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.
Painter of landscapes and seascapes
works and access
Works include: Cottage Near Truro (1905); Great Western Railway Viaduct, St Austell (c1910)
Access to work: Lever's paintings and drawings are in numerous collections throughout the United States, Europe and Australia, including the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the Phillips Memorial Gallery, Washington DC, and Sydney Art Gallery, Australia.
In Cornwall: RCM, Truro has Study of Village Cottages (oil on canvas)
Paris Salon 1897-8, 1910;
New English Arts Club Winter 1910
Carnegie Institute, Pitsburg 1912
William Macbeth, Ferargil, Daniel and Rehn January 1915, March 1909, March 1911
Rochester Art Gallery September 1914
Pittsburg July 1914
Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco 1915 (Gold medal winner)
The National Arts Club (Life Membership)
National Academy (US)
misc further info
Cornish Telegraph 25 Mar 1909
St Ives Times 19 Nov 1910, 25 Mar 1911, 31 May 1912, 30 Jan 1914, 17 Jul 1914
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall;
Holmes (1993) An Artistic Tradition
Public Catalogue Foundation (2007) Cornwall & Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Collections
Tovey (2003) Creating a Splash
Tovey (2009) St Ives: A Social History
Wormleighton (1998) Morning Tide;