An Inventory of His Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Wyndham Lewis was a novelist, critic, and a predominant experimental artist who founded Vorticism, an early 20th century English abstract art movement. Lewis was born November 18, 1882, near Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada, to Captain Charles Edward Lewis of New York and Anne Stuart of Great Britain. In 1893 his parents separated, and he moved with his mother to London. At the age of 16, Lewis enrolled in the Slade School of Art, where he spent the next three years studying. Following his formal education, Lewis left for the continent; between 1901 and 1909 he spent most of his time in France, but also traveled in Germany, Spain, and Holland.
Lewis returned to England in 1909, and that same year saw three of his stories published in the English Review. Subsequent to the publication of these stories, Lewis joined the literary circle of Ford Madox Hueffer, later known as Ford Madox Ford. While pursuing his literary career, Lewis continued to produce visual works of art. In 1911 his drawings were exhibited with the Camden Town Group, and in 1912 he had works in the Post-Impressionist exhibition organized by Roger Fry. The following year, Lewis joined Roger Fry's Omega workshop, only to split from the group later that same year. In 1913 Lewis also took part in Frank Rutter's Post-Impressionist and Futurist exhibition, and in an exhibition with the London Group.
In 1914 Lewis founded his own group, the Rebel Art Centre, and its movement, Vorticism (named by Ezra Pound). In 1914 and 1915, Lewis published the only two issues of the Vorticist review, Blast. During this time he was mainly associated with such figures as Richard Aldington, Gaudier-Brzeska, Ezra Pound, William Roberts, and Edward Wadsworth.
Lewis served in World War I. His first novel, Tarr, was published in 1918. In 1919 he attempted to revive Vorticism under the name X Group, which held one exhibition in 1920. After this time Lewis was not connected with any art groups, but he continued exhibiting his work, in addition to publishing books and articles. He spent the years of World War II in the United States and Canada, but returned to England in 1945. In 1946 he became the art critic of the Listener. Wyndham Lewis died March 7, 1957, in London.
The collection consists of nine portraits (eight drawings and one lithograph) and one self-portrait by Wyndham Lewis, and two watercolor landscapes by his mother, Anne Stuart Lewis. The works, which span between 1898 and 1949, are divided into two series: I. Works by Wyndham Lewis, and II. Works by Anne Stuart Lewis. Works within each series are arranged alphabetically by title. Titles are transcribed from the items; cataloger's titles appear in brackets. The portrait subjects include Lewis' contemporaries, namely G. K. Chesterton, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, T. E. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, and J. B. Priestley.
The Art Collection holds an additional drawing by Lewis, a portrait of Nancy Cunard, which can be found in the Nancy Cunard Art Collection. Two portrait etchings of Lewis can be found in the Augustus John Art Collection and the David Schorr Art Collection. Other works held by the Ransom Center, both by and about Lewis, can be found in the Manuscripts Collection, the Photography Collection, and the Library.
A minimum of twenty-four hours is required to pull art materials to the Reading Room.
Purchases (R830, R2683, R2726, R3480, R4957, R5180) and gifts
Alice Egan, 1997, and Helen Young, 2001
Wyndham Lewis Art Collection--Item List