Laurence Stephen Lowry’s extraordinary standing and popularity owe everything to his reputation as an urban realist, a painter of mill towns populated with a myriad of ‘stick’ figures. In truth, for more than a third of his career he had left the urban scenes behind and turned to more solitary subjects, reflecting perhaps his own loneliness. Lowry was born in Manchester to relatively prosperous parents, who in 1909, moved to the industrial district of Pendlebury.
He studied at Manchester and Salford Schools of Art until 1928, whilst working as a clearly very sympathetic rent collector, one of Lowry’s teachers being Pierre Adolphe Valette (1876-1942). From 1932 Lowry exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and in 1934 was elected RBA. 1939 saw his first one-man exhibition and sadly the death of his mother with whom he had lived, his father having died in 1932. Lowry stayed in Pendlebury until 1948, then moved to Mottram in Longdendale, Cheshire, which from all accounts he disliked, and where he died in 1976. Lowry was belatedly elected ARA in 1955 and RA in 1962. Lowry was perhaps surprisingly, a great admirer of the Pre-Raphaelites; he owned works by Dante Gabriel Charles Rossetti (1828-1882) and Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893), and works by Lucien Freud (b.1922).
His early work owes something to an Anglicised form of impressionism, while his industrial scenes, far from being naïve or primitive, show careful observation and character, the work of an artist who studied at art school a considerable time. Without question Lowry is a unique artist, his works a product of his environment and character, one of the great names in 20th century British art.
His works can be found in museums in: London, Tate Britain; Manchester; Nottingham; Salford and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.