American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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Brilliant New Hayley Levers For Town Or Country!
Artist Name:        Richard Hayley Lever Artist Dates:        1876 - 1958        Title:           Early Spring in Woodstock
Painting Date:     
Undated, ca. 1920      Medium:             Oil on Canvas Signature:            Signed Lower Left       Provenance:         Spanierman Collection Condition:            Very Good
Size Unframed:   
30 1/2 x 26 1/2   
Artist Best Price:  
Offered At:          
Artist Name:        Richard Hayley Lever Artist Dates:        1876 - 1958        Title:                  The Gowanus Canal Painting Date:      Undated, ca. 1919      Medium:             Oil on Artist Board
Signed Lower Left       Provenance:         Private Collection      
Very Good
Size Unframed:   
10 1/4 x 14   
Artist Best Price:  
Offered At:          
Curator's Comments: Nowhere do we see Lever's wonderful Fauvism better expressed than in his New York harbor scenes, and especially so in the small yet masterful Gowanus Canal (which we are very proud to offer). Lever has put all of Brooklyn’s powerful industrial expansion into a brilliant single image that portrays the Williamsburg Bank building (the borough’s tallest) and the St. George hotel (once New York’s largest) poised alongside the industrial canal with its bascule bridges raised for a freighter being tugged out to the open harbor. The elements are monumental, but Lever has captured them with a fascinating and magnetic simplicity. The Gowanus canal, named after a Chief of the Canarsee Indians, was an engineering wonder, completed in 1868 and followed by George “Skyscraper” Post’s bank building finished in 1875 and then by Augustus Hatfield's 1885 massive Hotel St. George. This is an extremely important American work where using a contrived perspective Lever sets down Brooklyn's three biggest symbols as though they were children's blocks, to capture the magnificent innocence and  energy of pre-Depression American industrial society.  Lever’s work dates to the early 1920s, and certainly prior to his post-1930 withdrawal and the construction of the (view blocking) Gowanus Expressway soon after WWII.
Curator's Comments: Woodstock became a retreat for artists at the turn of the century, and the Woodstock Artists Association is one of the oldest continuing organizations of its kind. Its founders included painters John F. Carlson and  Andrew Dasburg. Other craftsman and painters had come as early as 1903 to live at Ralph Whitehead’s Byrdcliffe, which became a center of the Arts and Crafts Movement. In 1916, Birge Harrison brought the Art Students League to a summer campus in Woodstock. Lever began teaching for the League in New York in 1919 and soon was spending summers in Woodstock. Others  found camaraderie and a place to call home “on the Maverick,” a progressive community founded by poet and writer Hervey White. Early members of the association included painters George Bellows,  Robert Henri, Rockwell Kent, Leon Kroll and  Eugene Speicher. In his Early Spring in Wood-stock, Lever captures the total sense of the arts colony as a retreat nestled against Overlook Mountain. Early spring signifies the moment when creation emerges as Lever's greens prevail. His vision was years ahead of his time--when it comes to what Woodstock would come to mean after 1969. We have always wanted a big Lever because they are very scarce--less than 50 out of 1000 known oils are more than 14 inches tall, and his large canvases command a premium. 
Another View of Overlook Mountain
Lever at Sixty
This Woodstock Oil Brought $15,000
We think Lever created a truly American Fauvism by capturing the deep childlike essence hinted at in the work of Vlaminck, Duffy and Matisse (the last-named in his early 1904-05 mode). Born in Adelaide, Australia, Lever (supported by his wealthy tanner grandfather) studied painting in Paris and London. He settled in Cornwall’s artist colony of St. Ives (also the home of Pennsylvania expatriate Walter Elmer Schofield) in the mid 1890s, but then came to the U.S. for good in 1911. (This was at the urging of Ernest Lawson—one of the Eight and a close friend of the Pennsylvania Gang). But Lever rose far above the early Fauvist naďf style, by seeing and expressing its connection with the American innocence of the between the wars period and its roaring 1920’s speed-driven culture.  Lever was little seen after 1931, owing to alcoholism-related illness and physical decline. Some say he painted on shirt cardboards because that was all he could get in hospital, others claim he turned out these works for the price of a drink. He loved painting, and when arthritis took his right hand, Lever taught himself to paint with his left.  While it is true that Lever left behind a large cache of unseen works painted during his more than twenty-five years of isolation lasting until his death at his Mount Vernon home, we note that the State of New York has recently indicted one art dealer for forgeries that included works supposedly signed by this artist. We are wary of what appear to us to be more and more China-painting-factory forgeries of late-period works. Collectors should contact us for a professional opinion.
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