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American & European Paintings - September 2008
 
 
painting
 
Edmund Darch Lewis
(American, 1835–1910)
View of Narragansett, 1893
Watercolor, 11 × 23 3/4 inches
RS 6490


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 at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1860. Lewis never married and lived a comfortable existence with his parents until he was fifty.

Lewis was a prolific artist whose landscapes were avidly collected by Philadelphia art patrons, and by the early 1880s he had made 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. Late in his career Lewis lost interest in oil painting, and the quality of his work in that medium declined.

View of Narragansett is typical of the artist’s late phase, when he worked almost exclusively in watercolor for his own pleasure. Many of these views represent popular resorts such as Cape May in New Jersey, where his younger brother owned a house. Located in Rhode Island on Narragansett Bay, Narragansett was one of the most fashionable American resort towns of the “Gilded Age.”


  


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