bolton Wanderers who played home games here between 1895 and 1997. As well as hosting an FA Cup Final replay it was the scene of one of the greatest disasters in English football and the subject of an L. S...

    , Bolton
    Bolton
    Bolton is a town in Greater Manchester, in the North West of England. Close to the West Pennine Moors, it is north west of the city of Manchester. Bolton is surrounded by several smaller towns and villages which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, of which Bolton is the...

  • 1930 Coming from the Mill
  • 1934 The Empty House — an isolated house in grounds
  • 1935 A Fight
  • 1935 The Fever Van
  • 1936 Laying a Foundation Stone — the mayor of Swinton and Pendlebury
    Swinton and Pendlebury
    Swinton and Pendlebury was a local government district of the administrative county of Lancashire, England. It was created in 1894 as an urban district and enlarged in 1934, gaining the status of municipal borough.-Constituent civil parishes:...

    , laying a foundation stone in Clifton
    Clifton, Greater Manchester
    Clifton is a small town within the metropolitan borough of the City of Salford, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies in the Irwell Valley in the northern part of the City of Salford....

  • 1937 The Lake — an environmental nightmare against an industrial background
  • 1938 A Head of a Man — it has been suggested that this red-eyed man might be a portrait of Robert Lowry (who would be much older than the portrait suggests) or a form of self-portrait
  • 1940 The Bedroom – Pendlebury — his late mother's room
  • 1941 Barges on a Canal
  • 1941 Houses on a Hill
  • 1942 The Sea — a mournful painting off the Berwick
    Berwick-upon-Tweed
    Berwick-upon-Tweed or simply Berwick is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated 2.5 miles south of the Scottish border....

     coast
  • 1942 Blitzed Site — a man stands amidst the bombed ruins
  • 1943 Britain at Play — huge busy urban scene which clearly depicts St. Michael's Flags and Angel Meadow Park, Manchester
  • 1943 Going To Work — painted as a war artist
    War artist
    A war artist depicts some aspect of war through art; this might be a pictorial record or it might commemorate how "war shapes lives." War artists have explored a visual and sensory dimension of war which is often absent in written histories or other accounts of warfare.- Definition and context:A...

     and on show in the Imperial War Museum
    Imperial War Museum
    Imperial War Museum is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. The museum was founded during the First World War in 1917 and intended as a record of the war effort and sacrifice of Britain and her Empire...

    , London.
  • 1945 V.E. Day
  • 1946 The Park
  • 1946 Good Friday, Daisy Nook — sold for record price for a Lowry, in 2007, for £3.8 million
  • 1947 A River Bank — bought by Bury
    Bury
    Bury is a town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies on the River Irwell, east of Bolton, west-southwest of Rochdale, and north-northwest of the city of Manchester...

     Council for £150 in 1951, it was controversially sold by the Metropolitan Borough of Bury
    Metropolitan Borough of Bury
    The Metropolitan Borough of Bury is a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester, in North West England. Lying to the north of the City of Manchester, the borough is composed of six towns: Bury, Ramsbottom, Tottington, Radcliffe, Whitefield and Prestwich, and has a population of 181,900...

     in 2006 to fund a £10 million budget deficit for £1.25 million at a Christie's
    Christie's
    Christie's is an art business and a fine arts auction house.- History :The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in London, England, on 5 December 1766, and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766...

     auction
  • 1947 Iron Works
  • 1947 Cranes and Ships, Glasgow Docks — acquired by Glasgow City Council at Christie's
    Christie's
    Christie's is an art business and a fine arts auction house.- History :The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in London, England, on 5 December 1766, and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766...

     in November 2005 for £198,400, presently on display at the Kelvin Hall
    Kelvin Hall
    The Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, Scotland, is a mixed-use arts and sports venue that opened as an exhibition centre in 1927. It has been a music hall, indoor arena and barrage balloon factory, and is currently home to the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena and from 1987 to 2010, Glasgow's Museum of...

