Maud Lewis (1903-1970) was born to John and
Agnes Dowley in South Ohio, Nova Scotia. As a child, Maud spent most of
her time alone, mostly because she felt uncomfortable about her
differences around the other children. She had been born with almost no
chin and was always much smaller than everyone else. However, Maud
seemed to be a happy child who enjoyed the time she spent with her
parents and brother. Maud's mother started her painting Christmas cards
to sell and thus her career as an artist began.
life and only experience of the world extended to an area between her
birthplace in Yarmouth County and her married home in Marshalltown,
Digby County. In 1935 Maud's father died and in 1937, her mother
followed. As was typical at the time, her brother inherited the family
home. After living with her brother for a short while she moved to Digby
to live with her aunt. There she met Everett Lewis, an itinerant fish
peddler, and married him shortly after in 1938.Life in the House
Maud spent the rest of her life living with Everett in their house in Marshalltown
The two had what has been perceived as a formidable companionship,
despite any character flaws neighbors found in Everett. Because of
Maud’s worsening rheumatoid arthritis, she was unable to do housework.
Everett took care of the house, and Maud brought in money through her
paintings. The two were a pair that Maud was proud to be a part of.
home they lived in was tiny in stature but large in character. Despite
the lack of modern amenities like indoor plumbing and electricity, the
house shows that Maud's life in Marshalltown was full of enjoyment
through her art. Those who stopped after seeing her roadside sign,
"Paintings for sale", found a quiet woman with a delightful smile. Her
pleasure didn't come from the pride of having done a painting, but the
creative act itself and the enjoyment others seemed to get from her
Through newspaper and magazine articles,
as well as television documentaries, Maud became well known and a
reputation grew that’s still growing today.
the death of Maud Lewis in 1970, and subsequently of her husband, Everett Lewis, in 1979, the lovingly
painted home began to deteriorate. In reaction, a group of concerned
citizens from the Digby area started the Maud Lewis Painted House
Society; their only goal was to save this valued landmark.
number of years of fundraising, the society realized that the project
was going to take more resources than they could gather. In 1984, the
house was sold to the Province of Nova Scotia and turned over to the
care of Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
In 1996, with funds from the
federal Department of Canadian Heritage and from private individuals, the
processes of conservation and restoration began. The final, fully
restored house is on permanent display in Halifax at the Art Gallery
of Nova Scotia.
« Back to Maud Lewis Gallery