John Frederick Lewis

John Frederick Lewis
Birth and death
1804 - 1876
Profession details
Painter of Oriental Subjects
Related place
Alistair Grant

John Frederick Lewis, (1804-1876), painter of oriental subjects. He became friends with and was initially influenced by Edwin Landseer. In 1837 Lewis left Britain, and did not return until 1851. He went to Rome, and then in 1840, travelled to via Albania, Corfu, Athens, and Smyrna to Constantinople, where he stayed for a year, and where he met David Wilkie. In 1841 Lewis followed Wilkie to Egypt, where he lived until 1851. After visiting Lewis in 1844, William Makepeace Thackeray published a comic study of the artist living in oriental luxury 'like a languid lotus-eater' in his 'Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Gran Cairo' of 1846. In 1854 he bought The Holme at Walton-on-Thames, where he lived for the rest of Lewis's life. The intense detail of his works, bright colour and brilliant light give his paintings a similarity to his contemporary Pre-Raphaelites painters, but Lewis's pictures are not so theatrical, and he never strayed into medievalism. Rather his art foresees the languid, opulent feel of Aestheticism in the 1870s and 1880s. Despite living in the east, like many Victorian painters Lewis' Orientalism is more fantasy than reality. He corresponded regularly with Ruskin and others in the London art world, including Millais and Edward Lear, both of whom visited Walton, he lived in seclusion at Walton-on-Thames, where his wife would set out his brushes each morning.

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