John Frederick Lewis RA (1)

The good thing about Robert Irwin’s book about the Alhambra is his last chapter ‘The Romance of the Moor’ on early travellers to Granada and their accounts, both visual and verbal, of the Alhambra.   Amongst these was John Frederick Lewis, the son of a London engraver, whose father had come to London from Germany and changed his name from Ludwig.   Lewis was brought up in what is now Foley Street, north of Oxford Street, an area full of artists, including the Landseers who were neighbours.   He worked as an assistant to Thomas Lawrence in the 1820s painting animals, before specialising in topographical watercolours, first in the west of England, then in the Alps, and in 1832 and 1833 in Spain, where he stayed with Richard Ford, corresponded with David Roberts, and produced lithographs which, in 1835, were published as Lewis’s Sketches and Drawings of the Alhambra, made during a Residence in Granada in the Years 1833-4 (he was actually there slightly earlier).   This was one of the sources of the picturesque cult of the Alhambra, alongside the writings of Wahington Irving, which Irwin so deplores.

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One thought on “John Frederick Lewis RA (1)

  1. Given how prolific he was, and how well he is represented in UK collections ( Tate, Courtauld, Fitzwilliam, NPG, Manchester, Birmingham, National Gallery of Scotland, and the RA !) it’s surprising how little has been written about him, apart from a Yale book a few years ago.

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