Oil on canvas, 18 x 26 inches / Signed and dated lower left
Born in Providence Rhode Island, Leavitt attended private schools in Rhode Island and the Kimball Union Academy in Meredith, New Hampshire. It was not until he enlisted in in the United States Navy during the Civil War that he began honing his drawing skills. Leavitt studied with James Lewin, one of the “Group of 1855” artists who promoted the arts in Providence. There is speculation that he may have studied with Martin Johnson Heade, the famous landscape painter, during this artist’s short tenure in the city. Leavitt went on to become Rhode Island’s most successful still-life painter of the nineteenth century. He is most famous for his oil paintings depicting tabletop arrangements of fruit, flowers, dead fish and game, presented in a somewhat baroque manner, but wonderfully textured and detailed.
Leavitt was a prolific painter who maintained a studio in the Hoppin Homestead Building in Providence. His works were highly sought after by the emerging Victorian upper-middle class, who had the means and were eager to bring exquisite fine art into their new homes. He was the source of inspiration to other artists including Byrant Chapin, John Clinton Spencer, Charles Storer and George Whitaker. He was member of the Boston and Providence art clubs, where he exhibited, and the Providence Press Club. Leavitt also exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York City, the Boston Art Club and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts