|Maude Lewis 1903-1970|
Maude was born into an affluent family, but her appearance and disabilities prevented her from garnering any significant education and was removed from school at the age of 14, with no more than a grade 4 education. She had little chance of a good marriage because of her disabilities and at the death of her parents, Her father in 1935 and her Mother in 1937, Her brother saw to it that she was sent to live with an aunt in Digby.As was common at the time , Maude's brother inherited the family business and money... Maude was left with nothing. Destitute and reliant on the reluctant kindness of her aunt, she found employment as a house keeper for a local Fishmonger, named Everett Lewis. She and Everett were married shortly after. Everett had a reputation as a miserly and cantankerous fellow, life was not to be easy.
|The Lewis Home|
As time passed and her arthritis advanced, her mobility and strength decreased, and she could no longer work around the house, Maude began to paint. She began with cards, and notes as she was taught by her mother as a child. Everett sold them to his customers as he made deliveries to supplement their meager income. She then began to paint on found objects, items that others had disposed of. Then on to any inexpensive surface. She used Oil paint, boat paint, and inexpensive hobby paint, whatever was at hand. and when there was nothing to paint on.. She painted her home,decorating it with bright flowers , and butterflies.
Maude and her husband sold her paintings to tourists and locals as a means of survival, often they would sell for as little as $2.00 and larger pieces for $5. This was to become their sole means of income as time passed.
Painting from daily life and the surrounding country side, she worked right from the jar, tube, or bottle, and never mixed colors. She used whatever brushes she could scrounge or buy cheaply,(hairs from them are often found in her paintings.)
Her work exhibits an innate understanding of proportion, perspective, and composition., and while simplistic and primitive in style, there is an underlying sophistication in her paintings. A beauty that is undeniable and inescapable... the spirit of the artist shines through.
Her health and strength continued to deteriorate, and Maude succumbed to pneumonia in 1970. She painted until the day she died. Her husband Everett was murdered 9 yrs later by an intruder looking for the fortune that was said to have been hidden in and around the little Lewis home.
The Lewis Home has been restored and rebuilt and is on permanent display at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. In Halifax Nova Scotia. Along with a collection of her works. Original Maud Lewis paintings that she sold for 2 dollars now sell today for thousands.
Just a smidgen of Art History.