LS Lowry was one of Britain’s most successful post-war artists, famous for his industrial and urban landscapes populated with ‘match-stick’ figurines.
Best known for painting industrial scenes of North West England in the mid 20th century, LS Lowry produced a number of fantastic works over the course of his career. Although Lowry was trained in academic drawing, he chose to develop his own naive style which has brought him widespread recognition. His mysterious, weatherless landscapes express a personal response to the world around him that never fails to bewitch the viewer.
However, the artist who put the industrial scene on the map, had a rather unusual life for an artist. Discover 6 things you didn’t know about LS Lowry below.
LS Lowry in his studio (Image Credit: Clive Arrowsmith)
6 Things you didn’t know about LS Lowry
1. Lowry’s artistic career began because he missed a train.
The artist missed his train one evening, so began to walk his route home. It was during this walk home that Lowry came across a row of red brick houses, which stood at the foot of an immense industrial mill. He was suddenly filled with the urge to paint this scene, and at that moment his life as an artist began.
2. Lowry rarely painted London.
As there are very few works by the artist depicting London, they regularly fetch a premium. The record sale of a Lowry painting came in 2011, when his 1960 painting of Piccadilly Circus sold for £5.6 million at Christie’s. The painting was one of 14 owned by the hotel tycoon Lord Forte and sold at the same time.
3. Lowry only used a very basic palette.
“I am a simple man and I use simple materials,” he once said, before listing the colours. “Ivory Black, Vermilion, Prussian Blue, Yellow Ochre, Flake White and no medium. That’s all I’ve ever used in my paintings. I like oils… I like a medium you can work into over a period of time”.
4. Lowry rejected five honours during his life.
Over a period of 21 years, the artist dismissed the offer of an OBE, a CBE, a knighthood, and twice becoming a Companion of Honour. One reason for this was that he didn’t want to change his name. The idea of someone calling him ‘Sir Laurence’ instead of just speaking to him was something he did not like at all.
5. Lowry drew on anything he could find.
When he had no sketchbook, Lowry drew scenes in pencil or charcoal on the back of envelopes, serviettes and cloakroom tickets and presented them to young people sitting with their families. Such serendipitous pieces are now worth thousands of pounds; a serviette sketch can be seen at the Sunderland Marriott Hotel.
6. Lowry worked as a rent collector for most of his life.
Lowry was never a full-time artist. In his early twenties, he took a job as a rent collector, and this would be his primary trade for the next four decades. But he painted most days after work, late into the night and firmly rejected the label of ‘Sunday painter’, remarking, ‘I’m a Sunday painter who paints every day of the week!’