L. S. Lowry

Orfeas Katsoulis | Jul 5, 2023

Table of Content


Lawrence Stephen Lowry (1 November 1887, Stratford, Lancashire, England - 23 February 1976, Glossop, Derbyshire, Great Britain) - British artist, master of urban landscape and genre scenes, portrait painter.

Laurie began as an amateur painter, but gradually gained recognition at home and in Europe, became an academician of the Royal Academy of Arts (1962), an honorary doctor of sciences of the universities of Manchester, Salford. In 2000 the Laurie Center was opened in Salford at a cost of £106 million. Named after the artist, the 2,000-square-meter gallery houses 55 of his paintings and 278 drawings in permanent display - the world's largest collection of his work

Childhood and Family

Born Nov. 1, 1887, at 8 Barrett Street, Stretford, Lancashire (other sources say Manchester, Old Trafford), Laurie was the only child of Robert and Elizabeth Laurie (née Hobson). His mother, Elizabeth Laurie, was raised in an affluent cultured family, she dreamed of having a daughter, later speaking of envy of her sister Mary, who had "three splendid daughters" rather than one "clumsy boy." Laurie's father, Robert, came from Northern Ireland, was orphaned as a child and had to overcome serious hardships because of it. He worked as a clerk for the Jacob Earnshaw and Son Property Company, and was introverted in character. Laurie once described him as a "cold fish.

The artist later perceived his childhood as the most unhappy time of his life. His mother dreamed of a career as a pianist, became ill and was forced to give up teaching music, which was her profession. Nervous and irritable, she used her illnesses to assert herself in the family, completely subjugating her husband. He had few friends at school, and Lauri himself showed little aptitude for learning. Lauri's cousin, May, described the artist's childhood differently. When the boy was 11 years old, the family moved into a house on Pine Grove, in the upscale suburb of Victoria Park). From then on, the family's home life was subordinated to the need to maintain a level of external comfort appropriate to the home while the couple's income was modest. Laurie, according to May, was "very spoiled ... His mother adored him. The family was surrounded by a small circle of relatives and friends, and she was involved in the church life of the community: Robert was a believer, and his religious beliefs were shared by Elizabeth, who instilled faith in her son. Laurie and his mother spent summers on the Welsh coast and the Lancashire coast, where his father sometimes joined them.

Teaching painting

From 1905 to 1915 Laurie studied painting at Manchester Community College of Art (first in the preparatory evening department and later in the class of the French impressionist painter Pierre Adolphe Valette, whose strong influence on shaping his conception of art he later noted). In 1907, on Valette's advice, Lowry began taking private lessons with the American portrait painter William "Billy" Fitz (circa 1880-1915) and studied with him until Fitz's death in 1915. Fitz specialized in portraits of the British middle class; researchers see the results of his influence on the young artist in Laurie's own portraits. Laurie did not serve in the British army during World War I, even after universal conscription was introduced in 1916. Lauri later attributed this to some psychological and emotional problems.

Laurie then took evening courses at the School of Art in Salford, which was part of the Royal Technical Institute, where he studied for ten years (1915-1925). These classes were not regular. In 1918 he also attended classes at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts for a while.

From Amateur Artist to Recognition

In 1909, due to material difficulties, the family was forced to move from the respectable Rasholm neighborhood near the suburb of Victoria Park, where students usually lived, to industrial Pendlebury, where factory buildings predominated.

Due to the serious financial difficulties associated with his mother's serious illness, Laurie was unable to make art his profession. At the age of 15, he was forced to quit school and begin working as a clerk in the office of Thomas Alfred & son, Chartered Accountants. From 1910 until his retirement in 1952, he worked for the Pall Mall Property Company, where his responsibility was to collect rent from tenants. "I owe a lot to my tenants. I inhabited my paintings with them," the artist wrote. In 1921, Laurie submitted works to his first public collective exhibition in the office of Manchester architect Roland Thomasson. Although none of Laurie's paintings were sold, Bernard D. Taylor, who had been his teacher at the Salford School of Art, wrote an enthusiastic review in the city newspaper, the Manchester Guardian. That same year Laurie sold his first pastel for £5.

Gradually the recognition of the artist's work grew: from 1927 he participated regularly in exhibitions of the New English Art Club, from 1928 - in the Autumn Salons in Paris, in 1930 and 1931 his paintings were purchased by the Manchester Art Gallery and the Tate Gallery. His father died in 1932, leaving him in debt; it was in that year that Laurie first presented his work at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and in an exhibition at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. His mother, subject to neurosis and depression, found herself bedridden and totally dependent on her son. Many of the paintings produced during this period show the influence of Expressionism and may have been inspired by the work of Vincent Van Gogh, whose exhibition was held at the Manchester Art Gallery in 1931, although this connection seems artificial to some art historians. The series of portraits by Laurie, tentatively called "Horrible Heads," dates back to this time.

