Richmond Park has been valued as a rural haven ever since it was enclosed as a royal hunting ground by Charles I in 1637. Over the years it has provided a home for all kinds of flora and fauna, most notably veteran oak trees and herds of red and fallow deer. This unique space has inspired many artists, as in this oil painting, held in the Hearsum Collection, by local artist James Isaiah Lewis, showing deer among veteran trees in the midst of the Park with White Lodge in the distance.
Lewis (c1861-1934) was a prolific local artist who specialised in views of Richmond and of the Thames. Beginning his career as a photographer’s assistant, Lewis went on to produce some delicate and detailed works in the great tradition of English landscape painting. However, as he reputedly depended on selling paintings to fund his beer-drinking life-style, the quality of his work varied considerably, and he died a poor man in Richmond in 1934. Nevertheless his better work has now gained recognition, as is evident in auction sales both in this country and abroad.