Drypoint, 1928. 250x303 mm; 9 3/4x11 3/4 inches, full margins. Edition of approximately 49. Signed in pencil, lower right. A luminous, richly-inked impression of this very scarce print.
We have found only 9 other impressions of this drypoint at auction in the past 30 years.
Lewis (1881-1962) had met Edward Hopper approximately 15 years after his arrival in the United States in 1900. The two artists shared discontent over their commercial careers. In 1927, Lewis was given a solo exhibition at Kennedy & Company in New York and successive shows at the gallery were so well received that Lewis, like Hopper after his own first taste of success, stopped commercial work after 1929.
Lewis's career was built upon his technical virtuosity in printmaking. Lewis's first interest in printmaking has been tied to his work for the Sydney newspaper Bulletin in the 1890s. While in Australia, he was exposed to works of several important etchers, including Australian artist Arthur Streeton, as well as Seymour Haden (Whistler's brother-in-law), Rembrandt, Charles Meryon, and James A. M. Whistler, but there was no known attempt to etch before Lewis reached the United States. Lewis's first documented print, Smoke Pillar, Weehawken, printed in 1915, (see McCarron 1) has enough technical skill to argue that this was not the artist's first attempt (he was known to have destroyed unsatisfactory impressions). The same year, Lewis encouraged Hopper to take up printmaking and gave him technical advice. After this exchange, Hopper created his own etching Paris Street Scene with Carriage, 1915-18 (see Levin 6). While Lewis would employ aquatint and other processes in conjunction with etching, Hopper continued to work with only etching and drypoint. Nevertheless, the two artists would use largely the same subject matter and compositional elements, like cutting angles and the interplay between light and shadow. McCarron 69.