Saturday, January 6, 2024

Maud Lewis -- Canadian Folk Artist…


Maud Lewis


Canada’s Best-Known & Best-Loved Folk Artist!

With no formal training, Maud painted JOY into each colorful painting while enduring Juvenile Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis & living a poverty-stricken rural existence.

In 2018, at Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village, we paid tribute to Maud Lewis with an exhibit – it was a tribute to Maud’s life & paintings by participating U.S. & Canadian fiber artists capturing Maud’s designs in their hooked rugs. The exhibit also included “original” Maud Lewis paintings - on loan from noted rug hooking artist & vendor Barbara Lukas. We also offered a wonderful 4-day retreat taught by Doug Rankin, so that you could create a hooked rug of one of Maud’s designs. It was an inspiring week!

Maud’s - Hooked Rug


In Maud Lewis’ lifetime, it has been documented, that she had hooked at least one rug. So beside being a painter, Maud was also a rug hooker. It’s said that one of those rugs graced the floor of Maud’s tiny & colorful house. Unfortunately, unlike her paintings, we don’t have photos or the original rug(s).

The tiny house of Maud & Everett Lewis — 13.45 feet x 12.46 feet — with NO

      Electricity/Lighting   Plumbing/Running Water/Bathroom   Heat (only a cook stove)   Insulation (except for wallpaper)   Icebox/Refrigerator/Appliances   Telephone


Both of these photos show the 1st floor interior of Maud’s tiny house with hooked rugs & linoleum covering the floors. (Although not the original hooked rug made by Maud.). This one room on the 1st floor was the combined kitchen, diningroom, & livingroom – as well as Maud’s artist studio. Again, the 1st floor was barely 13 1/2' x 12 1/2' total. A small set of steps led to a sleeping loft.

Maud’s first “work of art” in her new home would be recalled by niece Kathleen Gavel:

“Maud hooked a rug for the floor of the tiny house. The rug was just the right size for the house. It covered all the floor before the stove. It was immense. Before the Fall was out, & Winter had fully set in, an unexpected someone would buy Maud’s hooked rug for cash. How much was paid, & who it was, are lost. Maud had proved her worth in cash!”

Family members said that she sold this hooked rug before she started selling her paintings.

Maud’s - Paintings for Sale

Maud painted both doors as well as the window with flowers & birds, on the exterior of their house. On the left side of the house, you can see Maud’s “Paintings for Sale” sign. Below are the interior steps leading to the sleeping loft, Maud painted them with Forget-Me-Not flowers. 

In the Spring or Summer of 1938, Maud started decoratively painting the exterior of the tiny house with industrial green paint for the trim & added flowers, butterflies & birds. By 1940’s the house was decoratively painted inside & outside. The paintings on the outside of the house now served as advertisement of her artist trade. The sales of Maud’s paintings were immediate. 

Early 1940s Maud Lewis painting of one of her favorite topics – Oxen.

While one of (husband & fish peddler) Everett’s mackerel fetched 25¢, one of Maud’s painted boards fetched $2. Soon Everett increased the price of Maud’s paintings to $2.50. In her lifetime, Maud would typically never sell a painting for more than $10. Maud would also sell hand-painted Christmas cards (photo below) for 5¢ or 5 for 25¢. 


In the January 2024 issue of Maine Antique Digest, it said that several of Maud’s paintings recently sold at Miller & Miller Auctions in New Hamburg, Ontario. Please keep this in mind while you continue reading --- in her lifetime, Maud would get about $2.50-$10 for a painting…

Oxen in Winter, 12” x 14”, sold for US $38,350/Canadian $28,061.

The Lobsterman, 12” x 14”, sold for US $33,672/Canadian $45,000.

The Three Black Cats, 9 1/4” x 16”, sold for US $47,200/Canadian $34,537.

Two Deer, 12” x 13 1/2, sold for US $44,250/Canadian $32,378.

  But wait.... Maud’s paintings have sold even higher, in the $100,000 range, and even one record sale of $350,000 for a 1967 Black Truck painting (see photo above).

