James Lawrence Isherwood


James Lawrence Isherwood was born on the 7 April 1917 and was an English artist, born in Wigan, Lancashire. Isherwood was a prolific impressionist/expressionist painter. He is known for his Wigan Style and Wigan figure paintings. These together with his London scenes and Wigan street scenes, are his most sought after works.

Isherwood was a friend of the artist L. S. Lowry, who purchased his “Woman with Black Cat” and displayed it at his home. Lowry paid £5 for the picture from Isherwood's Av Guard exhibition in Manchester. Other known collectors include Prince Charles, who bought one of Isherwood's seascapes from a sale held at Cambridge University.

The former Director General of the BBC, Hugh Greene, commissioned a portrait of Mary Whitehouse, his vociferous critic, from Isherwood; the artist depicted her with five breasts. Isherwood gave the painting a punning title - "Sanctity" - and Hugh Greene allegedly hung it in his office so that he could apparently throw things at it. Always short of money, Isherwood traveled the country in his old estate car, usually accompanied by his mother (whom he called 'Mother Lily'). He liked to pitch up at art colleges and give impromptu tutorials, and usually paid for his hotel room with a painting. He also offered magistrates a painting in lieu of a fine when prosecuted for driving with no tax or insurance. A BBC documentary, I am Isherwood was made in 1974 about the artist and his work. This was transmitted twice by the BBC once in 1974 and again in 1975.

Isherwood died on 9 June 1989 of cancer.