A painter famous for his cityscapes of Manchester and Salford, Laurence Stephen Lowry has come to be one of the names most synonymous with the city. During the decline of its industrial heyday, Lowry’s depictions of life in the North West’s industrial areas and his matchstick men developed into a style unique to the painter. While his work was contemporaneously eschewed, posterity has remembered, celebrated and lauded his work. In today’s feature, we take a look at this doyen of Manchester’s artistic legacy.
Lowry was born in Stretford, today part of Greater Manchester. He described his childhood as difficult and spoke of growing up in a repressive atmosphere. His mother was a demanding authoritarian while his father maintained a stand-offish approach. Born in Stretford, Lowry spent his early years in Victoria Park, Rusholme, until his family were forced to move to the industrial environs of Pendlebury due to financial pressures. It was here that he encountered the textile mills, factories and chimneys that provided the inspiration for what became his iconic style, cityscapes depicting the industrial settings of Manchester and Salford.
Lowry was educated at the Manchester School of Art, under the tutelage of French Impressionist Pierre Adolphe Valette. In 1915 Lowry proceeded to the Royal Technical Institute of Salford, which today stands as the University of Salford. His work was affected by the full-time care for his bedridden mother that was forced to provide. Lowry remained an active member of Manchester artistic circuit, while he failed to receive much renown during his lifetime.
Lowry died in 1976, leaving his legacy to Carol Ann Lowry. Today, the Lowry Art Gallery at Salford Quays stands in his honour. His works are valued in the millions of pounds and in June 2013 a retrospective opened at the Tate Britain in London, in his honour.