John Frederick Lewis

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John Frederick Lewis

19 artworks

English Orientalist artist

Born 1805 - Died 1876

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John Frederick Lewis
by Paul Ripley

Lewis was born in London, where his father was an engraver, who gave his son lessons in draughtsmanship. From an early age Lewis was a proficient watercolour painter. He was a full member of the Old Watercolour Society whist still in his twenties. In the late 1820s, Lewis travelled to Europe, & in 1832 travelled to Morocco, which must have stimulated his interest in Arab life & customs. In 1841 he travelled overland to Cairo, & stayed there for over nine years. During his stay he ‘went native,’ adopting Arab dress & customs.

Lewis exhibited at the OWS on his return to England in 1850, where his pictures were extremely well-received. In 1855 he was elected President of the Old Watercolour Society, though by that time he was turning increasingly to painting in oil. There were probably a number of reasons for this. Firstly the permanence of oils. Secondly the greater scope it gave him. Thirdly the far greater recognition, & hence financial rewards. Lewis became an Associate of the Royal Academy, & a full member in 1865.

Lewis was amongst the very greatest artists of his day, & his pictures are beautifully painted, subtle, & fastidious. Nowadays they bring very high prices.

Source: Victorian Art in Britain.