Martin Lewis was born on June 7, 1881 in Castlemaine, Australia. He was the second of eight children and he had a passion for drawing. At the age of fifteen he left home and traveled in New South Wales and New Zealand, working as a posthole digger and a merchant seaman before settling in a Bohemian community outside of Sidney. He studied at the Art Society’s School and had several drawings published in the local newspaper. In 1900 he visited his family in Castlemaine for the last time and left for the United States. His first known job in the United States was painting stage decorations for the McKinley Presidential Campaign of 1900. Little is known of his early years in this country; however, by 1909 he was living and working in New York City.
Martin Lewis produced his first known print in 1915 and was active in the writers and artists’ communities of the time. The important changing point in his career was when he went to live in Japan during the early 1920s. While there, he spent his time drawing, painting and studying Japanese art, returning to New York in 1921. His next group of etchings and drypoints were of Japanese subjects. A number were reproduced in the Times during this period. Martin Lewis became famous a few years later for his images of New York City. Starting in 1927 many memorable images were created, including “Relics”, “Rain on Murray Hill”, “Glow of the City”, “Shadow Dance” and “Stoops in the Show.” “Relics”, produced in 1928 was well received by the public and the edition was sold out in a few months. Today, his prints are eagerly sought after by collectors. Many are quite rare and hard to locate.