Martin Lewis, “Tree”, Drypoint, Unknown Date, 32 x 25 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum
In 1900, Martin Lewis left Australia for the United States. His first job was in San Francisco, painting stage decorations for William McKinley’s presidential campaign of 1900. By 1909, Lewis was living in New York, where he found work in commercial illustration. His earliest known etching is dated 1915. However, the level of skill in this piece suggests he had been working in the medium for some time previously.
It was during this period that he helped Edward Hopper learn the basics of etching. In 1920, Lewis traveled to Japan, where for two years he drew and painted and studied Japanese art. The influence of Japanese prints is very evident in Lewis’s prints after that period. In 1925, he returned to etching and produced most of his well-known works between 1925 and 1935. Lewis’s first solo exhibition in 1929 was successful enough for him to give up commercial work and concentrate entirely on printmaking.