St. Ives, Cornwall
Richard Hayley Lever, RBA (1875 – 1958)
Watercolour. Signed. Inscribed.
9¼” x 13½” (23.5 cm x 34.3 cm)
Provenance: Private collection, USA.
Richard Hayley Lever is one of the most important figures in the history of St. Ives art. He was arguably the most innovative painter working there in the first decade of the 20th Century when Cornwall was at the forefront of British art and St. Ives became renowned worldwide as a centre for marine and landscape painting. Born and educated in the Australian city of Adelaide, Lever travelled to Europe in the mid-1890s to complete his art studies, initially in London and Paris and, by late 1899, in St. Ives, where he enrolled in the art school run by Julius Olsson and Louis Grier. Lever spent 15 years in the vibrant Cornish fishing port, with its maze of cobbled courtyards, narrow winding streets and small, granite cottages. Its picturesque harbour and golden beaches were bathed in a translucently clear light and framed by a wild, romantic coast of spectacular cliffs and pounding surf. Here, Lever established an international reputation for his marine and harbour paintings, experimenting in a variety of styles. He was particularly influenced by Van Gogh, stimulated by his bold brushwork and use of vivid colour. By 1912, Lever had decided to move to the United States, where his first exhibits had already won many accolades. After several trips there on his own, he finally emigrated with his family in October 1914. His success in New York was instant and he was to have a profound influence on American impressionism. He was elected a member of The National Academy and was awarded life membership of The National Arts Club. Lever made his mark in America with scenes of St. Ives and continued to paint these for many years.