Martin Lewis (1883-1962)

Martin Lewis (1883-1962)

Valley View

signed 'M. Lewis' lower left--oil on canvas
33 x 30in. (84 x 76cm.)

Lot Essay

Although known primarily as a printmaker, Martin Lewis also worked in watercolor and oil paint and during the early part of his career supported himself through commercial work. Valley View is among the largest of these commissions and appeared on the cover of the catalogue of the Stokes' Seed Company of Buffalo, New York in the early 1920s.

Barbara Blackwell has described Lewis's work, writing, "Martin Lewis remained an intuitive realist throughout the most turbulent decades in American art. . . His persistent realism was not derived from ignorance of the avant-garde but was a matter of choice, an indication of a consistent vision only slightly affected by the works of the modernists." (The Art of Martin Lewis, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, 1983, p. 7)

Lewis painted Valley View in 1919 just prior to a two-year sojourn in Japan from 1920-22, where he sketched and painted the Japanese countryside in oil and watercolor. Valley View reflects this interest in the landscape; here Lewis explores a broad vista of American farmland, infusing it with a sense of light and space that is unique to the North American landscape.