A View of Philadelphia From Belmont Plateau
Edmund Lewis
Edmund Darch Lewis

Edmund Darch Lewis, 1835-1910, was a remarkably prolific American artist known for his landscape and marine oils and watercolors. A student of German-born artist Paul Weber in Philadelphia, at nineteen Lewis was able to exhibit two of his paintings at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 1854. Five years later he was elected an Associate of that Academy

His proficiency as an artist was enhanced by his rather comfortable and envious domestic situation. As his nephew Clifford Lewis noted, Edmund Lewis "had none of the problems to meet that frequently confronts the 'struggling young artist'...he lived with his parents until nearly fifty years of age" and"...therefore did not have to meet the fundamental problem of bed and board." He also "enjoyed the benefit of an unusually large family connection, not wealth, but all prominent in the social life of the city and with many ramifications by marriage into other families. Discussion of his abilities as a painter quickly became a popular topic of the conversations of the day."

Cape May Watercolor
Cape May, New Jersey, 1894
Watercolor & gouache on paper, 20" x 9 3/8"

One reviewer speaking of the 1877 Spring Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art commented that "The landscape by Lewis has all the richness of coloring and cheerfulness of tone which distinguishes his method, and, if it is not nature mirrored, it is nature very charmingly complemented."

Cape May, New Jersey storm
Storm of Cape May, New Jersey, 1902
Gouache, 22" x 33"

Among those "unusually large family connections" Edmund enjoyed, was that two of his sisters would marry first cousins. Mary Darch Lewis married a nephew of Dr. Physick, Philip Syng Physick Conner, Susan's son; while Susan's sister Sarah's son, Samuel Emlen Randolph, married Anna Lewis, the sister of Edmund Darch and Mary Darch Lewis. Edmund would regularly utilize his sisters' summerhouses in Maryland and Road Island as a home base for his painting excursions. Further illustrating the unusual family connections, two of Edmund's nephews by way of the Physick, and Lewis sisters, would marry another set of sisters.

Newport Harbor, Twilight
Newport Harbor, Twilight, 1876
Oil on canvas 
30 x 50 in.

Even further illustrating the "unusually family connections," The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art was founded by artist and scientist Charles Willson Peale, sculpture William Rush, and, Dr. Physick's nephew and assistant, Dr. John Syng Dorsey in 1805. An amateur artist, poet, musician, anatomist and surgeon, Dr. Dorsey was on the committee that selected the site and was the architect for the Academy's first building.

Philadelphia at Twilight
Philadelphia at Twilight, 1890
Watercolor & gouache on paper, 23 3/8" x 12 1/2"
Centenniel Exhibirtion Painting, 1876, 36" x 30"