Cornwater Fine Art Gallery - Specialist dealers to the trade and retail in original paintings and signed prints by L.S. Lowry, David Shepherd and Russell Flint.

L. S. Lowry, biography, life, history

Laurence Stephen Lowry painted not only northern scenes; He visited the south coast looking for ships and ferries to paint. On one of these trips he visited Winchester where he observed a bearded lady pushing a perambulator. Lowry started to sketch the woman who strongly objected and used all sorts of foul language to let Lowry know it! Lowry recalled this moment and he was even more amazed that this happened in Winchester of all places!

LS Lowry was born 1st November 1887, He had his first job in 1904 where he "drifted into" office work as a clerk with a Manchester accountant. There is a drawing surviving "yachts" 1902, His employment allowed him to take private tuition in art, this accounts for some still life drawings of around 1906-1914. He also went to the Manchester College of Art at All Saints for evening classes from 1905, he is quoted "I saw people there, I liked the life. It was good to meet people there". The books write of Lowry as "having a temperament" and loving a lonely life, unsociable, he did not fit in, he moved in art circles, he was not good at still life, teachers found him impossible. The influence of his teachers come through in paintings "Landscape" 1912 and "Country Lane" 1914. Financial hardship hit the Lowrys and they had to move down from respectable Victoria Park to Pendlebury.

This was very upsetting for his parents who had worked hard, this was seen by them as failure.

Industrial Artist

In Pendlebury Lowry started to notice industry, the "thump thump thump" of steam hammers, the mills with the incessant "clackerty clack" of the shuttle on the loom, he noticed the rows of cottages leading to the big red mill at Acme. This was the turning point when Lowry knew he had to paint. The date now is about 1912, he had become a rent collector for the Pall Mall Property Company.

One can imagine the slice of life that this job gave him, calling on the poorer homes with large families, seeing life at ground level.
He worked as a rent collector until he retired in 1952. He joined Salford School of Art for evening classes in 1915, this is where he studied his work and the match stick figures developed.

Although Lowry is well known for his crowded match stick and industrial pictures most, It must be remembered that there are many still life, country scenes and seascapes. In 1928 he stopped attending art school. His father died in 1932 leaving debts, his mother was bed ridden and Lowry had to care for her, he worked by day and painted by night, using the years of observation of people. He became a very withdrawn person. Lowry had some exhibitions but no real success as an artist. In fact Lowry's greatest regret was that his mother died in 1939 just as he became recognized by the art world. Pendlebury was grim, 117 Station Road still stands, still darkened by industrial grime (so the books say). This was the age of smog, deep heavy smoke and fog that would linger for weeks. Everything would be gray. There were many industrial injuries.

The second world war broke out. This did not seem to affect Lowry much. He did some duties as a fire watcher in Manchester.
He got an invite to become a war artist and painted going to work. With out his family, lowry lost heart, the house fell into dis-repair and he left Pendlebury in 1948 when the landlord re-possessed the house.
He then moved to Mottram-in-Longdendale, Cheshire. On the more human side, Lowry apparently collected clocks in his living room, but they all told different times. When asked, he reportedly said that he didn't want to know the real time. He bought what is described as an "ugly stone built house" called The Elms. he lived here until he died in 1976.

Retirement

Lowry retired from the Pall Mall Property Company in 1952,He had been supported by the firm and was a trusted member of staff, they allowed him time off for exhibitions. In retirement he was free he continued to travel draw and paint. Lowry wanted to be taken seriously about his art. He did not want anyone to know that he worked for the Pall Mall Property Co. this was not revealed to the general public until he died.

During his life Lowry had painted and drawn some 2000-3000 pieces. Harold Wilson had offered him a knighthood and had used "The Pond" as his official christmas card in 1964. Lowry had been on a first day cover, the stamp "Coming Out of School" was the highest value stamp in a series depicting great British artists in 1967. In 1977 Michael Colman & Brian Burke wrote the hit single "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk cats and dogs" (matchstick or matchstalk?) Lowry had no wife or family. He left his estate to a lady he first met in 1957.
Carol Lowry, then a 13 year old school girl, wrote to her namesake asking for advice on how to progress to become an artist. Without any warning Lowry turned up on her doorstep! They became friends. It was a total shock to Carol when 19 years later lowry left her his estate. Lowry died in 1976, at the age of 88. The Royal Academy held a Memorial Exhibition of his work in 1976; The President of The Royal Academy , Sir Hugh Casson, referred to Lowry as 'one of the greatest English painters of this century'.

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