LEWIS, CHARLES

(b. 1753, d. 1794)

Fruit and Flower Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was born in Gloucester in 1753. He was apprenticed to a manufacturer of japanned tea-boards in Birmingham, and there learned the rudiments of his art. In 1772 he was in London, and, from the Rainbow Coffee-House in King Street, he sent some fruit-pieces to the Society of Artists. Soon after he went to Dublin, but, meeting with little encouragement there as a painter, he turned his attention to the stage, and when Michael Arne, the musician, opened Crow Street Theatre on 18th January, 1776, with Garrick's dramatic romance of "Cymon," Lewis made his debut as Merlin. In the following month he was seen as Pluto in the pantomime of the "Rape of Proserpine." Arne's speculation quickly proved a failure, and with his retirement from management Lewis left the stage and returned to painting.

An advertisement in the "Hibernian Journal" in 1777 announced that he had begun flower and fruit painting at No. 59 Mechlenburgh Street, and also that he taught painting in its various branches. In 1779 he sent, from Essex Quay, fruit pieces to the exhibition of the Society of Artists in William Street. In 1780 he was at No. 44 Essex Street, and contributed four fruit pieces to the same Society. Soon afterwards he was in London, and exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1786 and 1790. He was in Holland for a short time, and then went to Scotland on the invitation of his friend Lord Gardenstone. He died in Edinburgh on 12th July, 1794. Fruit pieces by Lewis, painted in oil, are occasionally met with in Ireland. They are not without merit, being well painted and good in colour. An example, signed and dated 1784, is in the possession of Lt.-Colonel Hopton Scott, at Locksley, Shankill; and two, signed and dated 1781, belonged to Mr. J. C. Nairn, 51 Denzille Street, in 1904.

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