Jennie Lewis Biography

Jennie Lewis




Jennie Lewis, painter and printmaker, was born in San Diego, California in 1892. Her family moved to San Francisco about 1900. She studied with William Merritt Chase at his summer school in Carmel during the summer of 1914, and at the California School of Fine Art in San Francisco with Eric Spencer Mackey and Maynard Dixon, and at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California with Xavier Martinez.

Lewis taught art at a convent school in San Francisco and hand colored greeting cards for San Francisco printing firms. She was accepted to work in the WPA California Federal Art Project in September 1938. Between 1938 and 1942, Lewis produced thirty-two lithographs with the WPA printer Ray Bertrand.

Her work was included in the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939. Through the efforts of the Federal Art Project director, Holger Cahill, a solo exhibition of Lewis’ work was mounted at the Museum of Modern Art New York in 1940. Lewis’ work was represented by the Paul Elder Gallery in San Francisco.

Jennie Lewis’ work is represented in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska; the Newark Museum, New Jersey; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania;  the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri; and the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Jennie Lewis died on 13 March 1944 after getting lost in a snowstorm while hiking in the Sierra Nevada in Lake Meadows, California. In June 1944, the San Francisco Museum of Art (now the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) mounted a solo exhibition of her work.



Sources include "WPA Federal Art Project - Printmaking in California" by Elizabeth Seaton for Book Club of California, 2005.