Lowry, Laurence Stephen

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Lowry, Laurence Stephen (1887–1976). Painter. The only child of a Manchester estate agent, Lowry worked all his life as a clerk, retiring in 1952 as chief cashier. He never married. He painted in his spare time, studying at the Municipal College of Art and then at the Salford School of Art. He sold his first painting in 1930, and exhibited two years later at the Royal Academy, to which he was elected in 1962. His style was simple, almost naïve. His range was wider than sometimes suggested, with good portraits of himself and his parents, but his popularity came from his canvases of the mills and factories of his native Lancashire, dotted with small trudging workers—‘God's ants’ was one description. He was inevitably hailed as the spokesman of alienation in modern industrial society, but his Bruegel-like figures often seem more preoccupied than crushed, and the prevailing bleakness is shot through with quizzical humour. The Lowry Centre at Salford was opened by the queen in 2000.

J. A. Cannon