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Lawrence Stephen Lowry

"You should see the things I see, when I'm..."

In his early years, Laurence Stephen.Lowry (1887-1976) lived in the leafy middle-class Manchester suburb of Victoria Park. His father was an estate agent. Then, in 1909, a lack of money necessitated that the family to move to 117, Station Road, Pendlebury.

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Lowry acknowledges: “My subjects were all around me... in those days there were mills and factories all around Pendlebury. The people who worked there were passing, morning, noon and night. All my material was on my doorstep.”

He himself worked as rent collector for the Pall Mall Property Company. His day job necessitated that he walked the streets of the city. Lowry would often do sketches on location.

Evening classes in antique and freehand drawing began, for Lowry, in 1905. He was to study at both the 'Manchester Academy of Fine Art' and 'Salford Royal Technical College' (in Peel Park).

Through the teaching of Adolphe Valette, Lowry knew of French Impressionism. He also had a thorough knowledge of Art History and modern art. He was also well aware of contemporary trends and market demands.

His father died in 1932. From this point forward his 73 year old mother became bed ridden and Lowry cared for her until her death in 1939. In the evening, working in the attic room, he would compose and produce his paintings (in the format of landscape, portrait and 'dreamscape').

In his later years Lowry became a celebrity figure. Months before his death in 1976, a retrospective exhibition opened at the Royal Academy and broke all attendance records for a twentieth century artist.

The 'Salford Museum & Art Gallery' began collecting the artist's work in 1936 (and gradually built up a collection of 350 paintings and drawings) which is the core of The Lowry, Salford Quays.

The mythology that surrounds Lowry suggests that he was a social misfit, but he manipulated the media to preserve his private life. He tried to keep both 'worlds' separate and was in truth a gregarious, and generous, man.

The popular myth promulgated by Lowry and the art media, portraying the artist as a romantic northern working class figure was a commercial enterprise. This allowed to him to remain accessible to the general public and made his artwork a viable commodity in commercial 'Fine Art' spheres where the 'primitive' (for want of a better word) was in demand, and in vogue.

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