Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 William Lester Stevens is best known for his Impressionist landscapes of Massachusetts, however, he also painted for a brief time in the New Hope, Pennsylvania area from 1927 to 1929. In 1927, he was appointed an instructor of freehand drawing and watercolor at Princeton University. His first residence in Princeton was at 4 Mercer Street, and from 1928 to 1929, he resided at 28 Wilton Street. According to his exhibition records, Stevens exhibited two paintings at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with New Hope area subjects, Winter in New Jersey, 1929, and Lumberville in 1930. In addition, a painting titled Lumberville was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1929, and at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930.

During his time at Princeton, Stevens was extremely productive and exhibited extensively. In 1928, Stevens showed at the American Watercolor Society and won the William S. Delano Prize. He also exhibited at the National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran Galleryof Art. Despite his rigorous academic schedule, he produced enough paintings during 1928 to send works to the New Haven Paint and Clay Club where Winter in New Jersey won the Mansfield Prize. Also during this time he had a one man show at the American Association of University Women at the Public Library in Birmingham, Alabama, followed by an exhibition of over thirty oil paintings at the J.B. Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1929, Stevens gave up his teaching position at Princeton and turned to painting full time. He and his family traveled to Europe and spent time in Switzerland, Italy, and France. Due to the stock market crash in 1930, Stevens was forced to return to the States earlier than planned. By the summer, he was back in Rockport and resumed teaching his outdoor painting classes. Although best known for his bold oil paintings, Stevens also worked in watercolor and gouache. He painted outdoors everyday, resulting in the production of some five thousand works over the course of his career.

Stevens was born in Rockport, Massachusetts and began art instruction under Parker S. Perkins. He later attended the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School and studied in Europe after World War I. Around 1934, Stevens left Rockport and moved to western Massachusetts and later to Conway in 1944. He not only taught in Princeton and Rockport, but also in Boston, Conway and Springfield, Massachusetts, as well as in Washington D.C. He was a member of numerous art organizations, including an Associate and Academician of the National Academy of Design. His artwork is housed in public collections, including the Hickory Museum of Art, Ashville, North Carolina; Boston Art Club, Gloucester Museum of Art, Rockport Museum of Art, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, and the Louisville Art Museum. Stevens was a founding member of the Rockport Art Association where his work was shown in a solo exhibition from September 27 to November 9, 2003.


Judith A. Curtis, W. Lester Stevens, N.A. (Rockport, M.A.: Rockport Art Association, 2003)