Lowry was always irritated by people who thought he was an amateur painter, self-taught and untutored. “Started when I was fifteen. Don’t know why. Aunt said I was no good for anything else, so they might as well send me to Art School…”
L.S. Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976) was a curious character, dedicated to his art but always restrained by the Industrial movement that he portrayed. Lowry was a rent-collector with Pall Mall Property Company in Manchester until his retirement in 1952, and painted only in his spare time. Despite this restraint, he was hugely successful even within his lifetime; the Manchester City Art Gallery purchased An Accident in 1930, he was signed up to the Lefevre Gallery in London in 1939, he was elected an R.A. in 1962 and by 1967, the General Post Office issued a stamp reproducing one of his paintings. Lowry had been appointed official artist at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He went on to turn down an O.B.E., a C.B.E., a C.H. (twice) and a knighthood on the grounds that he saw little point in receiving awards after the death of his mother.
Throughout his life he painted idealised pictures of a female figure called Ann, and there continues to be much speculation about her identity. Some say she was a real person, and there are even eye-witness accounts of her visiting the artist in a Rolls Royce. But it is most likely that she was a figure of his imagination, perhaps someone who might have been if he had not lived at home with his mother until she died when he was in his fifties.
Best known, of course, are his pictures of industrial landscapes, populated with dozens of human figures. His seascapes are also impressive. But my own favourite is this picture of a Man Looking at Something.