After his mother's death in October 1939, Laurie himself became depressed and was close to suicide. By 1948 he had run down his apartment in Pendlebury and was forced to move out at the insistence of his landlord. He managed, on the advice of a friend, to purchase a small Elm House in Mottram in Longdendale, which was spacious enough for the artist to set up his studio in the dining room and house the collection of china and clocks he had inherited from his mother. Although Laurie always found the house ugly and uncomfortable, he lived in it until his death for a full 28 years.

Laurie retired from the Pall Mall Property Company in 1952 on his 65th birthday. By this time he had become the company's chief cashier. Retirement allowed the artist to concentrate entirely on painting.

Laurie died of pneumonia at Woods Hospital in Glossop, Derbyshire, on February 23, 1976, at the age of 88. He is buried in South Cemetery. Laurie left an estate worth £298,459 and his collection of artwork, created by himself or other artists, to his friend Carol Ann Laurie. Seven months later, a major retrospective exhibition of his work opened at the Royal Academy in London. It caused an extraordinary stir and attracted more than 350,000 visitors.

"He belongs to no school, but may eventually become the founder of his own school," the critic Eric Newton wrote in his catalog of the artist's work. During the war years, Laurie was officially commissioned as a war artist and, in 1953, commissioned to paint the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In the following years the artist was elected an associate member of the Royal Academy of Arts (1955) and then of its academy (1962) and received a number of honorary titles and honorary doctorates from the universities of Manchester, Salford and Liverpool.

Laurie twice refused to be awarded the Order of the British Empire - 4th (OBE) in 1955 and 2nd Class (CBE) in 1961. He refused to be knighted in 1968 and refused the Order of the Cavaliers of Honor in 1972 and 1976. The artist is considered the record holder for the number of refusals of honorary titles.

The largest collection of Laurie's paintings belongs to Salford City Council and is represented in its museum (about 400 works). The Tate Gallery in London owns 23 works by the artist. The City of Southampton owns three of his paintings. His works are represented in the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Christchurch Art Gallery, in the collection of the Manchester Art Gallery, a large number of the artist's works are in private collections.

In March 2014, fifteen works by Laurie from the collection of A. J. Thompson were sold at an auction at Sotheby's in London. The total amount from the sale was £15,240,500 (the Piccadilly Square painting alone sold for £5,122,000). Thompson, the owner of a racing stable whose horses have repeatedly won the most prestigious races, has collected exclusively Laurie's paintings since 1982. The painting Football Match set the all-time price record for Laurie's work, selling for £5.6 million at auction.

Laurie was a secretive but mischievous man who enjoyed the irony of the people around him and stories about his own past, much of the content of which was fictional.

The artist had several devoted friends in the art world, but from the 1950s he began to gravitate toward the company of people he did not know well. During his lifetime his name was surrounded by speculation because of the artist's secretive nature and lifestyle. He was never married and before his death confessed that he had "never been in a close relationship with a woman." Laurie avoided visits from his admirers. It is said that at the artist's home in Mottram, where he lived for the last 30 years of his life, there was always a suitcase ready at the door so that he could escort a guest out on the pretext that he was going to leave before he arrived. There are various explanations for the artist's recluse. Professor Michael Fitzgerald, a Dublin psychiatrist, for example, believes that Laurie was autistic. Other researchers believe that the artist built a kind of emotional wall in front of the outside world as a consequence of criticism of his actions and rejection by his mother.

Lauri loved soccer and was an ardent fan of the Manchester City club. He owned several paintings depicting the game. One of Laurie's paintings depicts the match between Manchester City and Sheffield United and is unusual for his work in general. Laurie rarely depicted an identifiable event, and this painting reflects an actual match in the second division of the British Championship, which took place on October 22, 1938, and ended 3-2. The artist concentrates on the crowd of fans rather than on the players, who are not even depicted on the canvas.

In 1957, Lawrence received a letter from a 13-year-old schoolgirl, Carol Ann Lowry, who asked him for advice on how to become an artist. Laurie visited the girl and became friends with her. It was Carol Ann artist bequeathed his estate and his collection of paintings. Carol Anne has always denied any sexual connotations of her relationship with the artist, although she admitted that he constantly took her to the ballet, to restaurants, the two of them (even when she was only 15) went on holiday by the sea in a hotel in Sunderland.

