John Frederick Lewis

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John Frederick Lewis
An Interior with Armor and Weaponry
Watercolor on paper.
7 3/4 x 11 15/16 inches (196 x 287 mm)
Gift of Charles Ryskamp in memory of Elizabeth M. Riley.

Lewis came from a family of painters and printmakers, and his talents developed naturally within the family circle. By 1827, however, he had turned to watercolor, developing an accomplished technique that owes something to David Wilkie, who specialized in large, historical paintings and whose style he especially admired. Lewis decided to concentrate on topographical views and picturesque genre subjects. He began to travel widely in search of motifs, first in Scotland and then to Spain and Morocco, producing a series of flamboyant watercolors that brought him a great deal of attention. His future course was decided in 1837, however, when he left England for an extended tour of Europe and the Near East, not returning to London until 1851, by which time he had received wide critical acclaim for his views of markets, bazaars, and, above all, harem subjects. It is very possible that the present drawing represents the artist's studio, which might have contained such paraphernalia as the suits of armor, sword, crossbow, rich draperies, frames, and large Oriental vase depicted in this work. To judge from the style, it may well have been executed around 1835. According to Patrick Noon (correspondence with Charles Ryskamp, 2001), the framed picture within the drawing is Richard Parkes Bonington's "Francis Ier and Marguerite de Navarre". The composition is that of the lost version exhibited at the 1827-28 Salon, a variant of which is in the Wallace Collection, London.

W. M. Brady & Co., New York; Charles Ryskamp.

New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, "The World Observed: Five Centuries of Drawings from the Collection of Charles Ryskamp", 2001, no. 95, repr. in color.

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