Model T Ford c.1955–65
Maud Lewis may well have based this image of a couple in a Model T Ford on her memories of the first year of her marriage. Everett Lewis owned an old Model T Ford when Maud met him in 1938, and later that year, in the first spring and summer of their marriage, she would accompany him on his rounds around Digby County as he sold fish. By the fall of 1938 Everett was also offering cards Maud had painted for sale to his customers, recalling her door-to-door card selling in Yarmouth in the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1939 Everett became the night watchman at the neighbouring “Poor Farm,” the local name for the Alms House, and stopped selling fish. Not needing the Ford for work, he eventually sold it. Maud Lewis may have enjoyed the relative freedom of travelling around Digby County for only a few short months, but the memories became an important source of her imagery. She painted many versions of this happy couple in their old Ford, such as Model T on Tour, 1960s, but it is not a portrait—the figures are too generalized to be recognized as individuals. In Lance Woolaver’s book The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis, one version of this work, then owned by the Woolaver family, was identified as Maud and Ev. But as Lewis did not title her paintings, that was surely a later appellation. The image is now known as Model T Ford.
This painting is also notable for the bright spring flowers lining the road. The tulips in the foreground are one of Lewis’s most common decorative flourishes, seen in paintings such as Carriage and Dog, n.d. It would be nice to think that the back roads of Digby County were lined with flowers, but that, of course, is only true in Lewis’s depictions of that world.