Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Martin Lewis - part 1

Martin Lewis
Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Martin Lewis (1881-1962) was born in Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia in 1881. He was the second of eight children and had a passion for drawing. At the age of 15, he left home and travelled in New South Wales, Australia, and in New Zealand, working as a post hole digger and a merchant seaman. He returned to Sydney and settled into a Bohemian community outside Sydney. Two of his drawings were published in the radical Sydney newspaper, The Bulletin. He studied with Julian Ashton at the Art Society's School in Sydney. Ashton, a famous painter, was also one of the first Australian artists to take up printmaking.

In 1900, Lewis left Australia for the United States. His first job was in San Francisco, painting stage decorations for William McKinley’s presidential campaign of 1900. By 1909, Lewis was living in New York, where he found work in commercial illustration. His earliest known etching is dated 1915. However, the level of skill in this piece suggests he had been working in the medium for some time previously. It was during this period that he helped Edward Hopper to learn the basics of etching. In 1920, after the breakup of a romance, Lewis travelled to Japan, where for two years he drew and painted and studied Japanese art. The influence of Japanese prints is very evident in Lewis's prints after that period. In 1925, he returned to etching and produced most of his well-known works between 1925 and 1935. Lewis's first solo exhibition in 1929 was successful enough for him to give up commercial work and concentrate entirely on printmaking.


Lewis is most famous for his black and white prints, mostly of night scenes of non-tourist, real life street scenes of New York City. During the Depression, however, he was forced to leave the city for four years between 1932 and 1936 and move to Newtown, Connecticut. His work from this period includes a number of rural, night-time and winter scenes in this area and nearby Sandy Hook. Lewis was able to return to the New York City in 1936, there was no longer a market interested in his work. He taught printmaking at the Art Students League of New York from 1944 until his retirement in 1952 Lewis died largely forgotten in 1962.

This is part 1 of a 4-part series on the works of Martin: Lewis:


c1899 Café de Sixpence, Windmill Street, Millers Place, Sydney
pencil on cream wove paper 17.9 x 25.6 cm
 Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1899 Clyde Street, Millers Place, Sydney
pencil on cream wove paper 17.9 x 25.6 cm
 Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1899 View from Tegher Hill, Looking toward Carington, Newcastle, New South Wales
pencil on cream wove paper 17.9 x 25.6 cm
 Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1915 Looking Down Above the Tunnel, Weehawken etching and aquatint printed in brown-black ink on laid paper 
37.5 x 30.2 cm (plate) 
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1915 Nearing Land
etching and aquatint printed in brown ink on wove paper 

17.1 x 35.2 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1915 On the River
etching printed in black ink on laid paper 

37.8 x 30.2 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1915 Smoke Pillar, Weehawken
etching printed in black ink on wove paper 

25.1 x 20.3 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1915 The Battery
etching printed in brown ink on laid paper 14.9 x 17.5 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1915 Above the Tunnel, Weehawken
pencil with brush and black wash, on buff wove paper 

38 x 30.3 cm
Art Institute of Chicago, IL

c1915 Country Scene with Man Walking
etching and drypoint printed in black ink on laid paper 

23.2 x 26.7 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916 From the River Front
etching and aquatint printed in black ink on wove paper 

37.8 x 30.2 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916 In the Tropics
drypoint and etching printed in black ink on wove paper 

27.9 x 29.2 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916 Mud Dwellers
etching printed in black ink on wove paper 

27.9 x 17.5 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916 Puffing Billies
etching and possibly sandpaper ground printed in black ink on wove paper 33 x 24.8 cm (plate)
 Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916 Rock Face
etching printed in black ink on wove paper
27.3 x 12.1 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916 Speed and Sunshine
etching and sand-ground 19 x 25.2 cm

1916 The Big Freighter
etching and aquatint printed in brown ink on laid paper
31.4 x 44.1 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916 The Old Timer Battleship
etching printed in black ink on laid paper 25.1 x 32.7 m (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916 The Orator, Madison Square
etching, roulette, and sand-ground 27.6 x 32.1 (plate)

1916 The Roustabout
etching and sandpaper ground printed in black ink on wove paper 22.9 x 15.2 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916 Toward the Light
etching printed in black ink on wove paper
27.6 x 13.3 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1916-18 Lower New York from the Brooklyn Shore
etching and sand-ground printed in green black ink on laid paper 17.8 x 22.9 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1916-18 Dock Workers under the Brooklyn Bridge
etching and aquatint printed in black ink on wove paper
39.7 x 60.3 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1916 Moonlit Farm Scene
etching and drypoint printed in black ink on wove paper
25.1 x 20 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1916 Tugboat in the Rain
etching printed in black ink on wove paper
32.7 x 24.8 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1917 Catskill Cedars
drypoint 16 x 17.7 cm (plate)

c1917 Railroad Yards, Winter, Weehawken
oil on canvas 53.4 x 63.4 cm

1918 Above the Yards, Weehawken
aquatint and etching 45 x 60.3 cm

1918 Morning on the River
mezzotint 22.9 x 15.2 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1918 On the Rooftops, New York
etching, drypoint, and sandpaper ground printed in black ink on laid paper 17.6 x 26.4 cm (plate)
 Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1918 The Holocaust
etching, sandpaper ground, aquatint, and drypoint printed in blue-black ink on laid paper 26.4 x 35.2 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1918 Winter Moon
mezzotint printed in blue ink on wove paper
22.9 x 26.4 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1918 Bathers in a Lake
mezzotint printed in brown ink on wove paper
 17.1 x 17.8 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1918 Clearing Weather
etching and possibly sandpaper ground printed in black ink on wove paper 20.3 x 24.8 cm (plate)
 Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1918 Trade Winds
drypoint printed in brown-black ink on wove paper
20 x 30.2 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1919 Passing Storm
mezzotint printed in brown ink on laid paper
26.7 x 35.2 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1919 Skyline, New York
etching and drypoint 22.7 x 26.5 cm (plate)

1919 The "El" Station
drypoint printed in black ink on laid paper
22.9 x 14.9 cm (image)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1919 The Pilgrimage
etching printed in black ink on wove paper
22.5 x 26.4 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI


1925 Beaching the Boat
drypoint and sandground 17.6 x 25.3 cm (plate)

1925 Down the Hudson
drypoint printed in brown ink on wove paper
15.2 x 12.7 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1925 Suburban Evening Suburban Evening
25.4 x 20.3 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1925 The Great Shadow
drypoint on paper 25.2 x 17.7 cm (plate)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

1925-39 Untitled
charcoal on white wove paper 37.5 x 23.5 cm
 Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

c1925 Coal Pockets, Great Neck, LI
 pencil, pen and ink 25.7 x 20.1 cm

1926 Butter and Egg Man's Holiday
drypoint and sandpaper ground printed in black ink on laid paper 25.4 x 17.8 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1926 Charleston Practice - Lunch Hour
etching and sandground 20.2 x 25.2 cm (plate)

1926 Night in New York
etching on paper 21.5 x 22.6 cm (plate)
 Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

1927 Derricks
drypoint on paper 20.2 x 30.4 cm (plate)
 Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

1927 Lunch Counter
drypoint printed in brown ink on laid paper 17.8 x 25.1 cm

1927 Mother and Daughter
drypoint printed in black ink on wove paper
25.4 x 17.5 cm (plate)
Detroit Institute of Arts, MI

1927 Sunday Garden Inspection
drypoint 30.3 x 20.2 cm (plate)

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