New York State of Mind: Martin Lewis in NYC and Beyond

Our March 2015 prints and drawings auction featured an impressive selection of Martin Lewis prints, including etchings and drypoints that represented the entire span of his printmaking career.

Lot 218: Wet Saturday is Lewis’s depiction of strollers getting caught in the rain


Australian-born Lewis (1881-1962) has become one of the most celebrated American printmakers working in the first half of the 20th century, creating approximately 150 prints between 1915 and 1953. While many of his contemporaries explored the ever-changing New York cityscape by meticulously capturing its evolving architecture, Lewis was fascinated with the ways in which people lived their everyday lives in the city.
Night scenes, like lot 222, Night in New York, were a popular motif of the artist.


Lewis spent two formative years in Japan, from 1920 to 1922. Though relatively short, this sojourn abroad proved indispensible to his development as an artist. Upon his return to the states he made a number of prints based on drawings from his time in Japan. These Japanese prints offer an interesting look at Lewis’s portrayal of nature and rural life.
Lot 211 is Lewis’s Trees at Gotemba, one of the Japanese subjects he depicted in his prints.
Lewis’ most masterful prints depict quotidian scenes of New York City life. His use of shadow and light to create mood, life and movement is most fully realized in his New York prints. The time of day, the weather, the lighting, the street-level views; each of these was important and added to the atmosphere of a scene. They are among his most celebrated works, incorporating all of the aspects that make his prints such cherished glimpses into New York’s bustling yesteryear, while simultaneously capturing the timelessness of city life.
Lot 221: Lewis’s masterful Glow of the City epitomizes his ability to capture the every day lives of city dwellers and their environs.
In our March 5 auction we feature several prints by Lewis that are exceedingly rare, some of which have never come up for auction before. These including The “El” Station, 1919 and The Equilibrists, 1939.
Lot 229, The Equilibrists, will make its auction debut on March 5.