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Richard Hayley Lever

Richard Hayley Lever was born in Adelaide, Australia. At an early age he showed artistic talent and in 1893 he traveled to England to study art in London. During his stay he began painting at an artist’s colony in Cornwall in the picturesque fishing village of Saint Ives. It was there that his love of painting seascapes began. Even in this early stage of his career, Lever was a prolific artist and submitted his work to competitions in England, France, and America. American artists frequently visited the colony at Saint Ives, and Lever befriended Ernest Lawson on one of his trips there. In 1911 Lawson persuaded Lever to immigrate to America, where he thought the artist would enjoy great success. In 1912 Lever and his family arrived in New York. The new city provided the artist with a wealth of fresh and exciting subject matter; from Times Square to Central Park, Lever sketched everything in sight.

Not long after his arrival in New York, Lever discovered the New England coast, which reminded him of Cornwall. He began painting the fishing fleets of Gloucester and the yachts of Marblehead, producing a body of work that became immensely popular in the New York art market. For many years Lever enjoyed financial success and critical acclaim. The Great Depression and changing taste in art, importantly influenced by the 1913 Armory Show, adversely affected many artists, including Lever.The advent of European modernism made Lever’s painting style seem passé. At the end of his career he relied on teaching privately to make a living. Lever’s paintings and drawings are in numerous collections throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, and the Sydney Art Gallery.