|Biography from Spanierman Gallery:|
|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.|
Lewis was born in Philadelphia. At age fifteen, he began to study art, enrolling in a private class with Paul Weber. His initial works were landscapes and marine views, focusing on the Lehigh, Susquehana, and Wissahickon Rivers of Pennsylvania. These paintings were described in the Philadelphia Public Ledger as demonstrating “a tremendous talent, great freedom from tradition,” and they “promised a departure from the beaten tracks.” (1) Lewis’s art was in high demand from the beginning of his career and he established a national following.
Although he became best known for scenes of Philadelphia, Lewis also rendered views of New York, New England, and even Cuba. Later in his career, his focus shifted to shorelines of Cape May, New Jersey, and Narragansett, Rhode Island. He frequently depicted schooners drifting in calm waters, churning mills, and hidden cottages. Lewis favored watercolor, but also used oils and gouache.
Due to his financial success in painting, Lewis was able to nurture his passion for collecting. He would often trade a group of his watercolors for valuable objects d’art. His collection included a throne that belonged to Napoleon I, a set of drawing room furniture from the Borghese Palace in Rome, and the original sketch for Alexandre Cabanel’s Birth of Venus. His mansion in Philadelphia consisted of two connecting houses and additional annexes that were filled with period furniture, china, and decorative arts. Wealthy and admired, Lewis entertained in a grand style, hosting a number of exhibitions and events in his opulent home.
Lewis exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1854-69) 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.
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|Biography from Schwarz Gallery:|
|Edmund Darch Lewis was born in Philadelphia, the son of a prominent businessman. According to family tradition he was educated at a private school and studied painting with the German-born landscapist Paul Weber (1823–1916). |
He first exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1854, where he was elected an associate in 1859 and a full Academician in 1862. He also exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum from 1858 to 1869, and the National Academy of Design in New York in 1860.
Lewis never married and lived a comfortable existence with his parents up to the age of fifty.
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).
Lewis was a prolific artist whose views of Pennsylvania, New York, and New England were avidly collected by Philadelphia art patrons, and by the early 1880s he had amassed a fortune. He devoted the last thirty years of his life to amassing a huge collection of fine and decorative arts that he displayed in his sumptuously furnished townhouse on 526 South 22nd Street. He lost interest in oil painting and the quality of his work in that medium declined noticeably.
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Edmund Lewis is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Hudson River School Painters