Painting of the Week

Painting of the Week

Early scenes of Narragansett Bay are delightful.  This 1891 work on paper by Lewis shows the bustling activity of commercial sail boats delivering and transporting goods and sailors getting off the small dingy to come ashore.  A wonderful rendition of real time commerce in 1891.

Edmund Darch Lewis (1835 – 1910) Watercolor and gouache Newport Harbor $2,500.

Edmund Darch Lewis (1835-1910)

One of the most prolific and commercially successful American landscape painters of the late nineteenth century, Edmund Darch Lewis rendered crisply realistic images of shorelines, waterways, and rural scenes in the northeast that received popular acclaim during his era. Born in Philadelphia, into a well-to-do family, Lewis had professional art training as early as age 15 when he studied with German-born Paul Weber who was an active acolyte of the Hudson River School. At age 19 he first exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and was elected an Associate of the Academy in 1859, and became a full Academician of the Academy in 1862, at the precocious age of 27. Lewis never married and lived a comfortable existence with his parents up to the age of fifty.

Lewis’ early work is exclusively in oils, and is considered technically superior to his later work, and his work in watercolors. His preferred subject matter was landscapes of mountains, river scenes, and lakes. The large, detailed, and romantic landscapes that he painted between 1860 and 1876 reflect the influence of his famous contemporaries Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) and Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902). He traveled extensively throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for over two decades, to acquire suitable venues. His extensive marine paintings throughout New England were popular, and Lewis became a highly successful and profilic artist in his lifetime. By the 1880s he had amassed a personal fortune, and turned much of his activities to becoming a collector of unique objects, furniture, china and decorative arts. He often traded his paintings to acquire objects.

Stylistically, Lewis’ work is considered one of the “Luminist” painters in the Hudson River School, because of the luminosity of the objects in his paintings. Later in his career, Lewis switched his primary medium to watercolor. While his watercolor paintings are considered outstanding and admired for their luminosity, he was known to have generated works rapidly and in large quantity at the later stage of his career.

Lewis exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1854 to 1869, and was elected an associate of the Academy in 1859. He also showed at the National Academy of Design in New York (1860), the Boston Athenaeum (1858-69), and the Brooklyn Art Association (1862-70). Lewis’s work is in several public collections including the Mobile Museum of Art, Alabama; Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida; Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts; Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, New York; and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.