American, 1888-1969

Point Pleasant, Delaware River, ca. 1927-1929

oil on canvas
signed lower right "W. Lester Stevens"
42 x 48 inches

  • Provenance: A New Jersey estate; Private Collection, Massachusetts.

    Framed dimensions: 46 7/8 x 53 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches

    William Lester Stevens was born in Rockport, Massachusetts, a seaside town that had been an established destination for artists. He completed his early formal training with Parker Perkins and then attended the Boston Museum School as a student of Edmund Tarbell, Frank Benson, Philip Hale and William Paxton.

    In 1917, Stevens joined the Army and was sent to Europe. He painted and sketched while in Europe and when he returned to Rockport found that it had become a destination for artists including Frank Duveneck, Childe Hassam, Leon Kroll and Jonas Lie. Together with his friend, Aldro T. Hibbard, Stevens was instrumental in organizing the Rockport Art Association in 1921 exhibiting the works of fifty area artists.Their shared goal was to make fine art more accessible to a broader audience. Stevens would continue to pursue these goals later in his career by organizing the Conway Festival of the HIlls and the Berkshire Arts Festival.

    As an established artist, Stevens first taught in Rockport and then from 1925-1926 at Boston University and from 1927-1929 at Princeton. He traveled in the south and had one-man exhibitions in Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina, where his work was well received.

    When speaking of Stevens few are aware of his time spent painting in the New Hope, Pennsylvania area from 1927 to 1929. In 1927, he was appointed an instructor of freehand drawing and watercolor at Princeton University. According to his exhibition records, Stevens exhibited two paintings at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with New Hope area subjects, "Winter in New Jersey",1929, and "Lumberville" in 1930. In addition, a painting titled "Lumberville" was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1929 and at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930.

    During his time at Princeton, Stevens was extremely productive and exhibited extensively. In 1928, Stevens exhibited at the American Watercolor Society and won the William S. Delano Prize. He also exhibited at the National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Despite his rigorous academic schedule, he produced enough paintings during 1928 to send works to the New Haven Paint and Clay Club where Winter in New Jersey won the Mansfield Prize. Also, during this time he had a one man show at the American Association of University Women at the Public Library in Birmingham, Alabama, followed by an exhibition of over thirty oil paintings at the J.B. Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1929, Stevens gave up his teaching position at Princeton and returned to Rockport.

    In an article written by Charles Movalli for the 'American Artist' he wrote: "Stevens loved to talk about art - and himself. Steve thought he was the only painter in the world, a friend remembers fondly. He used to joke that 'only God and Lester Stevens can make a tree. He never tired of talking about the time his hero, Edward Redfield, the great outdoor painter, saw a Stevens painting in a show and said, "That kid's going to go far." It is likely that Redfield and his paintings of Point Pleasant first inspired Stevens to visit the area."

    In 1934, the Stevens family left Rockport and moved to Conway, Massachusetts where the artist remodeled an old farmhouse and built a studio facing Mount Monadnock. He painted throughout his entire life and died in Conway in 1969. By 1964 he had won more awards than any other living artist except for Sargent.

    Tags: American Impressionist, American Impressionism, oil painting, New Hope School, Cape Ann School, Rockport artist, Delaware, Pennsylvania Impressionism
  • Condition: overall good condition; there are two repairs apparent under UV, one about 2 x 3 inches in the left tree, another linear repair lower center, approximately 12 x 1 inch; UV photos available upon request

    We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Shannon’s is merely a subjective qualified opinion. Frames on all paintings are sold "As Is". Frames may need some conservation. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD “AS IS” IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE. 

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