This fine old work (9" by 20", 19 1/2" by 31" framed/matted, no glass) is a coastal scene including both steam and sail vessels on the horizon, as well as a shipwreck on the rocks at right, signed lower right and dated there 1888 by the well known American 19th century painter EDMUND DARCH LEWIS (1835-1910). The combination of vessel types, and the shipwreck, (which seems to be rare in the artist's body of work---I have extensively searched the auction records and cannot find another), makes for a most interesting and unusual composition.The artist painted from Maryland to Maine, visited Cuba and apparently Italy, and even apparently spent a short time on the Pacific coast at Monterey, California. Odds are good that this is an east coast scene, most likely on the Rhode Island coast near Newport or Narragansett. Lewis came from a privileged background, and that enabled him to pursue his art full time from an early age. He studied with the important early Hudson River artist Paul Weber, and early on concentrated on scenes near his native Philadelphia. By the age of 19 he had exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy and by 24 was an associate thereof. Lewis went on to paint landscape and marines up and down the Northeast coast, as well as scenes of the Adirondacks and the White Mountains. His earliest works are considered technically superior, more finely executed, and usually painted in oil; at least one fine and large work has sold at auction near six figures. Throughout his painting career, the artist was skilled in showing luminosity. A most highly prolific painter, especially from about 1875 on, it is said that at one point sales of Lewis paintings exceeded those of any other artist in America, making Lewis a commercial and personal success. Today his works are offered at fine auctions around the nation. This example in gouache and watercolor is in very good condition considering that it has traveled without glass. There is some puckering of the paper at top center above the tall masted ship, resulting perhaps from the manner in which the paper was laid on a board, and some paper oxidation expected in a work of its age. See several other works by Lewis in my shop.
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