Judy Goins & Mark Cox Gallery
Lewis Miller’s New River Valley
until September 30
February 2 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
The Montgomery Museum of Art & History is proud to own original Miller artwork. Lewis Miller’s brother was a physician in Christiansburg. His niece married into the Craig family of Christiansburg and his nephew was a local minister. In addition to the works at the Montgomery Museum, additional examples of his Virginia work are located at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center in Williamsburg, Virginia, and at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture in Richmond, Virginia.
From 1862, until his death in 1882, Miller resided in Christiansburg and is buried in the Craig Cemetery, which is under the museum’s care.
Lewis Miller’s New River Valley explores Miller’s local work and his history with several original pieces.
Lewis Miller was born on May 3, 1796 in York, Pennsylvania. His parents were German immigrants and his father, a schoolmaster, provided Miller with a classical education. In 1813, Miller was apprenticed to his brother John to learn carpentry and house building. He worked on a number of important buildings in York over the next thirty years or more. Lewis Miller began sketching and recording local scenes for his own enjoyment around 1813 and over time, he began to think of himself as a “chronicler” of the world around him.
He was an artist and a carpenter, but his multi-layered interests and rich personality caused him to also take on the roles of historian, naturalist, philosopher, poet, song-writer, sculptor, and travel writer. Above all, Miller was an acute observer, sketching people from all walks of life doing all manner of things. His work is full of detailed historical information about nineteenth-century America: work and tools; flora and fauna; historical scenes; religious subjects; people and places; adventures and misadventures; and the range of human emotional experience. Miller’s commentary and poetry accompanied most drawings giving his art the feel of a diary or travel journal. He produced nearly 2,000 drawings over a period of nearly 70 years; more than 300 are of Virginia.
A bachelor, Miller was deeply devoted to his extended family and was close to many of his nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. Lewis Miller made the first of his fifteen documented trips to Virginia in 1831. Most of his Virginia trips were visits with the family of his brother, Dr. Joseph Miller, in Christiansburg, but he also visited his brother John in Rockingham County and his brother Benjamin in Upshur County, West Virginia. Miller’s nephew Charles Miller (the son of Dr. Joseph Miller) was Lewis Miller’s frequent traveling companion on trips through the Virginia countryside. It is apparent from his sketches that Miller loved Virginia. Due to his family connections, Montgomery County is most often featured in Miller’s Virginia sketches; outnumbering other locales by as much as three to one.
More information about Lewis Miller can be found here