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LEWIS, Maude

Ohio, Nova Scotia, 1903
Digby, Nova Scotia, 1970
Biography synopsis
Maude Lewis was born in Ohio, Yarmouth Country, Nova Scotia. She started painting Christmas cards with her mother and then sold them on the streets of Yarmouth. When her parents died she went to live with an aunt in Digby, Nova Scotia. In 1938 she married Everett Lewis and moved to a small one-room cabin near No.2 Highway west of Digby, at a place called Marshalltown. Her husband sold fish from village to village and she sometimes sold some of her cards. He encouraged her to paint and bought her artist’s supplies and cut small pieces of plywood (or beaverboard, which is a type of pulpboard) that would allow her to paint with her rheumatoid arthritis afflicted arms. She passed her days painting in the doorway of her house and people began to know her and to buy her work. Her story soon became famous; in 1965 an article in the Moncton Times talked about her story. The same year CBC-TV’s Telescope produced the programme “The Once-Upon-a-Time World of Maude Lewis” that talked about her life and paintings and also included comments by Bill Ferguson and Claire Stenning, owners of the Ten Mile House Gallery, and Halifax artist John Cook. In 1967 her work was included at the Centennial Exhibition of Primitive Art in New Brunswick at the Beaverbrook House, Saint John. In 1970 she died at the Digby General Hospital. Some of her paintings are in the White House and the Legislative Buildings of the Province of Nova Scotia. Some collectors of her paintings include R.L. Stanfield (former premier of Nova Scotia), John C. Whitaker (an aide to Richard Nixon), among many others. Her use of color and style was admired for its naturalist approach, both technically and thematically; she did not mixed colors but used them straight out of the tube and she mostly painted simple everyday life scenes of Nova Scotia.
Media used
File & Archive locations
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Edmonton Art Gallery, AB - Library
London Public Library, ON
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, QC
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, QC - Media Centre
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Vancouver Art Gallery, BC - Library
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Archives du centre acadien de l'université Ste-Anne, NS
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, AB - Archives & Library
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC

Writings about
"About This and That - The Passing Of Maude." Digby Courier 6 Aug. 1970.
"Digby artist dies; her primitive style paintings in the White House." Mail Star (Halifax) 1 Aug. 1970.
"Digby's Artist, Maude Lewis, Laid To Rest." Digby Courier 6 Aug. 1970.
"Digby's Artist, Mrs. Maude Lewis Dies." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 1 Aug. 1970.
"Maude In Hospital." Digby Courier 27 Mar. 1969.
"Once Upon-A-Time World of Maude Lewis." Moncton Times 20 Nov. 1965.
"Telescope Visits Painter Maude Lewis Of Digby." Yarmouth Herald 24 Nov. 1965.
"The Maud Lewis Touch." Chronicle Herald (Halifax) 6 Aug. 1970.
Barnard, Murray. "The Little Old Lady Who Paints Pretty Pictures." Star Weekly (Toronto) 10 Jul. 1965.
Boutilier, Alicia & Tobi Bruce. The Artist Herself : Self-portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists / L'artiste elle-même : autoportraits de femmes artistes au Canada. Kingston, ONT.: Agnes Etherinton Art Centre. Hamilton: Art Gallery Hamilton, 2015.
Carr, Angela, ed. Raven Papers: Remembering Natalie Luckyj (1945-2002) Newcastle, ON: Penumbra Press, 2010.
d'Entremont, Peter. The illuminated life of Maud Lewis [videorecording]. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1998.
MacDonald, Colin S. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. (Volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker) Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.
McCoy, Doris. "Frail Woman with A Bold Brush." Atlantic Advocate (Fredericton) Jan. 1967.
Morton, Erin. Ordinary Affects: Folk Art, Maud Lewis, and the Social Aesthetics of the Everyday. Journal of Canadian Art History 34.2 (2013): 80-107.
Vowel, Jean. "The Sketch Pad." Times (Port Alberni) 1 Dec. 1965.

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