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 Maud Lewis  (1903 - 1970)

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Lived/Active: Canada      Known for: naive landscape-snowscene painting

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Ad Code: 3
Maud Lewis
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Maude Lewis was born in Ohio, Yarmouth Country, Nova Scotia.  She started painting Christmas cards with her mother and then sold them on the streets of Yarmouth. When her parents died she went to live with an aunt in Digby, Nova Scotia.  In 1938 she married Everett Lewis and moved to a small one-room cabin near No.2 Highway west of Digby, at a place called Marshalltown.  Her husband sold fish from village to village and she sometimes sold some of her cards.  He encouraged her to paint and bought her artist's supplies and cut small pieces of plywood that would allow her to paint with her polio-afflicted arms and arthritic condition.  She passed her days painting in the doorway of her house and people began to know her and to buy her work.

Her story soon became famous; in 1965 an article in the Moncton Times referenced her story. The same year CBC-TV's Telescope produced the programme "The Once-Upon-a-Time World of Maude Lewis" that featured her life and paintings and also included comments by Bill Ferguson and Claire Stenning, owners of the Ten Mile House Gallery, and Halifax artist John Cook [1918 - 1984].

In 1967 work by Maud Lewis was included at the Centennial Exhibition of Primitive Art in New Brunswick at the Beaverbrook House, Saint John. 

In 1970 she died at the Digby General Hospital.  Some of her paintings are in the White House and the Legislative Buildings of the Province of Nova Scotia.  Some collectors of her paintings include Robert L. Stanfield (former premier of Nova Scotia) and President Richard Nixon, among many others.  Her use of color and style was admired for its naturalist approach, both technically and thematically; she did not mixed colors but used them straight out of the tube and she mostly painted simple everyday life scenes of Nova Scotia.

Writings about

"About This and That - The Passing of Maude." Digby Courier 6 Aug. 1970.

"Digby artist dies; her primitive style paintings in the White House." Mail Star (Halifax) 1 Aug. 1970.

"Digby's Artist, Maude Lewis, Laid To Rest." Digby Courier 6 Aug. 1970.

"Digby's Artist, Mrs. Maude Lewis Dies." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 1 Aug. 1970.

"Maude in Hospital." Digby Courier 27 Mar. 1969.

"Once Upon-A-Time World of Maude Lewis." Moncton Times 20 Nov. 1965.

"Telescope Visits Painter Maude Lewis of Digby." Yarmouth Herald 24 Nov. 1965.

"The Maud Lewis Touch." Chronicle Herald (Halifax) 6 Aug. 1970.

Barnard, Murray. "The Little Old Lady Who Paints Pretty Pictures." Star Weekly (Toronto) 10 Jul. 1965.

MacDonald, Colin S.. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. (Volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker) Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009

McCoy, Doris. "Frail Woman with A Body Brush." Atlantic Advocate (Fredericton) Jan. 1967.

Vowel, Jean. "The Sketch Pad." Times (Port Alberni) 1 Dec. 1965.

Source: Canadian Women Artists History Initiative* -

Posthumous exhibition

"The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis", Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, 1997

Source: Canadian Encyclopedia (online) -

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Submitted by M.D. Silverbrooke


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