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February 15, 2022

Martin Lewis’ New York City in Stunning Etchings

Martin Lewis (June 14, 1881 – February 22, 1962) was an Australian-born American etcher. Lewis left Australia for the United States in 1900 and had his first job in San Francisco, painting stage decorations for William McKinley’s presidential campaign. By 1909, Lewis was living in New York, where he found work in commercial illustration. His earliest known etching is dated 1915. 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’ prints after that period. In 1924, he returned to etching and produced most of his well-known works between 1925 and 1935. Lewis’ exhibitions in 1927-1928 were successful enough for him to give up commercial work and concentrate entirely on printmaking.

Lewis is most famous for his black and white prints, mostly of night scenes of non-tourists, real-life street scenes of New York City. During the Depression, however, he was forced to leave the city for four years between 1932 and 1936 and move to Newtown, Connecticut. When Lewis was able to return to New York City in 1936, there was no longer a market interested in his work. He taught printmaking at the Art Students League of New York from 1944 until his retirement in 1952. Lewis died largely forgotten in 1962.

Take a look at Lewis’ stunning etchings through 28 pictures below:

New York City

New York City

New York City

Stoops in snow

New York children

Rainy days, Queens

Shadow dance

Dock workers under the Brooklyn bridge, ca. 1916-1918

The Orator, Madison Square

Relics (Speakeasy Corner)

Tree, Manhattan

Wet Saturday

Yorkville night

East Side interior, 1922

Night in New York, 1926

Derricks, 1927

Bay Windows (Snowy Day–Lexington Avenue), 1929

Quarter of Nine-Saturday's children, 1929

Spiral Staircase, Queensboro Bridge

The glow of the city, 1929

Spring night, Greenwich Village, 1930

Subway steps, 1930

Arch, Midnight, 1930

Break in the thunderstorm, 1930

New York, 1930s

Circus night, 1933

Shadow magic, 1939

Late traveler, New York subway, 1949


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