Stanley Lewis (1905 - 2009)

An early study for Hyde Park, late 1920’s

SKU: 8770
4 x 6 1/2 in. (10 x 16.5 cm)
irregular edges

Height – 10cm
Width – 16.5cm


The Artist’s Estate; Private Collection

Literature: The Unknown Artist: Stanley Lewis and his contemporaries, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum, 12th June – 5th September 2010, Liss Fine Art, 2010.

Hyde Park was Lewis’s entry for  the 1932 Rome Scholarship in Mural Painting. Rothenstei, Lewis’s tutor at the RCA was convinced that Lewis, having been runner up two years earlier, was capable of winning a scholarship. Still under the age of 25, by a matter of weeks, he was still just eligible to enter, but this would be his last chance.

Accordingly Lewis asked the Director of Education at Newport, where he had recently accepted the post of teaching assistant, for three months off:
I thought I would never get the chance to enter the Prix de Rome again but Rothenstein kept writing letters to me and encouraged me to enter adding, “you;ll win next time”.

Lewis prepared initial studies and cartoon at home, Llwyn-On, and then moved to London to complete canvas during first few months of 1931. He knew Hyde Park well from his days at the Royal College of Art – he loved going there  to sketch . The subject – a metropolitan scenescence – makes an interesting pendant to his Allegory of two years earlier. These two pictures might be seen as a discourse between Town and Country.   His choice of an overtly  modern subject might also have been to answer his critics who found that in Allegory “his field workers are much more conscious of Rome than of their legitimate business‚Ķ.‚Äù. The characters in Hyde Park show no such detachment.  The painting gives a remarkable account of a summers day in central London.   Stanley resisted criticism from his fellow student and fiance, Muriel Pemberton, who interfered with the painting insisting he should be more modern in his approach.  Similar pressure was applied by Stanley ‘s landlady and Aunt, Sally Taylor, herself a painter whose art took you beyond the normal world – abstract and expressionism and so on.  Stan you might as well be a camera she said sniffly when she saw my studies of the painting.  And that is it really, I felt an inner force burning to capture my world around exactly as I saw it in the reality that it was. 

Sample of framing:

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Stanley Lewis
1905 - 2009

Stanley Lewis (1905-2009) was reluctant to sell his art during his life-time. He kept all his major works. He later gave some to museums. He turned down offers from galleries, preferring to work without constraints, choosing to earn a much needed regular income through teaching (over 10 years at Newport School of Art and 22 years as Principal of Carmarthen School of Art). Stanley’s art has period charm. It occupies a backwater (rather than the mainstream) of British Art – this is the unmapped territory that art historians will increasingly look at as accounts of 20th Century British Art are revised. His work is highly distinctive and he remained faithful throughout his life to a graphic and stylised manner developed early on in his career. Perhaps the most enduring aspect of his legacy is the remarkable cycle of paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy celebrating Welsh subjects: The Welsh Dress, The Welsh Mole Catcher, The Welsh Farmer, and The Welsh Dresser. There is arguably no other series of genre paintings in British Art which capture so evocatively Welsh identity. Stanley also strongly identified with the land: on the one hand his calling to art was a vocation; on the other his approach was disarmingly unpretentious: ‘I must admit instinct has kept me on the straight-and-narrow path to carry on working my art into what I am: I am a farmer’s son and I have never craved to be in any one else’s shoes.’ Stanley produced little in the way of major paintings during the last decades of the 20th century, though he did continue to draw, (often reworking earlier drawings), and increasingly put his energy into producing and publishing his book illustrations. In his 101st year, in 2006, Stanley published a last edition of drawings under the title: Adventures in Animal Town, using computer software (Photoshop) to add colour to the remarkable images which half a decade earlier, in black and white, had graced the pages of the South Wales Evening Post. (Fig. 2) Stanley first contacted Liss Fine Art (by email!), aged 101, wanting to know what had happened to his former mentors Thomas Monnington and A.K. Lawrence. Stanley’s career spanned a large part of the 20th century. Yet the fruit of his labour was never publicly exhibited. This is the first ever exhibition of his work. Stanley put his longevity down to cigars, whisky and Michelangelo. He took great pleasure in helping prepare the notes in this catalogue. Recalling events from between 50 and 90 years ago it is remarkable how accurate his memory proved to be. It is sad that Stanley is not alive to see this exhibition. Asked, age 103, if he was finally ready for his first ever show, or whether he would like a little more time to prepare, he inhaled gently on his cigar and, with a puff of smoke and a faint chuckle, said: ‘I think I am ready’. The day before he died he asked Jenni his daughter to type up his final wishes: ‘… And when my exhibition is up and running, open a good bottle of champagne and celebrate and think of me. No doubt I will be there in spirit to keep an eye on things.

Lewis was born in Cardiff. He attended
Newport College of Art, 1923-6, and the Royal College of Art, 1926-30,
teaching at Newport College in the 193os. After war service he became
principal of Carmarthen School of Art for 22 years from 1946, then
retired and with his wife founded the Pram and Toy Museum at
Beckington, Somerset. He illustrated newspaper articles by his wife Min
Lewis and her book Laugharne and Dylan Thomas, in 1967, and had one-man
shows at various Laugharne Festivals. Showed for many years with Gwent
Art Society, SWG and elsewhere and with Michael Ayrton and Enzo
Plazzotta shared a three-man show at Bruton Gallery, Somerset. Newport
Museum and Art Gallery holds his work. Lewis’ show War Images there in
2003 was based on a large unfinished World War II painting and
preparatory draw¬ings which the artist donated to the collection.   His first retrospective, organised by Liss Llewellyn Fine Art in 2010, took place at Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum.


Stanley Lewis (1905 - 2009)
The snow laden garden at Llwyn-On, Croesyceiliog, circa 1935
Stanley Lewis (1905 - 2009)
Study for Right Hand Side of Hyde Park in Summer, 1931
Stanley Lewis (1905 - 2009)
Portrait of a Ploughman , circa 1936
Stanley Lewis (1905 - 2009)
Still life with bottle of Ale, circa 1925
Stanley Lewis (1905 - 2009)
Min, Hanging out washing, circa 1940
Stanley Lewis (1905 - 2009)
Hyde Park in Summer 1931
Stanley Lewis (1905 - 2009)
Cartoon for Hyde Park c.1931
Stanley Lewis (1905 - 2009)
Study for the Central Group of Allegory, c. 1929