When the 82-year-old Australian-born artist Hayley Lever (1876-1958)
died at his Mount Vernon (NY) home, the news for most was not the fact of
his death, but that he had still been alive; once enormously popular and critically
acclaimed, Hayley Lever had all but disappeared from public view more than
two decades earlier. But the biggest surprise was that, for all those years,
Hayley Lever had been painting. His former dealers especially were confounded
by the cache of unsold and largely unseen paintings in his Mount Vernon barn.
On the other hand, such astonishment was not entirely warranted. To Lever
painting and living were nearly synonymous actions: to paint was to live,
to live was to paint. When, in his last years, his right hand became crippled,
he learned to paint with the left. And when, in the hospital during his final
illness, painting materials were not readily available, he improvised canvases
from window shades and the cardboard taken from shirt boxes.
Southgate MT. Midday in the Harbor. JAMA. 1998;279(20):1594. doi:10.1001/jama.279.20.1594