Salford City Council has paid tribute to Harold Riley after hearing from his family that he has sadly passed away.
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “It is with great sadness that I have recently heard of the passing of Harold Riley. The flag at Salford Civic Centre has been lowered to half-mast as a mark of respect for one of this city’s most famous sons and treasured artists.
“In Salford we are incredibly lucky to have been blessed with two of Britain’s foremost artists of the 20th century – Harold Riley and L.S. Lowry, who were friends for 30 years, charting over 100 years of the social history of Salford through their art. Salford gave LS Lowry the freedom of the city in 1965 and 52 years later Harold Riley also followed his friend and accepted this prestigious honour.
“From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank Harold for all he has done for our great city, he had the true Spirit of Salford with a deep love for the people, communities and an unwavering commitment to his city, Salford.
“Harold was a humble eloquent man with a great sense of humour and with the ability to put everyone at ease particularly through his many stories about his life in Salford and wider experiences travelling the world as an artist.
“Harold was a very generous man contributing to numerous good causes across the City over his lifetime. The list is long, but to name just one, Harold donated 100 original works to Salford Royal Hospital along with 100 prints of these works that are now on display around the hospital to support patients and staff.
“He will be sorely missed, and Salford is very much the worse for his passing – Rest in Peace Harold.”
Tom Stannard, Chief Executive at Salford City Council said: “Harold was a renowned artist, known throughout the world but he remained devoted to his home city. He was given the Freedom of Salford in 2017 and after the ceremony had the opportunity to drive a small flock of sheep up the Crescent.”
Harold sold his first painting in the City Art Gallery when he was just 11 years old. And from this he went on to receive recognition from across the world for commissioned portraits of princes, popes and presidents, including Nelson Mandela, Prince Phillip and John F Kennedy.
Nelson Mandela had six lengthy sittings with Harold over 18 months in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The portrait he created was unveiled in 2005 and raised more than $1m for South African children’s charities at auction in New York.
Some of Harold’s work is currently on display at Salford Museum and Art Gallery.