BIOGRAPHY OF L.S. LOWRY
The talented British artist Laurence Stephen Lowry is more popularly known as L. S. Lowry and was the only child born to his parents, Robert and Elizabeth Lowry. After his physically difficult birth on November 1, 1887 in Stretford, England, his mother, Elizabeth suffered ongoing complications and resultant poor health that prevented her from returning to her previous occupation as a teacher. Elizabeth was, by all accounts, a very gifted woman with aspirations of becoming a concert pianist, but those dreams were never realized because of continuing health issues. His father, Robert Lowry, worked for a property company as a clerk and was said to be shy, introverted and described as a “cold fish.”
Lowry’s mother was known to be a rather nervous individual who was easily irritated and very domineering over her husband and her son. She used her ongoing illness as a means of controlling both of them and raised her son in much the same way her father had raised her, in a very strict environment that demanded success and did not tolerate failure of any kind. Lowry indicated that he had an unhappy childhood and that his mother never expressed any interest in or appreciation of his artwork. Lowry would later express regret about the fact that his mother passed away before she could see him succeed as a noted British artist.
Early in his life, the Lowry family lived in a suburb called Victoria Park and was forced to move because of financial problems to an industrialized city called Pendlebury. Lowry did not perform particularly well in school and didn’t have many friends. Although he hated it at first, Lowry spent more than 40 years in this treeless area that consisted of factories, textile mills and their smoking chimneys.
Upon completing school, Lowry worked as a rent collector, where he secretly worked until 1952. He kept his employment a secret so he could be taken more seriously as an artist. Continuing to work as a rent collector for the Pall Mall Property Company enabled him to personally interact with locals and he was privately tutored in drawing and later attended the Manchester School of Art. He concluded his studies in 1925 at what is now known as the University of Salford, where he developed his artistic appreciation of the local industrial landscapes after observing the scenes from the window of the Peel Building at the University, which overlooks Peel Park. This local park became the subject of many of his early paintings and the industrial neighborhoods and their residents, with their dark, grimy and dank scenes, became the focus of Lowry’s artwork and he is most famous for depicting life in those industrial settings of northwest England.
His father, Robert Lowry, passed away in 1932 and his mother, Elizabeth, became depressed and neurotic afterwards because of his death and the debts he left behind and her son became her caregiver. Many of Lowry’s paintings were produced at night, while his mother rested. After her death in 1939, Lowry became more and more depressed and neglected to make the mortgage payments on their home, which was eventually foreclosed upon. Thereafter, he purchased a home called “The Elms” and, although he indicated that he didn’t like it, he lived there for almost 30 years until his death in 1932.
Later in life, Lowry painted beach and port scenes, as well as coalmines that he observed during his holidays at the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland. Lowry produced artwork on the backs of envelopes, napkins and coatroom tickets, which he then gave away to various people he observed sitting around the area. The unsuspecting recipients of these drawings now possess artwork by L. S. Lowry that is worth thousands of dollars, despite the medium on which they were produced!
L. S. Lowry was considered a shy man but he maintained many long-term friendships and developed new ones later in life. His friends were quite amused by his eccentricities, including his collection of clocks, all of which he set to different times of day. Some believed he did this so he wouldn’t know or care what time it was and others believed it was to spare him the sound of all of them chiming at the same time!
L. S. Lowry died on February 23, 1976 at the Woods Hospital in Glossop. After his death from pneumonia, he was laid to rest next to his parents in the Southern Cemetery in Manchester, England. His entire estate was left to Carol Ann Lowry, who shared his last name, but was not related. She was an aspiring artist who admired Lowry and received encouragement and advice from him. She later received trademark protection of the signature of L. S. Lowry.
A large collection of Lowry’s artwork is exhibited in Salford at a gallery aptly named “The Lowry” and some of his work depicting uninhabited landscapes, marionettes and various portraits was only discovered after his death.
Elizabeth Lowry would be proud of her son and his artistic skills and the beautiful paintings he created, as well as the fact that he holds the record for the person who rejected the most “honors” in Great Britain, including knighthood. Read More