Lowry's industrial landscapes are often composite images, created partly from his imagination, however, in The Liver Buildings, Liverpool, Lowry has remained faithful to the view across the Mersey. Painted in 1962, this large-scale oil masterpiece depicts the iconic Royal Liver Building, designed by Walter A. Thomas in 1908 for the Royal Liver Friendly Society. When the building was completed in 1911 it was Britain's first skyscraper, standing 90 metres tall and built using a revolutionary steel and concrete structure.
On the top of the building's two towers, and visible in Lowry's painting, are the mythical Liver Birds, Liverpool's official mascot. The building' clock faces were designed so that they could be read by passing mariners and, with a diameter of 25 feet, they are larger than the faces on London's Big Ben. Lowry has also included the Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building, standing to the right on the skyline, a number of ships on the Mersey, and some strolling figures in the foreground.
The frieze-like receding planes of the composition are typical of Lowry's technique, giving the viewer a panoramic perspective of this scene, which combines an industrial landscape, a seascape and a peopled scene in front. One figure stands very distinctly alone, looking across towards the Royal Liver Building and this central solitary figure is a classic Lowry trademark. He was fascinated by the psychology of groups of people - how you could be surrounded by a number of people and yet remain distinctly isolated, like this lonely girl.
Lowry commented to Mervyn Levy, 'All those people in my pictures, they are all alone, you know. They have gone all got their private sorrows, their own absorptions. But they can't contact one another. We are all of us alone - cut off. All my people are lonely. Crowds are the most lonely thing of all. Everyone is a stranger to everyone else. You have only got to look at them to see that' (see M. Howard, Lowry: A Visionary Artist, Salford, 2000, p. 133).