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In 1957 Lowry described the chance meeting which prompted him to paint this emotionally charged portrait of a young man: 'The head was done from my recollection of a young man I saw once in a Manchester park - a good while ago. He interested me very much at the time and stayed in my mind in a vague sort of way ever since. He gave me the impression that something had very badly gone wrong in his life tho' he gave no inkling of what it was in a fairly long conversation. He was totally disinterested in anything at all and yet was, to me most interesting - he was a peculiar young gentleman and I would have liked to have come across him again, I am sure I am right about him'.

August 2004