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R. Hayley Lever SOLD


Gallery Database:

"The Gowanus Canal," Oil on Artist Board, 10 1/4 x 14, Signed. SORRY SOLD.

Brilliant Hayley Lever Is All About Brooklyn!

Curator.s Comment:

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. Certainly one of Lever's best works ever.


Cape Cod in Autumn brought $65,500


Richard Hayley Lever (1876-1958) at sixty

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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