American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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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 naif 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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Curator's Comments: 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). 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.
Brilliant Hayley Lever Is All About Brooklyn!
Richard Hayley Lever
(1876-1958) at sixty
Harlem River at Dyckman Street sold for $8,000 in 2021
"The Gowanus Canal," Oil on Artist Board, 10 1/4 x 14, Signed