    , it was bought specifically for display in the new Riverside Museum
    Riverside Museum
    The Riverside Museum is a new development for the Glasgow Museum of Transport, completed on 20 June 2011, at Pointhouse Quay in the Glasgow Harbour regeneration district of Glasgow, Scotland. The next day it opened to the public.-Concept and design:...

  • 1949 The Canal Bridge
  • 1949 The Football Match — not seen in public for two decades before May 2011 when offered for sale at Christie's
    Christie's
    Christie's is an art business and a fine arts auction house.- History :The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in London, England, on 5 December 1766, and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766...

    ; later sold for a record £5.6m
  • 1950 The Pond — used as a Christmas card by prime minister Harold Wilson
    Harold Wilson
    James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

     in 1964
  • 1953 Football Ground — fans converging on Bolton Wanderers
    Bolton Wanderers F.C.
    Bolton Wanderers Football Club is an English professional association football club based in the area of Horwich in the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, Greater Manchester. They began their current spell in the Premier League in 2001....

    's old football ground Burnden Park
    Burnden Park
    Burnden Park was the home of English FA Premier League football club Bolton Wanderers who played home games here between 1895 and 1997. As well as hosting an FA Cup Final replay it was the scene of one of the greatest disasters in English football and the subject of an L. S...

    ; painted for a competition run by the Football Association
    The Football Association
    The Football Association, also known as simply The FA, is the governing body of football in England, and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. It was formed in 1863, and is the oldest national football association...

    , it was later renamed Going to the Match and was bought by the Professional Footballers' Association
    Professional Footballers' Association
    The Professional Footballers' Association is the trade union for professional footballers in England and Wales. The world's oldest professional sport trade union, it has 4,000 members....

     for a record £1.9 million in 1999
  • 1955 A Young Man — a haunted youth stares at the viewer
  • 1955 Industrial Landscape
  • 1956 The Floating Bridge — one of a pair owned by the City of Southampton, where the bridge operated until 1977
  • 1956 Factory at Widnes Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
    Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
    The Christchurch Art Gallery, with the formal name of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, is the public art gallery of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. It is funded by Christchurch City Council. It has its own substantial art collection and presents a programme of New Zealand and...

    , Christchurch
    Christchurch
    Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country's second-largest urban area after Auckland. It lies one third of the way down the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula which itself, since 2006, lies within the formal limits of...

    , New Zealand
  • 1957 Man Lying on a Wall — note the gentle joke that the man's briefcase bears the initials 'LSL'
  • 1957 Portrait of Ann — a fiction
  • 1959 On the Sands — oil on canvas
  • 1960 Gentleman Looking at Something
  • 1961 River Wear at Sunderland — one of Lowry's favoured holiday destinations
  • 1962 Two People
  • 1963 The Sea — typically understated seascape
    Seascape
    A seascape is a photograph, painting, or other work of art which depicts the sea, in other words an example of marine art. By a backwards development, the word has also come to mean the view of the sea itself, and be applied in planning contexts to geographical locations possessing a good view of...

  • 1965 Industrial Scene
  • 1967 Tanker entering the Tyne

Drawings

  • 1908 Head from the Antique — very accurately observed
  • 1914 Seated Male Nude — realistic rendition with no trace of 'matchstick men'
  • 1919 Robert Lowry — the artist's father
  • 1920 The Artist's Mother
  • 1931 Pendlebury Scene
  • 1936 Dewars Lane
    Dewars Lane
    Dewar’s Lane is an alley of medieval origin in the centre of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Over the centuries, heavy cart-wheels have cut deep grooves in its setts. Once painted by the artist L. S. Lowry, it fell into an extreme state of dilapidation, overrun with pigeons and seagulls...

     — Lowry Trail in Berwick
  • 1942 A Bit of Wenlock Edge
    Wenlock Edge
    Wenlock Edge is a limestone escarpment near Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England. It is long and runs from South West to North East between Craven Arms and Much Wenlock. It is roughly 330 metres high...

