Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow


George Henry Lewis

Title: Sir (1893) 1st Bt
Nationality: English
Date of birth: 1833.04.21
Place of birth: 10 Ely Place, Holborn
Date of death: 1911.12.07
Place of death: Portland Place, London
Category: lawyer


In 1863 Sir George Henry Lewis married Victorine Kann (d. 1865); they had a daughter Alice Victoria. He was married for a second time in 1867 to Elisabeth Eberstadt, with whom he had three children, George, Gertrude and Katherine (d. 1961).


He was a distinguished lawyer, of the firm of Lewis & Lewis, who specialised in 'society' cases, keeping people out court and avoiding publicity. He represented Whistler in several affairs, including at the time of his bankruptcy in 1878, in the case against Frederick R. Leyland regarding the ownership of Pink and Grey: Three Figures y089. In December 1886, while Whistler was painting Harmony in White and Ivory: Portrait of Lady Colin Campbell y354, Lewis was cross-examining the Duke of Marlborough in Lady Colin's divorce case. In 1893 Oscar Wilde engaged him to represent Lord Alfred Douglas and Lewis paid a blackmailer to recover an incriminating letter, thus avoiding a scandal.

The Lewises were patrons of the arts, and close friends of Burne Jones. Lady Lewis was much painted and admired, a cultivated woman and gracious hostess. She maintained a friendly correspondence with Whistler, and it is possible that she is the lady in A woman and a man seated in a garden m1438, seen perhaps outside their house at Walton-on-Thames, where Whistler was an occasional visitor.

In 1892 he was made Sir George Lewis CVO 1st Baronet. The office of Lewis & Lewis was at 10-1 Ely Place and the Lewises also had a home at 88 Portland Place.


'Sir George Lewis, 1st Baronet', Wikipedia; 'Sir George Lewis, 1st Baronet', National Portrait Gallery website.