Richard Hayley LEVER

1876—1958

Lever was born and grew up in Adelaide, Australia.  He showed an early talent for art and devoted his attention to learning the craft during his school days, encouraged by his grandfather who ultimately left him a modest inheritance. This enabled Lever to travel to Europe in 1893, spending time in both Paris and London. He exhibited at the Paris Salon (1897-8), and by 1902 had arrived in St Ives.

Julius OLSSON and Louis GRIER became good friends in the town, and he was an organiser of cricket games along with John William ASHTON (Will).  American artists occasionally visited St Ives, and Lever befriended Ernest LAWSON who admired his work. In 1911 Lawson persuaded Lever to emigrate to America, saying that he would have greater success there. Arriving in New York in 1912 with his family, Lever was fascinated and excited by the subjects totally new to his experience and titillated his imagination; he began to sketch everything in sight -  the tall buildings, the great ocean liners on the Hudson River, Times Square at night, and Central Park - and snow, which he had rarely encountered in Europe.

Lever soon discovered the New England coast which reminded him of Cornwall, and began to paint the fishing fleets of Gloucester and the elegant yachts of Marblehead, producing scenes which became popular on the New York art market. Major galleries such as William Macbeth, Ferargil, Daniel and Rehn gave him exhibitions, and he continued to gather awards such as a Gold medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco in 1915. The National Arts Club honored him with Life membership, and he was elected as a member of the National Academy. 

The influence of Vincent Van Gogh was strong in his later work.  From 1919 until 1931 Lever taught life classes and still life painting at the Art Students' League of New York. He also maintained a summer studio in Gloucester in the 1920's from which he traveled to Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and the Canadian maritime provinces, turning out scores of spectacular marines, which entered the permanent Collections of many important museums and those of eager private collectors.