L S Lowry, who celebrates his 125 birthday, is honoured with a google doodle today. The painting selected shows his trademark matchstick men and women in an urban Manchester scene. His unique style and personal vision set him apart from the major art movements of his time. Only in recent years is the range and complexity of his work becoming more fully appreciated.
Laurence Stephen Lowry (1 November 1887 – 23 February 1976) was an English painter. After finishing school in 1904, he began work in Manchester as a clerk with a firm of chartered accountants, studying painting and drawing in the evenings at the Municipal College of Art (1905–15), and at Salford School of Art (1915–25). In 1910 he became a rent collector and clerk with the Pall Mall Property Company in Manchester; he remained a full-time employee and eventually chief cashier until his retirement in 1952. Despite his unusually long period as an art student, he regarded himself as self-taught. He drew inspiration from his surroundings, particularly Pendlebury, near Manchester, where he lived from 1909 to 1948.
Lowry’s reputation was slow to be established. In 1962 he was elected an RA. Lowry remained unconcerned by his growing fame and commercial success; from 1948 until his death he lived in the same small, unmodernised house in Cheshire.
Although Lowry is chiefly associated with street scenes and townscapes, his subject-matter was far more wide-ranging. He painted country scenes, as well as views of the seaside and of harbours. Though often represented as a reclusive man, his affection for relatives and close friends is shown in the Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1910; Salford, Mus. & A.G.). Occasionally he touched on current affairs, for example in Blitzed Site (1942; Salford, Mus. & A.G.), depicting the damage caused by a German air raid on Manchester in World War II, although recording events of this sort was never one of his main interests.
Lowry was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree, by the University of Manchester in 1945, and Doctor of Letters in 1961. He was given the freedom of the city of Salford in 1965. In 1975 he was awarded honorary Doctor of Letters degrees by the Universities of Salford and Liverpool. In 1964, the art world celebrated his 77th birthday with an exhibition of his work and that of 25 contemporary artists who had submitted tributes at Monk’s Hall Museum, Eccles. The Hallé Orchestra performed a concert in his honour and Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, used Lowry’s painting The Pond as his official Christmas card. Lowry’s painting Coming Out of School was depicted on a postage stamp of highest denomination in a series issued by the Post Office depicting great British artists in 1968.
The demand for doodles has risen in the U.S. and internationally. Creating doodles is now the responsibility of a team of talented illlustrators (we call them doodlers) and engineers. For them, creating doodles has become a group effort to enliven the Google homepage and bring smiles to the faces of Google users around the world.
Lowry twice declined appointment to the (Order of the British Empire): as an Officer (OBE) in 1955, and as a Commander (CBE) in 1961. He turned down a knighthood in 1968, and appointments to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in 1972 and 1976. He holds the record for the most British honours declined.