Historic Art | Marmaduke Matthews R.C.A.
About the Artist
Born in Barcheston, Warwickshire, England, the eldest son of Marmaduke Matthews and Maria Southam. His family moved to Fifield, Oxfordshire, where he spent his early youth. He attended Cowley School, Oxford, and then London University. His parents wanted him to enter commercial life and he spent three years working for a German publishing and importing house in London. His desire to become an artist was much stronger than any wish to succeed in business. He became a student of T.M. Richardson, a water colourist from Oxford. He studied under several other art masters in London and he exhibited with success in that city. He was a great hunting enthusiast and became an accomplished horseman. When he was twenty-one, he decided to emigrate to Canada where he hoped to enjoy an open-air life of painting from nature and big-game hunting. In 1860, he settled in toronto and from there probably enjoyed numerous excursions to the wilds. In 1864, he married Cyrilda Bernard of Toronto. It seems they then moved to New York where they lived from 1865 to 1869. Confederation became a reality in 1867 and with it a new vitality everywhere. Then Matthews returned to Toronto in 1869 where he opened a studio once more. In 1874, he was able to purchase land and to build a home in a choice location in Toronto. He named the property Wychwood Park after Wychwood Forest, which borded his old home in Oxforshire. By 1875, he was advertising himself as a portrait painter and continued to do so for the next eleven years. Matthews, however, is regarded mainly as a landscape painter and was particularly well known for his paintings of the Rocky Mountains, so successful in fact that special praise was given for his work shown at the World's Fair in 1893 by an Ernest Heck in his report to the Paris Alpine Club. Matthews' first trip to the Rockies was made around 1887 in the company of F.M. Bell-Smith and T. Mower Martin. Little or no space has been given to Matthews by Canadian art historians today beyond the mere mention of his activities in connection with art organizations. Described earlier as a follower of the French school and a great admirer of Jean Corot, his paintings were well received at various exhibitions in Canada and the United States. He became a founding member of the Ontario Society of Artists and Secretary in 1872, later President in 1894; founding member of the Royal Canadian Academy and Secretary in 1880. Among his patrons were the Marquis of Lorne, Sir George Drummond, Lord Strathcona and Lord Mount Stephen. He travelled in many parts of Canada, United States and returned to England probably more than once. He is represented in the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the B.C. Archives, the Royal Ontario Museum (S. Samuel Coll.), Mr. & Mrs. Jules Loeb Collection, Tor., and elsewhere. When he died in September, 1913, he was survived by his widow, one son, Marmaduke Ernest Matthews and three daughters, Alice Matthews, Barbara (Mrs. R.E. Pack), and Cyrilda (Mrs. A.K. Goodman) all of Toronto. His close friends included T. Mower Martin and George A. Reid, both artists who painted his portrait.
(A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 4: Little-Myles, compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks, 1974)
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