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L.S. Lowry

His portrayal of industrial subjects was based on the most extensive and minutely detailed observation of his subjects, accumulated in the course of endless walks along all the streets in the limited area of his choice for more than a third of a century. It would be difficult to name a painter of comparable subjects whose works rival his. But with regard to portraits the situation was radically different. He had some devoted friends and his was a most likeable personality, but he was surely among the most temperamentally lonely of men—a lone­liness exacerbated by his determination to conceal from those who knew him as an artist, and from the public at large, the dual circum­stances of his life as rent collector and the like as well as artist— involving him in a variety of elaborate forms of deceit, the severing of relations with those who knew the truth. This, combined with his natural shyness, indeed timidity, resulted in an inconsistency of outlook that affected not only his self-knowledge but also his ability to portray his fellow men and women. If he saw them as odd it was because he felt himself to be odd. Oddity he admirably portrayed, but oddity is not the dominant human char­acteristic (though more common than the casual observer is apt to notice). Nor can his concentration on it be justified by any special characteristic of the people among whom he lived. 'Manchester people,' he used to say, 'are no different from people anywhere else.'

John Rothenstein

 

"I wanted to paint myself into what absorbed me ... Natural figures would have broken the spell of it, so I made my figures half unreal. Some critics have said that I turned my figures into puppets, as if my aim were to hint at the hard economic necessities that drove them. To say the truth, I was not thinking very much about the people. I did not care for them in the way a social reformer does. They are part of a private beauty that haunted me. I loved them and the houses in the same way: as part of a vision.”