Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Harvey, Lewis Jarvis (1871–1949)

by Bettina MacAulay

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Lewis Jarvis Harvey (1871-1949), craftsman and teacher, was born on 16 June 1871 at Wantage, Berkshire, England, son of Enos James Harvey, moulder, and his wife Eliza, née Jarvis. Migrating with his family to Brisbane in 1874, he attended the Kangaroo Point State School and began work as a telegraph messenger. From about 1887 he studied art at Brisbane Technical College under Joseph Augustine Clarke. He was probably apprenticed about 1886 to wood-carver Edward G. Madeley, then to Cuthbert Vickers. In 1888-90 Harvey won first and special prizes for carved wood panels in competitions restricted to apprentices. He regarded Vickers as 'a great carver' and worked for him until about 1895 when he started his own business in part of his father's Elizabeth Street foundry.

Brisbane Technical College appointed Harvey a part-time instructor in wood-carving and chip-carving on 10 January 1902. From August 1916 to December 1937 he was a full-time applied arts teacher of modelling, wood-carving and pottery at the college. In 1915 he designed a new system for teaching pottery and used it for the rest of his career. Experimenting with glazes, emphasizing Australian motifs, researching and exploiting local clays, he attracted students from other States even though his fondness for Renaissance Classical revival traditions sometimes resulted in overdecorated formal pieces. Among sculpture students whom he encouraged to study abroad were Daphne Mayo and William Bowles. Lloyd Rees, who spent a year as a day student with him believed that 'Harvey was content to be a "medium" … for the great ones of the past … [he] was not a creative artist of importance but he was a creative influence'.

Harvey excelled as a wood-carver and had wide local impact on furniture design and manufacture. His best apprentice, John Adamson, working for the important Brisbane furniture manufacturer Edmund Rosenstengel, closely followed Harvey's use of motifs, timbers and grains to achieve special decorative effects. His two sons began making art furniture, and in 1938 Harvey himself opened an applied art school in Adelaide Street.

In 1938-45 he was a member of the Queensland Art Gallery's art advisory committee. During both World Wars, as a member of the Arts and Crafts Society, he taught disabled service personnel. Major works by him include the stone carvings on the Elizabeth Street façade of the Brisbane General Post Office (c.1908), a St John's Cathedral side-chapel altar (1910) and high altar communion rails (1929), and statue of St Brigid and high altar crucifix, St Brigid's Church, Red Hill (1914). He exhibited widely, winning a gold medal at the Franco-British Exhibition (1908) and bronze medals at the British Empire Exhibition, London (1924-25). His work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, the Queensland Art Gallery, and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney. In the 1940s he began oil painting, exhibiting with the Queensland Art Society.

Harvey collapsed and died at a Royal Queensland Art Society meeting on 19 July 1949 and was cremated with Anglican rites. He was survived by his wife Fanny Ellen, née Keal, whom he had married in Brisbane on 5 January 1898, and three of their five children. A bust of Harvey by Daphne Mayo is in the collection of his son E. B. Harvey, and his name is commemorated by the L. J. Harvey memorial prize for drawing awarded biennially by the Queensland Art Gallery.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Free, Lloyd Rees (Melb, 1972)
  • M. Y. Graham, Australian Pottery of the 19th and Early 20th Century (Syd, 1979)
  • K. W. Scarlett, Australian Sculptors (Melb, 1980)
  • Half Dozen Group papers (University of Queensland Library)
  • L. J. Harvey papers (privately held)
  • Royal National Assn papers (State Library of Queensland)
  • Brisbane Technical College and Brisbane Central Technical College, minutes and records (State Library of Queensland and Queensland State Archives).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Bettina MacAulay, 'Harvey, Lewis Jarvis (1871–1949)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/harvey-lewis-jarvis-6595/text11353, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 17 January 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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