Lowry was born in Manchester, and lived all his life in or near the city. He studied art at evening classes but made his living as a rent collector and clerk for a firm of accountants. Lowry also had intermittent art school training from 1905 to 1925 and therefore was not a completely untaught artist, as is often thought. An eccentric and reclusive figure, Lowry lived alone after the death of his mother, following a spartan routine. His art focuses on the industrial cityscapes of Manchester and nearby Salford, affectionately portraying the factories and 'matchstick' people who stride purposefully about their business. His paintings combine observed and invented elements.