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Hayley Lever

Hayley Lever
Hayley Lever
Born (1876-09-28)28 September 1876
Bowden Tannery, Adelaide, South Australia
Died 6 December 1958(1958-12-06) (aged 82)
New York, United States
Field Painting
Training Adelaide’s Prince Alfred College, Ashton’s Academy of Arts
Movement Impressionism,
Modernism and
Awards National Academy of Design’s National Arts Club (1915),
Amsterdam Olympic Medal for Painting (1928)

Hayley Lever (28 September 1876 - 6 December 1958) was an Australian-American painter, etcher, lecturer and art teacher.

Life and work

Richard Hayley Lever was born in Australia on 28 September 1876. Lever demonstrated artistic talent early on, and spent his entire life focusing on this as his craft.

In 1899, Lever's grandfather died accidentally, and the subsequent inheritance was sufficient for Lever to finance a trip to England to further his career in painting. He moved to St. Ives, a fishing port and artistic colony on the Cornish coast. The town's reputation as a centre for marine painting was largely due to Julius Olsson, who became a prominent British seascape painter.[1] In St. Ives, Lever shared a studio with Frederick Waugh, and studied painting techniques under the Impressionists Olsson and Algernon Talmage. Lever also painted in the French port villages of Douarnenez and Concarneau, Brittany, directly across the English Channel from St. Ives.

In 1904 and 1905, Lever made a trip back to Adelaide, where he painted seascapes and taught. In 1906, upon returning to Europe, he married Aida Smith Gale in St. Ives’ Parish Church. In 1908, Lever did a series of paintings called Van Gogh's Hospital, Holland expressing the profound influence he felt from that artist.

In 1911, Ernest Lawson, an Impressionist painter, persuaded Lever to move to America, saying he would have greater success there. Lever arrived in New York City in 1912 and painted views of the Hudson River, Times Square and Central Park. Upon discovering the American east coast, he painted in Gloucester, MA for several summers and at Marblehead, MA. Both artists developed spontaneous, bold painting styles, and Lever was accepted into Lawson’s circle of friends: Robert Henri, William Glackens, John Sloan and George Bellows. He exhibited with this group regularly, but eventually left New York to settle in Massachusetts.

From 1919 to 1931, Lever taught art classes at the Art Students League of New York where he maintained a Gloucester studio and often traveled to paint on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. He offered this message to his students: "Art is the re-creation of mood in line, form and color. If I were confined to my own back yard for the rest of my life, I'd still have more pictures in my mind than I would have time to paint. Art is nothing but having a good time." Lever went to Pittsburgh in 1922 as an art juror for the Carnegie International exhibition.[2]

In 1924, Lever was commissioned to paint a White House.

By 1930, Lever had moved to Caldwell, New Jersey, staying there until 1938, when he moved to Mount Vernon, New York. While living in New York, Lever painted marines and landscapes in New Jersey, Vermont, New England, New York and the Canadian Maritimes. Throughout his life, he traveled and painted extensively, including Nova Scotia and Grand Manan Island in Canada, the Bahamas and Florida, while often returning to Europe. In 1933, Hayley was named Director of the Green Mountains summer art school at Smugglers Notch, Stowe Vermont.[3] Lever also taught painting classes at the Forum School of Art in Bronxville, New York from 1934 to 1935.

In later life, Lever was inflicted with arthritis in his right hand, which prevented him from further travel and forced him to concentrate on still-life subjects instead. As his arthritis advanced, he taught himself to paint with his left hand. However, following the death of his wife in 1949, Lever was confined to his home, where he continued to paint from 1953 until his death.

Hayley Lever died on December 6, 1958 at his home in Mount Vernon, New York. News of his death surprised some: Lever had all but disappeared from public view over two decades earlier, despite once having been enormously popular and critically acclaimed. Even so, he had continued to paint in the intervening years to such a degree that colleagues and dealers alike were confounded by the cache of unsold, and largely unseen, paintings in his Mount Vernon barn.[4] Since his death, he has been recognized as one of the leaders of American Impressionism in the 20th century.[5]

Displayed works/exhibitions

Displayed works

  • White House
  • The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • Baltimore Museum of Art
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan
  • The Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey
  • The Brooklyn Museum of Art
  • The Nantucket Historical Association, Massachusetts
  • New Britain Museum of Art, Connecticut
  • Corcoran Gallery of Art,Washington, DC
  • Dallas Museum of Art
  • The Witchita Art Museum
  • Des Moines Art Museum
  • Fort Worth Museum of Art
  • L.A. County Museum of Art
  • The Westmoreland Museum of American Art
  • Telfair Academy
  • National Arts Club
  • National Academy of Design
  • Memphis Art Museum; Australia Art Museum
  • Cincinnati Art Museum
  • The Addison Gallery of American Art
  • Sydney Art Gallery of Australia


2010 "Gilded Age to Modern Era Paintings: An Exhibition of European and American Fine Art", Galerie Werner, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2010 "American Still-Life Paintings (1829–2009)", Spanierman Gallery, New York, NY
2005 "Art In Bloom - Works from the Permanent Collection", Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL
2003 "Hayley Lever (1876–1958)", Spanierman Gallery, New York, NY
1922–1946 The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
1945 Westchester Arts & Crafts
1945 Art Institute of Chicago; Machbeth, Rehn, Ferargil, Daniels, French, & Company; Clayton Galleries
1914–1941 Corcoran Gallery Biennials, New York, New York
1940 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Annual Exhibition
1940 National Arts Club, New York, New York
1938 National Academy of Design, New York, New York
1936 National Academy of Design, New York, New York
1936 Newark Art Club, Newark, New Jersey
1934 Salons of America, New York, New York
1913–1932 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Annual Exhibition
1927 Frank K. M. Rehn Gallery, New York City (two-person show with Jan Matulka)
1926 Sesqui-Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia
1922 National Arts Club, New York, New York
1920 Society of Independent Artists, New York, New York
1920 Buffalo Fine Arts Academy
1918 Philadelphia Watercolor Club, Pennsylvania
1914–1916 National Arts Club, New York, New York
1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California
1914 Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester
1914 Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts
1914 National Academy of Design, New York, New York
1905 New Salon, Paris
1904 The Royal Academy, London



  • Shadowland Magazine, November 1922. "Hayley Lever, Individualist (The artist who believes that man may draw inspiration from all sources, but that the only deadly sin is imitation)" by Holger Cahill. p. 11, 77
  • Art & Antiques, 2003 March, Gallery Watch
  • American Art Review, 1996 March, Valley of Work: Scenes of Industry
  • Hayley Lever, Carol Lowrey, Spanierman Gallery, New York: 2003
  • Hayley Lever, 1876-1958 : works in various media : an exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum, June 23-August 13, 1978.
  • Falk, Peter H., Who Was Who In American Art. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1985. P.368.


External links

  • Art Encyclopedia
  • The Getty Museum Union list of Artist names
  • Hayley Lever examples on
  • "The Exhibition", 1905 article from The Advertiser, Adelaide, 22 March 1905.

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