Weir-Lewis, Nina (1858-1937) by Tovey, David

Nina Weir-Lewis (1858 – 1937) [Weir-Lewis is mentioned by Ezra Pound (writing as “B. H. Dias”) in his review, in , of the 109th exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (NA 22.24, 11 April 1918), though Pound misspelled her name as “Wier-Lewis.” What else we know of Weir-Lewis comes from David Tovey, an art historian who specializes in St. Ives art. His account of her follows below:] The New Age Nina Weir-Lewis was the American mother of the painter Helen Stuart Weir and had some success as an artist herself in her later years. Her entry in (1929) indicates that she was married and had four sons and two daughters. She was clearly married twice: once to a Weir, with whom she had Helen, and then to a Lewis, with whom she had her second daughter, Frances, who married a wealthy Scot, Claude Cuthbert, but then died from food poisoning at Gleneagles. Who’s Who in Art An article in the indicates that Weir-Lewis spent much of 1906 and that a German of high rank, Ernest D. Britton, was engaged to one of her daughters. Weir-Lewis is first referred to in a St. Ives context in 1913, having exhibited at Lanham’s that September. From the list of principal works that she included in her entry, it is clear that she had painted previously in America and Canada. However, she elected to study further under , who commented in a letter to her mother (September 16, 1915), During her time in England, Weir-Lewis specialised in flower and still life subjects and worked in all media. She took part in Show Day in 1915 and had work selected for the 1917 show at Plymouth. New York Times sojourning in Berlin Who’s Who Frances Hodgkins Mrs Weir Lewis keeps on having lessons in a methodical and sensible way and pays me 4 guineas a month for helping her acquire a good imitation of the Hodgkins style. Weir-Lewis first exhibited at the Society of Women Artists in 1921 and had thirteen works hung there in total. Her exhibiting address between 1921 and 1923 was given as Hill House, Corston, near Bristol, but she and her daughter continued to rent Rose Lodge Studio and, in 1922, they held a joint show at Lanham’s. This was one of a number of occasions when they exhibited together. Nina also took part in Show Day in 1923. She additionally exhibited at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, having a St. Ives subject hung there in 1921, and had her works and reproduced. By the time the St. Ives Society of Artists (STISA) was formed, she appears to have been based in Stanhope Gardens, in London; she contributed to the first STISA show in the Porthmeor Gallery in 1928, though she was not as regular a contributor as her daughter. Weir-Lewis died in 1937, and was buried at Lelant, in Cornwall. Her work appears rarely at auction, but a watercolour of (SWA 1923 or 1931) did sell quite well at Sotheby’s, New York, in October 1997. Delphiniums in Somerset A May Morning Anemones —David Tovey

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