Lester Joseph Chaney was born on April 19, 1907 at Zala, Nagy Kanisza, Hungary. He died on September 14, 1998 in New Lenox, Illinois. Only a limited amount of information is available concerning his life. He did study for a time at the Art Institute of Chicago and subsequently with Charles H. Woodbury and Leon Lundmark. Under the tutelage of these two men it is easy to understand why Chaney developed such a great love for lake and coastal scenes.
Chaney was a member of the Chicago No-jury Society. He was included in exhibitions at the Union League Club of Chicago in 1929 and at the Little Gallery, Evanston, Illinois where he was awarded a prize in 1932. J. W. Young Galleries which was located in the Fine Arts Building in downtown Chicago for so many years mounted an exhibition of twenty-five paintings by Chaney in February of 1946. While five of these scenes were of Lake Superior, the rest were painted on the shores of Maine.
For the Chaney exhibition J. W. Young wrote that In the history of American art, there are very few great marine painters. Too many artists develop a recipe for painting the sea forgetting that a painting of the sea is after all the painting of a landscape with water over it; forgetting that the landscape in nature is static while the sea is ever in motion and always reflects like a mirror the sky above it and only a painter who loves the sea and studies closely its every mood and aspect ever gains distinction. Lester Chaney’s love for the sea is inborn and his God-given sense of color enables him to record with true values the myriad hues found in the seascape.
Chaney was a contributor of illustrated articles to the Chicago Evening American, the Chicago Herald and the Chicago Examiner. The Davenport Public Museum in Iowa counts one of his paintings in its collection.
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