Sir Matthew Smith (1879–1959) ‘Flowers’

Oil on Canvas
H117 x W97cm

Provenance: Private collection

British painter Sir Matthew Smith (1879–1959) is renowned for his still-lifes and landscapes. He was born in Halifax into an affluent family. Instead of joining the family business, he studied at the Manchester School of Art and then went to the Slade School of Art, where they told him he was lacking in any kind of talent. He went onto study under Henri Matisse in Paris, where he developed a fascination with Fauvism. While in Paris he also met the Modernist art collectors Gertrude and Leo Stein. With the outbreak of the First World War, Smith had to return to London and moved into a studio in Fitzroy Street, Camden. Although, influenced by the many artists he met while in France, Smith has his own distinctive style which is easily discernible from others in the period. Francis Bacon, a great admirer of Smith, wrote in 1953 that Smith’s painting “tends towards a complete interlocking of image and paint, so that the image is the paint and vice versa. Here the brush-stroke creates the form and does not merely fill it in. Consequently, every movement of the brush on the canvas alters the shape and implications of the image. That is why real painting is a mysterious and continuous struggle with chance…”.

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