  • 1956 Berwick Pier and Lighthouse
  • 1957 Woman with Beard — a woman Lowry saw on a train
  • 1958 The Elms — Lowry's house in Mottram-in-Longdendale
  • 1961 Colliery, Sunderland
  • 1969 The Front, Hartlepool
  • undated Palace street Berwick
    Berwick-upon-Tweed
    Berwick-upon-Tweed or simply Berwick is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated 2.5 miles south of the Scottish border....

  • undated The Match

Stolen Lowry works


Five Lowry art works were stolen from the Grove Fine Art Gallery in Cheadle Hulme
Cheadle Hulme
Cheadle Hulme is an area of the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, in Greater Manchester, England. It is southwest of Stockport and southeast of the city of Manchester. It lies in the Ladybrook Valley on the Cheshire Plain, and the drift consists mostly of boulder clay, sands and gravels...

, Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

 on 2 May 2007. The most valuable were The Viaduct, estimated value of £700,000 and The Tanker Entering the Tyne, which is valued at over £500,000. The Surgery, The Bridge at Ringley and The Street Market were also stolen.

Collections


Lowry's work is held in many public and private collections. The largest collection is held by Salford City Council and displayed at the Lowry Centre. Its collection has about 350 paintings and drawings. X-ray analysis has revealed hidden figures under his drawings - the 'Ann' figures. "Going to the Match" is owned by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and is on display at the Lowry Centre.

The Tate Gallery
Tate Gallery
The Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art...

 in London owns 23 works. The City of Southampton owns The Floating Bridge, The Canal Bridge and An Industrial Town. His work is also featured at MOMA
Moma
Moma may refer to:* Moma , an owlet moth genus* Moma Airport, a Russian public airport* Moma District, Nampula, Mozambique* Moma River, a right tributary of the Indigirka River* Google Moma, the Google corporate intranet...

, in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
The Christchurch Art Gallery, with the formal name of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, is the public art gallery of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. It is funded by Christchurch City Council. It has its own substantial art collection and presents a programme of New Zealand and...

 in Christchurch
Christchurch
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country's second-largest urban area after Auckland. It lies one third of the way down the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula which itself, since 2006, lies within the formal limits of...

, New Zealand has a Lowry work in its collection, "Factory at Widnes" (1956). The painting was one of the gallery’s most important acquisitions of the 1950s and remains the highlight of its collection of modern British art.

Tributes

  • To mark the centenary of his birth, Royston Futter, director of the L. S. Lowry Centenary Festival on behalf of the City of Salford and the BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

     commissioned the Northern Ballet Theatre
    Northern Ballet Theatre
    Northern Ballet, formerly Northern Ballet Theatre, is a dance company based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, with a strong repertoire in theatrical dance productions where the emphasis is on story telling as well as classical ballet...

     and Gillian Lynne
    Gillian Lynne
    Gillian Barbara Lynne , CBE, born , is a British ballerina, dancer, actor, theatre director, television director and choreographer noted for her popular theatre choreography associated with the iconic musicals Cats and the current longest running show in Broadway history, The Phantom of the Opera.-...

     to create a dance drama in his honour. A Simple Man was choreographed and directed by Lynne, with music by Carl Davis
    Carl Davis
    Carl Davis CBE is an American born conductor and composer who has made his home in the UK since 1961. In 1970 he married the English actress Jean Boht....

     and starred Christopher Gable
    Christopher Gable
    Christopher Gable, CBE was an English ballet dancer, choreographer, and actor.Born in London, Gable studied at the Royal Ballet School, joining the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet in 1957...

     and Moira Shearer
    Moira Shearer
    Moira Shearer, Lady Kennedy , was an internationally famous Scottish ballet dancer and actress.-Early life:She was born Moira Shearer King in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, the daughter of actor Harold V. King...

     (in her last dance role) and it won a BAFTA award as the best arts programme in 1987. It was subsequently transferred to the stage and first performed in Manchester in 1987 and in London at Sadler's Wells in 1988.
  • In February 2011 a bronze statue of Lowry was installed in the basement of his favourite pub, Sam's Chop House.

