11567

TRIPTYCH PAINTING OF THE VILLA LOMAS AZULES AND HIGHLAND VINEYARD, SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, SIGNED BY LEW DAVIS (1910-1979)

Measurements

Left panel: Height: 30 1/2" (77.5 cm); Width: 18 3/4" (47.6 cm). Central panel: Height: 30 1/2" (77.5 cm); Width: 24 1/2" (62.2 cm). Right panel: Height: 30 1/2" (77.5 cm); Width: 18 3/4" (47.6 cm).

Research
Oil on canvas.

Marks:
Bears an old paper gallery label to the reverse:
10. Whener Estate / This tryptec painting showes the Whener estate as it might have looked thirty years ago. The mansion is visible because the trees were smaller.

This charming Southern California landscape was painted by Lew Davis (1910–1979), an Arizona native and Regionalist painter who specialized in Depression-era genre paintings depicting the conditions faced by Americans, particularly miners and mining towns. He studied at the Academy of Design in New York, but returned to Arizona in 1936 and was assigned to the Federal Art Project in 1937. As a requirement, he sent six paintings of his region back to Washington D.C. annually; these copper mining scenes were exhibited at the New York World’s Fair (1939–40) and first brought him national recognition. He served as the State Art Project Supervisor for Arizona under the Works Progress Act and was one of the founding members of Arizona’s first art school.

Davis also served as an artist in the army during World War II, and was stationed at Fort Huachuca, a segregated base. Racial inequality became his focus when he was asked to paint murals for the white officer’s mess hall. In response Davis set up a silk-screen shop and with the assistance of African American soldiers, and “created new artwork portraying the participation of black soldiers in the war,” which were nationally distributed.

After the war he returned home and opened the Desert School of Art with his wife Mathilde Schaefer Davis, also an artist. He continued to paint and became known as the “Dean of Arizona Artists.”

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.