Everett’s Paintings

After Maud died, her husband Everett tried to continue the revenue stream by painting himself. He did not have near the talent & his paintings never sold for near the price of Maud’s. Here is one example that sold recently - along with Maud’s at Miller & Miller Auction.


Two Oxen in Winter by Everett Lewis, 14 1/4” x 16 1/4”, sold for US $2,430/Canadian $3,250.

More Maud

Despite her extreme physical challenges & living in poverty, this lovely & talented lady created an extensive body of JOYFUL ART! One can’t help but smile when seeing a Maud Lewis painting!

If you would like to know more about Maud Lewis, here are a few BOOKS that I would recommend:

The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis by Lance Woolaver (if you were only to read 1 book – this is filled with color photos, isn’t too long & gives a nice summery of both her life & art) paperback

Maud Lewis, The Heart on the Door by Lance Woolaver (a complete researched biography - by a family that knew her & collected her work for years, this book is excellent, only has limited B&W photos) paperback


Maud Lewis, Paintings For Sale by Sarah Milroy (a wonderful collection of Maud’s paintings, this book accompanied a 2019 exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Ontario) small hardback

Maud’s Country Landscapes That Inspired The Art Of Maud Lewis by Lance Woolaver & Bob Brooks (this book has color photos of some of Maud’s paintings along with color photos of local Marshalltown/Digby sites & features, along with quotes from Maud & others to give insight into her local inspirations for her paintings) small hardback  

The Painted House of Maud Lewis, Conserving a Folk Art Treasure by Laurie Hamilton (if you're into restoration & want to know more about the restoration of Maud’s little house & some contents - this is the book. (FYI…thanks to a small group of local citizens, who formed the Maud Lewis Painted House Society in 1979 after Everett Lewis’ death – & raised money to acquire & preserve the house or it would have been lost. In 1984, the house & contents were purchase from the Society by Art Gallery of Nova Socia, but unfortunately the house sat in storage where it further deteriorated - so it was in very, very bad shape when sometime after 1994 (10 years later) the house was disassembled & conservation/reconstruction was started.)

Our Maud, The Life, Art and Legacy of Maud Lewis (I don’t recommend this book by AGNS, I was disappointed in it. Not much info/photos for the cost $30 Canadian + costly shipping)

Also, there is a lovely movie that was based on Maud’s life titled Maudie starring Sally Hawkins & Ethan Hawke. I was in touch with Mary Young Leckie - the Movie’s Producer, who was kind enough to send us some DVD’s as doorprizes for the RHW Maud Exhibit. I suggest that you give it a view, it’s available to rent/buy through Amazon Video.

If you would like to travel to see original Maud Lewis art & her restored tiny house – visit the Maud Lewis Gallery at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax. The collection is large, but be sure that it's not on loan to another museum, when you plan to visit. (Near AGNS is the Fairview Cemetery where over 100 victims of the Titanic sinking are buried - worth visiting.) A couple hours away, but much to see along the way, like Peggys Cove & Lunenburg... You might also want to stop by the North Range Cemetery where Maude is buried which is in Barton, NS & there is a replica of the tiny house (original is in the Art Gallery of NS) 11585 Highway 217, Rossway. But be sure to visit Maud Lewis Memorial Park on Highway 101, Marshalltown (where the original house stood) & now there is a e steel replica memorial & garden (see photo below).

Hook a Maud Lewis Rug

If you would like to hook a rug in a Maud Lewis design, there are only a couple of businesses that are AGNS authorized to create & sell Maud Lewis rug patterns:

Highland Heart Hookery / Anne & Doug Rankin

Art in Textile / Barbara Lukas (patterns distributed by W Cushing & Co)

Did you know that... Maud also painted on seashells. 

I hope you enjoyed yet another one of my short stories. Maud Lewis was certainly a talented lady, who rose above her many, many life challenges & left us with an amazing collection of JOYFUL ART! 

Wishing You All A Very Happy New Year - Filled With Time To Create!


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