Maud Lewis (1903-1970) was famous in her lifetime for her brightly coloured and endearing paintings of rural Nova Scotia. Working from her cabin on the side of the highway in Marshalltown, in Digby County, she produced hundreds of small works that captured aspects of country life that were rapidly changing.
Until now, the story of her difficult life has dominated the discussion of her art: her triumph over her physical disabilities and poverty, the harsh treatment she received at the hands of her family, and her alliance by chance with her husband Everett Lewis, who enabled her successful painting career over many decades. This show, however, will stress the aesthetic aspect of Maud Lewis’s achievement, looking carefully at her serial repetition of images and motifs across her career, and the dizzying variety that she brings to the problem of picture making.
From her black cats and kittens, to her cart horses and oxen hauling logs, to her quayside scenes of ships in port and the Maritime landscape in all seasons, Lewis made paintings that still delight in their optimism and buoyant vitality.
Have a look inside Maud Lewis’ famous painted house, on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.