A superb example of Lowry’s most sensitive and monumental works with a strong composition and rich texture. Here Lowry brings fully to life one of his “Matchstick Men”. As in his industrial scenes, his subject is disconnected from those around him. For more than a third of his career Lowry had left the urban scenes behind and turned to more solitary subjects, reflecting perhaps his own quite solitary life.
“I believe that every human creature is an island. Had I not been lonely, none of my work would have happened.”
Lowry often expressed his feelings of loneliness especially after the death of his mother in 1939, but with time he appears to have reconciled himself to being unmarried and without a close circle of friends and Carol Lowry clearly brought him a new calmness and company. While he had contact with many people in his work as a rent collector, many critics have interpreted his works as that of an observer. Images such as those of “Self Portrait as a Pillar in the Sea”, 1966, and Man Lying on a Wall, 1957 reinforce this. Tall single structures appear often in his work including church spires and lone houses.
Man Lying on a Wall, 1957
Through his paintings he communicated his feelings and purpose in life. Lowry here presents us with a man, possibly himself, peaceful and sculptural, monumental, very human. This is not isolation, but detachment, a timeless observation of the world. Here there are no hurrying, anonymous crowds or dogs and cats, no terraces of housing or factories, but a psychologically intense and wonderful testament to life. Lowry was an introverted man, but here we see him reflecting upon existence in a tender and highly appealing manner. Lowry mastered the art of being a unique observer of people, time and place, giving us his very personal response to the world around him. Lowry grips us with an intensity which compels you to consider the meaning of his figure as you stare back at his figures as they gaze out.