Painting was for a long time a hobby for Lauri (he devoted his evenings, part of his nights and weekends to it). The artist himself believed that the turning point in his work, when he found his theme and his unique style, was an episode he experienced in 1916, when he missed the train to Manchester. "As I was leaving the station, I noticed the Acme Spinning Company building - a huge black box with rows of glowing yellow windows against a sad, wet afternoon sky... rows of little cottages... - and suddenly I knew that I must write."

During his life Lauri produced about 1,000 paintings and more than 8,000 drawings. Initially his paintings were inspired by Impressionist motifs, but too dark in color. On the advice of his teacher, D. B. Taylor, he began using a lighter, almost white background. His main subject was landscapes of industrial cities: factories, mines, churches, schools, stadiums, streets deserted and filled with passersby, a line at a store, a soccer game. The human figures in the artist's paintings are splinters, matches, forming chaotic patterns on the canvas. Buildings are usually depicted in shades of gray and brown, their shape simplified to primitive geometric figures. A key theme of the artist's work was the loneliness of man. He said, "All my people are lonely, and crowds are the loneliest things."

In later years, Laurie would spend his vacations at the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland, County Durham, painting views of local beaches. Laurie always stayed in room 104, except on the rare occasions when it was already occupied. He enjoyed the spectacular view of the sea. When he didn't have sketch paper, Laurie would draw scenes in pencil or charcoal on the back of envelopes, napkins, and closet tickets and give them to friends and sometimes casual acquaintances. Such napkins now cost up to £10,000.

Despite his reputation as an amateur Sunday painter, Lawrence Stephen was quite well versed in the trends of 19th- and 20th-century painting. By the end of his life, when he was already financially secure, Laurie's personal collection included paintings by Honoré Daumier and Lucien Freud, and a large number of women's portraits by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Laurie and the "Ann" image

At the end of his life, the artist concentrated on depicting strange fictional characters, and created a series of erotic works that were unknown even to specialists until his death. These paintings depict the mysterious character "Anne," who had appeared occasionally before - in portraits and sketches created throughout his life, but now subjected to cruel sexually oriented and humiliating torture. When these works were shown at an exhibition at the Barbican Cultural Center in 1988, art historian Richard Dorment noted in The Daily Telegraph that these works "show the sexual arousal" of the artist. This group of erotic works (they depict doll-like girls with accentuated breast shapes and high, tight collar-collars cutting into their faces, the collars looking like narrow tubes squeezing their victims' throats), sometimes referred to as "mannequin sketches" or "puppet images," are kept at the Laurie Center, works available to visitors only by special request. Only a few are on display in the Center's exhibit, which is open to the public. Howard Jacobson has argued that these images would change the public perception of his widely known works if they were all made widely known to the public.

The art historian Michael Howard wrote a monograph on Laurie in 1999. In his opinion, Lauri admired artists such as René Magritte and Balthus, and saw his own work in the context of theirs. He drew inspiration from Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author. He painted at night, to the music of arias by Gaetano Donizetti or Vincenzo Bellini. The art historian writes of Lauri's obsessive attention to his sadistic works. He befriended teenage girls who had ambitions of becoming artists, giving them painting lessons. Some of these girls were about 12 years old, all with dark hair and dark eyes. Carol Ann Lowry was just one of these girls. Long before he met Carol Ann, Laurie often told friends about his "Ann"; Laurie claimed that he supposedly knew "Ann" well, mentioning that she had died when she was still young. He seemed obsessed with her and painted her over and over again (the images were remotely similar to Dante Gabriel Rossetti's portraits of Jane Morris, which Laurie collected; "I don't like his women at all," Laurie said, "but they fascinate me like a snake").

Laurie said that Ann was 25 years old at the time of her death, lived in Leeds and was "the daughter of some people with whom he was well acquainted. According to another version, Anne was his goddaughter and her name was Anne Hilde (or Helder). According to some art historians, Anne never really existed. In some respects thirteen-year-old Carol Ann Lowry became identified in the artist's mind with "Ann" existing only in the artist's imagination, just as other girls had previously been identified with her image for the aging artist. Carol Ann wrote of Lawrence Stephen Lowry: "more than my father or my mother or anyone else. He created me ... in the image of 'Ann. Laurie gave the girl, as she herself said, "not just material gifts, but gifts of character and education." She called him "Uncle Laurie," and confessed that she never had any reason to think or speak of him other than with respect and love. She did not learn of Laurie's sadistic drawings until after his death.

