WILLIAM LESTER STEVENS
American (Massachusetts) 1888-1969
"SPRING BLOOMS ON THE FARM"
Watercolor and Gouache on Illustration Board
Signed W. LESTER STEVENS l.r.
Housed in a 22k Custom Giltwood Frame, Beneath Museum Glass
Books: 29 including Curtis, Judith A, W. Lester Stevens, N.A.
Periodicals: 5 articles American Art Review, including W. Lester Stevens, N.A. (1888-1969,) October 2003
Image Size: 14” x 18”
William Lester Stevens was the youngest member to exhibit in New York’s National Academy, with 5 paintings accepted at
age 18, in 1906. Stevens was born in Rockport, Massachusetts, and is considered one of Cape Anne’s leading painters. He
was compulsive about painting outdoors daily, often tying his easels down with rocks on windy days. He was prolific, producing
over 5000 paintings during his lifetime, and receiving more awards than any other living artist of the era. He also taught at Princeton
and Boston Universities.
His bold brushwork, loaded with color, and often with black-outlined subject matter, depicted the farms, quarries, and fishing
industry of Cape Anne, as well as North Carolina, where he worked shortly. The presented work embodies the best of Stevens’
strong compositions and coloration, with the usual slashing directional brush strokes. Its life under glass makes the condition
pristine, with brilliant colors.
Stevens is represented in 15 museums, including The Smithsonian. He has been the subject of one monograph in book form
(W. Lester Stevens, N.A. (Judith Curtis), and one by American Art Review, October 2003.
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Birthplace: Rockport, MA
Death place: Greenfield, MA
Addresses: Rockport, MA, until 1934; Boston, Springfield, Conway, MA
Profession: Landscape painter, teacher
Studied: with Parker S. Perkins in Rockport; Boston Museum of Fine Arts School; in Europe after WWI
Exhibited: National Academy of Design, 1906 (at age 18); Art Institute of Chicago, 1911-38; Pennsylvania Academy of
Fine Arts Annual, 1912-37; Corcoran Gallery biennials, 1914-28 (5 times, incl. 4th prize, 1921); Connecticut Academy of
Fine Arts, 1924 (prize); 1927 (prize); American Watercolor Society, 1928 (prize); New Haven Paint & Clay Club, 1929
(prize), 1933 (prize), 1942 (prize); Springfield AL, 1925 (prize), 1932 (prize), 1953-55 (prizes); Quincy, 1932 (medal);
Springville, UT, 1931 (prize), 1941 (prize); Women's Club, MA, 1930-33 (prizes),1934 (prize), 1937 (prize), 1938 (prize);
Salons of Am., 1934; Meriden Art & Crafts Assn., 1938-42 (prizes); Washington Landscape Club, 1939 (prize);
Washington Watercolor Club, 1942 (prize); Washington Art Club, 1941 (prize); Rockport Artists Association, 1953 (prize),
1956 (prize), 1957 (prize); North Shore Artists Association, 1953 (prize); Ogunquit, ME, 1952-54 (prizes), 1956 (prizes);
Gloucester, MA, 1958 (prize).
Member: National Academy; Associate member of the National Academy of Design, 1935; American Watercolor Society;
Rockport Artists Association (founder, 1923); Gallery on Moors; Springfield (MA) AL; Guild Boston Artists; Philadelphia
Watercolor Club; NY Watercolor Club; New Haven Paint & Clay Club; Gloucester Society of Artist; North Shore Artists
Boston Watercolor Club.
Work: Canton Art Institute; Hickory Museum of Art; Asheville Museum of Art; Rochester Memorial Art Gallery; Springfield
Museum of Fine Arts; Boston Arts Club; Birmingham (AL) Public Library; Gloucester (MA) High School.; Rockport (MA) High
School; Tewksbury (MA) State Sanitarium; Mint Museum Art; WPA murals, USPOs, Dedham, Rockport, both in Massachusetts;
Boston City Club; Louisville (KY) Art Museum; Springville (UT) Arts Association; Wilson, Wolcott, Gavin schools, all in Boston
Comments: He left Rockport in 1934 for western Massachusetts, settling in Conway in 1944. Nicknamed "Steve," he was
considered eccentric, and compulsive about painting outdoors every day. He produced about 5,000 paintings. After a summer
painting on Monhegan, he said "I’ve done 60 and got 6 good ones!" His early works have a heavy impasto in oil while his later
works are often of light washes in acrylic on Masonite. He taught for short periods at Boston University and Princeton, but held
frequent classes at his Conway studio as well as in Washington, DC and at the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts. He took his students to
Asheville, NC, New Orleans, Charleston SC, Quebec and Gaspe, Canada; and in the 1930s Stevens ran a summer art school
at Grand Manan.
Sources: Who’s Who 1959; Charles Movalli, article in American Artist (Apr., 1986, p.52); WW47; Curtis, Curtis, and Lieberman, 116, 186;
Falk, Exh. Record Series; info. courtesy North Shore AA.
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