Maud Lewis’s painted house

The buzz about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis seems to focus on her tiny (3 x 4  metre) painted house. It was painted inside and out with garden scenes. (Note: this photo shows a replica of her house.)

One site describes it thus:

Lewis lived in a garden, summer  and winter. In the mean little cabin, without central heating or indoor  plumbing, she painted a fantasy world of cheerful children, pretty seascapes  and cherry red songbirds. She  splashed bright butterflies and birds across the  front door; she filled her windows with pink and blue tulips; she decorated the  dustpan with daisies and the stove with big red flowers. No surface escaped her brushes.

Lewis may have painted and sold as many as a  couple of thousand pictures in her bold, happy style, but it is her house that  confirms the inner brightness of this remarkable woman whose life was one of disability, poverty and ill health.

Maud passed away in 1970;  her husband, Edgar, lived there until he died in 1979.The Maud Lewis Painted  House Society was formed in 1984 with the intention of rescuing it from ruin. Eventually the house was sold to the Province of Nova Scotia and then, in 1995, the house was disassembled, restored, and reconstructed at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. It is on permanent display there. You can watch a short video about the  house restoration.

Maud’s paintings are now highly collectible and prices are climbing. Prices at auction are typically in the $10,000 range, with two fetching between $16,000 and $22,000. It is noted that some paintings are remarkably similar because when Maud liked a subject, she repeated it a few times. There are, for example, multiple paintings of “Two Deer in the Snow”. But there is an “issue” about authenticity. She printed her name on her paintings in a simple way, which has been remarkably easy to copy. And, to make matters worse, her husband, Edgar, made some paintings after her death and signed them with her name.

I happened to check what might be for sale by Maud Lewis on eBay. (It’s an obsessive habit of mine.) I found a watercolour painting for sale by the artist “Maud Lewis”, listed by someone in England who probably picked it up at a garage sale. I have never seen a painting that looked so-NOT-like-Maud-Lewis’s-style in my life. Yet someone had written to ask the seller if it was by the Canadian painter Maud Lewis. The seller said he was “Not familiar with the artist. Best wishes, Roger.”  There are 2 bids on the painting, and the price has now escalated to $13.43 (Cdn). I apologize profusely for laughing (out loud) (a lot). I am tempted to throw a monkey wrench in to the works and submit a random bid for $15.

This summarizes the Canadian phenomenon of folk artist, Maud Lewis.