Martin Lewis, Spring Night, Greenwich Village, a drypoint

United States of America, AD 1930

Martin Lewis (1880–1962) was born and raised in Castlemaine, Australia. By 1900 he had emigrated to America, where he settled in New York and found work in commercial illustration. Following the success of his first solo exhibition in 1929, Lewis gave up commercial work to focus on printmaking. However, struck by the effects of the Depression, Lewis was forced to leave New York in 1932 and, although he returned to the city in 1936, public interest in his etchings had ceased and by his death he was a forgotten artist.

The location of this scene is Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, New York. The image includes many anecdotal scenes such as the lovers embracing in the dark doorway and the illuminated shop interior with a cobbler at work. A rough preparatory sketch shows that Lewis was particularly concerned with the positioning of the shadows cast on the pavement. The velvety shadows were achieved by using drypoint through a textured ground obtained by pressing sandpaper on the copper plate.

This drypoint proved to be a critical success, Lewis received the Charles M. Lea Prize from the Philadelphia Print Club for it in 1931.

P. McCarron, The Prints of Martin Lewis (New York, M. Hausberg, 1995)

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Image: © The estate of Martin Lewis, Courtesy Robert K. Newman, The Old Print Shop, Inc., New York

Height: 25.1 cm
Width: 31.3 cm

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