L.S. Lowry U.K., 1887-1976


"You don't need brains to be a painter, just feelings"

-L.S. Lowry

L.S. Lowry is unquestionably one of the most celebrated British artists with a unique and unrivalled contribution to the pre and post World War Two 'industrial North'. 


Lowry is most famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial districts of North West England in the mid-20th century. He developed a distinctive style of painting and is best known for his urban landscapes peopled with human figures, often referred to as "matchstick men". However, although best known for his mill scenes and industrial landscapes, Lowry's work covers a wide range of themes and subjects, from landscapes and seascapes to portraits and surreal imaginings.


He studied painting and drawing in the evenings at the Municipal College of Art (1905-15), and at Salford School of Art (1915-25), while working as a rent collector during the day.

His initial drawings were made outdoors, on the spot, often rough sketches on the back of an envelope or whatever scrap of paper was to hand.


Subsequent finished drawings were made later and, after about 1910, he only ever painted at home in what he referred to as his 'workroom', rather than his studio. His palette was very restricted and he used only five colours - flake white, ivory black, vermilion (red), Prussian blue and yellow ochre.


Lowry developed a distinctive style over the course of his career. Painting scenes of life in the industrial North, his most famous works are those of urban landscapes punctuated by smoking chimney stacks and populated with indistinguishable figures, often referred to as his "matchstick men". However, Lowry also painted brooding portraits, groups of eclectic figures and unpopulated landscapes. Irrespective of subject, all of Lowry's works are stylistically his own.


After years of painting and exhibiting in and around Manchester and Salford, Lowry received his first one-man exhibition in London in 1939 and subsequently went on to national fame.  He died aged 88 in 1976 just months before a retrospective exhibition opened at the Royal Academy.


Lowry holds the record for rejecting British honours (five times), including a knighthood in 1968. A collection of his work is on display in The Lowry centre (Manchester, UK), a purpose-built art gallery on Salford Quays. On 26 June 2013, a major retrospective opened at the Tate Britain in London, his first at the gallery. In 2014 his first solo exhibition outside the UK was held in Nanjing, China.

Selected Artworks

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