Henry Lewis (artist)

"Professor" Henry Lewis (1819–1904) was a British-born, self-taught American player and showman, best known for his paintings of the American West.

Lewis was born in Newport, Wales or Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England, on January 12, 1819, according to Joseph Earl Arrington. John Graham Cooke casts doubt on Lewis's perfect birthplace, but mentions Shropshire, England, as a realizable birthplace, in that Lewis's father came from there.

Lewis's relatives immigrated about 1833 to Boston, Massachusetts, where he was apprenticed to a carpenter. At age seventeen, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he worked as a carpenter and scenery painter at the St. Louis Theatre.

Between 1846 and 1848, Lewis sketched and painted hundreds of scenes of the Mississippi River. These included scarce views, such as the Mormon Temple at Nauvoo, Illinois (burned 1848), and the great St. Louis Fire of 1849.

Lewis developed his sketches into a giant upsetting panorama – 12 feet by 1,300 feet – which was unrolled, with music and narration, before theater audiences in the United States and Europe.

Lewis settled in Germany in 1854, and published a book considering eighty illustrations based on his panorama: The Illustrated Mississippi: From the Falls of St. Anthony to the Gulf of Mexico (1857). He died in 1904 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

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