"The previously unknown drawings certainly shocked me when I first saw them," Carol Ann admits many years later, "especially since he behaved toward me always like an uncle or grandfather. But if he didn't want them to be shown, he would have destroyed them." Carol Ann herself attributes these images to Laurie's fascination with Leo Delibes' ballet Coppelia, whose protagonist is a life-size mechanical doll. She suspects that the artist had a deep-seated desire to control her in the same way. "He was very fond of this ballet and took me to it many times ... I often wondered why he took me so many times and I think it was because he wanted to control me like a puppet," she explains. There is another version of these images. According to it, Laurie was born in the Victorian era and during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, being already an old man, was shocked by how much society was changing around him, these changes awakened the dark side of his personality.

The problem of tampering with an artist's work

Laurie's works are considered easy to forge. In July 2015, three of his paintings, Lady with Dogs, Darby and Joan, and The Crowd, were featured on the BBC television program "Fake or Lucky? The program brought in experts to determine whether the paintings were authentic or fakes. The works in question were bought in the 1960s by businessman Gerald Ames, but their provenance was questionable, and experts noted that Laurie was "probably the most 'fake' British artist, his deceptively simple painting style making him a convenient target for forgers." Laurie himself claimed to have used only five colors in his work: lead white, ivory, vermilion, Prussian blue and yellow ochre, all from the manufacturer Winsor & Newton, but expert analysis of the paint used in Darby and Joan showed that it contained traces of zinc white. Nevertheless, the program showed a photograph of Laurie's studio in the 1950s showing that he had both titanium and zinc whitewash. All three works were declared authentic by a whole group of experts, and the total value of the paintings was estimated at the time at more than £200,000.

Laurie left a significant cultural legacy, his work often selling for millions of pounds and inspiring other artists. The £106 million Loughrey Center in Salford opened in 2000. Named after the artist, the 2,000-square-meter gallery houses a permanent display of 55 of his paintings and 278 drawings, the largest collection of his work in the world. In January 2005, a sculptural image of him (on a bench, waiting for a bus to arrive) was unveiled at Mottram in Longdendale, a site about 100 yards from his home. The statue has been a target for vandals since its unveiling.

In January 1968 the British rock band Status Quo paid tribute to Lowry in their first hit single "Pictures of Matchstick Men. The duo Brian & Michael became famous in 1978 with the song "Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs," the musicians dedicated it to their countryman Lawrence Stephen Lowry, who had passed away two years earlier. The Manchester rock band Oasis released a music video for the song "The Masterplan," using animation in the style of Lowry's paintings. In August 2010 the play "Figures Half Unreal" was performed by the Brass Bastion Theater Company in Beric-upon-Tuid, where Lauri was a regular visitor.

Royston Futter, director of the Laurie Centennial Festival, commissioned the Northern Ballet Theatre and Gillian Lynn, on behalf of the City of Salford and the BBC, to produce a dance drama in his honor, A Simple Man. It was directed by Lynn with music by Carl Davis. The drama won a BAFTA award in 1987.

In February 2011 a bronze statue of Laurie was installed in the basement of his favorite pub. In October 2013 a retrospective exhibition of Laurie was held in London.


  1. L. S. Lowry
  2. Лаури, Лоуренс Стивен
  3. https://www.trafford.gov.uk/residents/leisure-and-lifestyle/libraries/blue-plaques-in-stretford.aspx
  4. 1 2 https://artuk.org/discover/artists/lowry-laurence-stephen-18871976#
  5. ^ "L.S. Lowry | British painter". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  6. ^ "LS Lowry rare Seaburn seascape sells for more than £1m". BBC News. 15 October 2022.
  7. ^ Jones, Jonathan (18 April 2011). "L. S. Lowry: The original grime artist". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  8. Osoba, której zadaniem obowiązkiem było obserwowanie pożarów wywoływanych przez bomby spadające z powietrza w czasie II wojny światowej w Wielkiej Brytanii
  9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/apr/18/ls-lowry-tate

Please Disable Ddblocker

We are sorry, but it looks like you have an dblocker enabled.

Our only way to maintain this website is by serving a minimum ammount of ads

Please disable your adblocker in order to continue.

Dafato needs your help!

Dafato is a non-profit website that aims to record and present historical events without bias.

The continuous and uninterrupted operation of the site relies on donations from generous readers like you.

Your donation, no matter the size will help to continue providing articles to readers like you.

Will you consider making a donation today?