American (Massachusetts) 1888-1969







Watercolor and Gouache on Illustration Board

Housed in a 22k Custom Giltwood Frame, Beneath Museum Glass


Museums: 15, including Smithsonian, Wadsworth Atheneum, Rockport Art Association,

Hunter Museum, Museum of Fine Arts-Springfield, Hickory Museum


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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STEVENS, William Lester (1888-1969)


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

Association, 1923-69;

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.

This biography is drawn from the "Who Was Who in American Art" , the reference book on the cultural life in the United States.



Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Louisiana State University Museum of Art

Rockport Art Association

George Walter Vincent Smith Museum

Museum of Fine Arts-Springfield

Colby College Museum of Art

Asheville Art Museum/Crawley Museum

The Hickory Museum of Art

Rochester Memorial Art Gallery

Hunter Museum of American Art

Museum of Art at Brigham Young University

Springville Museum of Art

Wright Museum of Art

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts



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