James Morgan Lewin was born in Swansea, MA in 1836. He began his career as an apprentice at the Gorham Company in Providence, RI, learning engraving. At the close of his apprenticeship, he learned to paint photographs and was engaged by Manchester & Chapin, prominent photographers of their time. Lewin later turned his talents to landscape painting.
In 1858 he taught in Providence, RI, at the Charles Field Street Family and Day School. For the next two years, 1859 and 1860, he exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum. The Crayon for October 1859 noted that “Jas. M. Lewin, a landscape painter of great popularity here, is spending the summer at Conway, NH, taking sketches of the White Mountains.” He was a member of the Providence Art Club. In 1864, Lewin had a studio in Boston, MA. He exhibited at the Boston Art Club during the period 1875 to 1877.
“One day, many summers ago, there alighted at my cottage door in North Conway, from the Centre Harbor stage-coach, a young man of bright intelligent face, who told me that his name was James M. Lewin and that he had come from Providence to study the scenery of the Saco valley in the vicinity of my home. I took him to my studio and showed him some of the points of view I had painted. He seemed pleased and next day started out to find something for himself, but returned saying he could find nothing to paint. He wished I would allow him to paint near me. I agreed. He selected a subject by my side. He made a muddy mess of it. I gave him a few hints and the next day he made a charming little sketch of it. I was amazed and thought he had been shamming. But no, his eyes had only been opened to see as if by magic what was beautiful about him. Then we sketched all the summer and he produced many charming dainty bits.
Other summers he came to work and was constantly improving. I found he had great imaginative faculties and delicate, deft execution. He went to Boston, took a studio and painted landscape and still life with rare skill and ease. His pictures were highly esteemed but unfortunately death shortly ended his brilliant career.”
Lewin died and was buried in Milton, MA in 1877.
Titles of his three known White Mountain paintings are Conway Meadows with Moat Mountains and Cathedral Ledge, On the Moosilauk [sic], and Sundown on the Saco.
Great granddaughter, Betsy Silcox
New Hampshire Scenery