American (1876-1958)


oil on canvas, 50 x 60 inches,
signed "Hayley Lever" lower left.

Hayley Lever…is one of the freshest and most vigorous painters who are still allied with the Academy. He does not depend upon stale academic recipes but prefers to see and paint things in his own way…his work shows an invigoratingly personal point of view. 

—Arts, 1929


At the turn of the nineteenth century, the ancient Cornish fishing town of St. Ives, England, was home to a thriving artists’ colony that lured both European as well as American artists to paint along the shores and piers. Richard Hayley Lever was a frequent visitor to St. Ives and painted ‘when the tide was out and when it was in, at all hours; sunrise, midday, sunset, and moonlight.’1


Lever was originally from Adelaide, Australia, and began his artistic training there at the Prince Alfred College. Upon graduation, he attended James Ashton’s Academy of the Arts, also in Adelaide, where he was encouraged to paint out-of-doors. Around 1894, Lever moved to England, settling and painting in London, and by 1899 he moved to St. Ives to study with the British marine painters Julius Olsson and Algernon Talmage, strong proponents of painting in plein air.


After a trip to the Continent in 1908, Lever was introduced to the works of Vincent van Gogh, and his style took on a more vivid color palette and bolder brushwork with an emphasis on line and two-dimensional form. He was profoundly influenced by the works of Van Gogh and in homage, he created a series of paintings called Van Gogh’s Hospital, Holland.


Lever immigrated to the United States in 1912, and settled in New York City, where he had a prosperous painting career. He painted a number of scenes of Manhattan and later opened a studio in Gloucester, Massachusetts that he maintained for many years. From 1919 to 1931 he taught at the Art Students League in New York City and exhibited his work throughout the United States.  Lever was a member of the National Academy of Design, National Arts Club, New Society of Artists, Royal British Artists, Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Royal West of England Academy. His works are displayed in art institutions throughout the country, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Detroit Institute of Arts,  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


1 Carol Lowrey, Hayley Lever 1876-1958 (New York: Spanierman Gallery, 2003), 13.

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