In popular culture

  • In January 1968 the rock band Status Quo paid tribute to Lowry in their single "Pictures of Matchstick Men
    Pictures of Matchstick Men
    "Pictures of Matchstick Men" is the first hit single by Status Quo, released in November 1967. It reached number seven in the British charts, number eight in Canada, and number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming their only hit single in the United States...

    " which reached number seven in the British charts
    UK Singles Chart
    The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

    , number eight in Canada, and number twelve on the US Billboard Hot 100
    Billboard Hot 100
    The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

    .
  • In 1978, two years after his death, duo Brian and Michael
    Brian and Michael
    Brian & Michael are a British music duo best known for their 1978 UK number one hit single, "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs". Without further chart entries, they remain one-hit wonders in the UK...

     from Manchester, England hit number one in the UK pop charts with their only hit, the Lowry tribute Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs. Written by Ancoats
    Ancoats
    Ancoats is an inner city area of Manchester, in North West England, next to the Northern Quarter and the northern part of Manchester's commercial centre....

    -born Michael Coleman and produced by Kevin Parrott, the record sold 750,000 copies.
  • Terry Gilliam
    Terry Gilliam
    Terrence Vance "Terry" Gilliam is an American-born British screenwriter, film director, animator, actor and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. Gilliam is also known for directing several films, including Brazil , The Adventures of Baron Munchausen , The Fisher King , and 12 Monkeys...

    's 1985 dystopian fantasy film
    Fantasy film
    Fantasy films are films with fantastic themes, usually involving magic, supernatural events, make-believe creatures, or exotic fantasy worlds. The genre is considered to be distinct from science fiction film and horror film, although the genres do overlap...

     Brazil
    Brazil (film)
    Brazil is a 1985 British science fiction fantasy/black comedy film directed by Terry Gilliam. It was written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard and stars Jonathan Pryce. The film also features Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, and Ian Holm...

    pays homage to Lowry through both the incorporation of 'Lowryesque' cityscapes and the name of its chief protagonist (Sam Lowry).
  • The Manchester rock band Oasis
    Oasis (band)
    Oasis were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1991. Originally known as The Rain, the group was formed by Liam Gallagher , Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs , Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan and Tony McCarroll , who were soon joined by Liam's older brother Noel Gallagher...

     paid tribute to Lowry by releasing a music video for the single "The Masterplan
    The Masterplan (song)
    "The Masterplan" is a song by English rock band Oasis. It was written by lead guitarist, Noel Gallagher.The song was first released as a B-side to the CD version of their hit single "Wonderwall" in October 1995. "The Masterplan" was also released with the Stop the Clocks EP in November 2006...

    " in October 2006 which uses Lowry style animation.
  • Burberry
    Burberry
    Burberry Group plc is a British luxury fashion house, manufacturing clothing, fragrance, and fashion accessories. Its distinctive tartan pattern has become one of its most widely copied trademarks. Burberry is most famous for its iconic trench coat, which was invented by founder Thomas Burberry...

     designer Christopher Bailey
    Christopher Bailey (fashion designer)
    Christopher Bailey is Chief Creative Officer of Burberry, and is responsible for the company’s overall image including all advertising, corporate art direction, store design and visuals as well as the design of all Burberry collections and product lines.Bailey, who was 38 in 2009, was born in...

     drew influences from Lowry's work for his autumn/winter 2008-09 collection.
  • Shelley Rohde
    Shelley Rohde
    Gillian Shelley Mary Rohde was a British journalist and author. She was best known in the North West of England as a reporter and presenter on Granada Reports, but she is more widely remembered as the biographer of the artist L. S...

     is known to have completed a one-man-play about the artist for which Christopher Eccleston
    Christopher Eccleston
    Christopher Eccleston is an English stage, film and television actor. His films include Let Him Have It, Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, 28 Days Later, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Others, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra...

     was at one time engaged to perform. However, following her death in December 2007 it is unclear whether the play will be produced.
  • In August 2010 Figures Half Unreal, an immersive theatre piece on Lowry, was performed in a semi-derelict house in Berwick-upon-Tweed, a town the artist used to visit regularly.

External links


Complete illustrated details of L.S. Lowry's published works http://www.lowry.co.uk