Even today, LS Lowry is dismissed in some circles as an 'amateur' or a 'Sunday painter', who just painted gloomy Northern scenes and 'matchstick men'.
But this year, the Lancastrian's critical reputation may be heading for an overhaul after the Tate Britain announced plans to exhibit a major retrospective of his work.
According to those famed art critics Sir Ian McKellen and Noel Gallagher, Lowry being snubbed for so many years is merely proof of an anti-Northern bias held by a Southern metropolitan elite - but whatever the reason, he's in good company by being under-appreciated in his lifetime.
In fact, many of the greatest painters from history had it a lot worse, living all their life in abject poverty only to see (or not, as the case may be) their work sell for fortunes after their death.
From Vincent Van Gogh to the creator of Peanuts, here are nine surprising examples of celebrated artists who suffered rejection from the fickle art establishment.
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Despite now being recognised as founder of French Impressionism, for the early part of Monet's career he was derided as 'formless, unfinished and ugly' and lived in abject poverty. Things picked up by the 1880s though, thankfully.
<strong>Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)</strong> Despite giving up work as a stockbroker to concentrate on his art, Gauguin's work only became popular 40 years after his death. A key figure in the Symbolist movement, he is most famous for his depictions of the Tahitian people, where he settled after travelling the world. Employees adjust a painting by Paul Gauguin entitled <em>Deux Femmes</em> at Sotheby's, London. PHOTO: PA Pictures
<strong>Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)</strong> Van Gogh only sold 2 paintings during his lifetime before he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest at 37. Since his death his work has become highly influential and is owned by galleries and private collectors across the globe. His <em>Portrait of Dr. Gachet</em> sold for $82.5million in 1990. PHOTO: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire
El Greco (1541-1614)
El Greco - or Doménikos Theotokópoulos, as his Mother knew him - baffled scholars in Rome who couldn't get their heads around his combination of Byzantine and Western influences. He didn't help his reputation by dismissing the principles of measure and proportion (laid down by Michelangelo, no less). Thankfully, being such a renegade did eventually pay off and now he's an adored figure of art history - he just didn't live to see it
<strong>Henry Darger (1892-1973)</strong> Darger, a recluse whose work was discovered by his landlords shortly before his death, is the perfect example of outsider art. There are only three known photographs of Darger and little is known about his private life, the documentary <em>In the Realms of the Unreal</em> directed by Jessica Yu attempts to unearth some information. Works (left to right) <em>Cat Headed Blengian</em> and <em>Spangled Winged Tuskorhorian Blengin</em>, on display at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago. PHOTO: PA Pictures
<strong>Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)</strong> The Dutch Baroque painter was largely unknown until historians Gustav Friedrich Waagen and Théophile Thoré-Bürger drew attention to his work nearly 200 years after his death. He is now seen as a major figure in the Dutch Golden Age. The image shows <em>Christ in the House of Martha and Mar</em>y on display at The National Gallery, London. PHOTO: PA Pictures
Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
Ernest Hemingway's favourite artist was one of the forefathers of modern art, but that didn't stop the Salon exhibition in Paris from rejecting his work every single year between 1864 and 1869. One of the least successful significant artists in history, it was only a year after his death when he was inducted in the Salon d'Automne and his reputation began to be revised. Rough luck.
Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000)
The man who brought us Charlie Brown and Snoopy became arguably the most influential comic strip written in the history of the world - but life didn't start off that easy. Shultz was rejected by his high school yearbook every time he submitted a cartoon, and was also rejected for a job working with Walk Disney.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
Now loved by the art world (and students looking to put something classy on their bedroom walls), Toulouse-Lautrec chronicled the Moulin Rouge with his now-iconic paintings. But in addition to being a struggling artist during his lifetime, he was often mocked for being short - a combination that turned him to alcoholism. Still, at least he was in good company as an underappreciated artist - he was pals with Van Gogh and Cezanne.