Artist Lee Lash (1864-1935)

Lee Lash was a landscape and townscape painter as well as a designer. He was born in Vancouver, BC in 1864, and from 1865 onwards was brought up in San Francisco where he attended public schools. In his teens he studied art with Juan B. Wandesforde and Domenico Tojetti. He then traveled to Paris where he studied with Boulange and Lefebvre.

At the Paris Salons his work was acclaimed and after eight years in Paris, he established a studio in San Francisco and taught at the School of Design from 1891-1893.[i]

Lash also began a theater curtain advertising business in 1893 backed by financier, William Chambliss. According to the Chambliss diary, Lash said, “I am in a position which I cannot risk by going into trade. Sign painting is trade you know, and I am an artist.” Subsequently Lash began a family business called “Art Advertising Company.” Apparently he got over the idea that the advertising business was vulgar “trade,” because it is said that he even got up on a scaffold to add some finishing touches to a bicycle advertisement, and the scaffolding fell down and almost killed him.[ii]

By 1895 he had moved to New York City and had two “curtain advertising enterprises” called Lee Lash Studios, –one in New York, and the other in Philadelphia. We know that this business continued until at least 1922, because the Townshend Lash Studio curtain bears that date. We have evidence that Lash remained in New York and also continued to create fine art until at least 1935 [iii]¬†when he would have been about 70 years old. Many of his paintings of New York and elsewhere are now offered for auction on the AskArt website.


i. The foregoing information is from Artists in California, 1786-1940 by Edan Milton Hughes, 1989, courtesy of This site includes photos of paintings by Lee Lash which are apparently for sale. (See attached.)

ii. Chambliss, William H., Chambliss’ Diary: Or, Society As It Really Is, 1895: NY, Chapter 27. Library of Congress, “California as I Saw It:” First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849-1900.

iii. Lash would have been 70-71 years old in 1935.

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