Levi Wells Prentice
(1851 - 1935)
Levi Wells Prentice was active/lived in New York, Connecticut. Levi Prentice is known for still life, naive landscape and portrait painting.
Levi Wells Prentice
Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Lewis County, New York in the Adirondack Mountains, he earned a
reputation for painting still lifes in landscape, although he began his
career painting only the landscape. His still lifes were of two types,
either arrangements placed in the landscape or close-ups of fruit
growing on trees or falling out of baskets.
Biography from Karen L. North, Private Art Dealer
He was raised on a farm from where he painted
the mountain landscape of Lewis County and also painted in the vicinity
of Buffalo and Syracuse. In 1883, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where
he worked as a carpenter, frame- maker, and art teacher and also began
painting still lifes objects, something that by 1894, he focused on
exclusively, especially highly polished and well defined apples.
left Brooklyn in 1903, and from that time, little is known except that
his obituary was in the Philadelphia newspapers in 1935.
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Self-taught artist Levi Wells Prentice is best known for his realistic
still-life compositions of fruit arranged within a landscape, or
abundantly spilling from bushel baskets. Early in his career, he
painted portraits and landscapes of the Adirondack Mountain region of
Lewis County, New York, where Prentice was born in 1851.
Biography from Newman Galleries
Prentice later turned to painting still-life subjects when he moved to
Brooklyn, New York in 1883. He was a member of the Brooklyn Art
Association and frequently exhibited his paintings there. In
addition to his artistic talents, Prentice also designed his own frames
and made his own brushes and palettes.
Prentice's fruit still lifes are compositions are intended to create
dramatic contrasts. The shift between dark background areas and
the vibrant hues of the fruit are done to give the compositions an
exciting, visual energy. The fruit is presented with clarity and
precision. An emphasis is placed on the idea of man vs.
nature. The wooden baskets with hand wrought nails represents a
structured, man-made object, while the overly ripe fruit represents the
fleeting qualities of nature.
These paintings also demonstrate Prentice's remarkable skills at
rendering color, form, and texture. Noted art historian, William H.
Gerdts observed: "there are several works by Prentice in which he
achieves a quality of illusionism which is unsurpassed." (1)
In 1993, the skillful 'illusionism' of Levi Wells Prentice was
celebrated in a retrospective exhibition at the Adirondack Museum in
New York. His works continue to receive a high degree of
appreciation by collectors today. His works are represented in many
museums including the New York State Museum, Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston, Montclair Art Museum, Philbrook Museum of Art and Yale
University Art Gallery.
(1) Gerdts, William H. Painters of the Humble Truth: Masterpieces of American Still-life, 1801-1939. London: University of Missouri Press, 1981; p. 206.
Wells Prentice was born in the Adirondack Mountains of New York in
1851. This self-taught artist began painting landscapes of the area in
the 1870's, when his family moved to Syracuse. Early in his career,
Prentice also painted portraiture. In the late 1880's, Prentice moved
to Brooklyn. It is believed that it was at this point, when he was no
longer surrounded by mountain views that he began to paint still lifes.
His earliest example of a painting in this genre is inscribed 1892.
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Although Prentice was known for his still lifes, he was remembered as a
landscape painter skilled in depicting the glorious lake and mountain
beauty of Adirondacks. In addition to painting, he designed his own
frames, brushes and palettes, and was a talented furniture maker as
well. Newman Galleries employed Prentice as a framemaker.
In 1993, the
Adirondack Museum at Blue Moutnain Lake, New York mounted a
comprehensive exhibition of Prentice's works.
The artist died in 1935.
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