My mother was always proud of her grandfather’s paintings and pastel chalk art work, and we, her children, knew just how important these pieces of art that she owned were to her. So important, that when she knew she was stricken with cancer, she gave each of us, except my brother who was estranged from my mother at the time, at least one piece of our great-grandfather’s art, before she died. My mother was afraid we may not get them otherwise, due to my stepfather’s side of the family. It turned out she was right to worry, and we were lucky she had the foresight to pass the art down a couple of years before her death.
The painting I received was one I had spent many hours appreciating as a child. In fact, I loved all the art that I knew of my great- grandfather’s but this one was special to me, and it made me feel very worthy that my mother entrusted this particular piece to me. The painting depicts a young blonde woman, in a in a patterned blue mid-19th century dress, floor length, fluted three-quarter length sleeves, playing a piano. The piano is covered with an ivory cloth, and bears two unlit candles, as well as a fine branch fruited with white, pink, and red cherry blossoms gracing a blue pot-bellied vase.
When I had time to truly look at the painting, to appreciate it, it transported me to a different era. I imagined the woman’s fine porcelain fingers lithely pressuring the keys to perform Für Elise, one of the few classical piano compositions I knew as a child. I wondered if my great-grandfather knew this young woman before he painted her, or was she a figment of his imagination. The answer to that question still eludes me.
Apparently my great-grandfather painted more than one of these, as I found out later at least one relative has a painting of the same girl at the piano.
A short time ago, I had the feeling that I should look up H. Lewis on the internet, to see if I could find any information on him or his work. I had done this before and had only found a website, through my brother, which had some information and some misinformation about H. Lewis, the artist. The night I had the feeling to look him up again, I found three of his art pieces, and for the next two weeks, I found five more pieces for sale, and many more through a distant relative and some that had been sold in different auctions.
This rekindled my interest in my great-grandfather and his work. I decided if there was no compilation of information I could find about him or his art, then perhaps I should be the one to compile it.
Some of the information I acquired is from some pages of our family heritage that my mother put together for us. As far as I know it was from word of mouth, and what she could find at ancestry websites and from other family members exploring our genealogy. So I cannot attest to its complete accuracy, but it is as true as the old written records and the memories of elder relatives, and the passed down stories can be. Other information was gathered from living relatives that were grandchildren or great grandchildren of Hubert Lewis, again from the lore passed down.