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 Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith  (1879 - 1959)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom/England/France      Known for: nudes, still life and landscape painting

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Sir Matthew Smith is primarily known as Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith

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Ad Code: 2
Sir Matthew Smith
from Auction House Records.
Still Life with Fruit on a Tazza
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith was born on 22 October 1879 in Halifax, the son of a wire-manufacturer. He worked for four years in the family factory, before studying design at the Manchester School of Art from 1900 to 1904 and painting at the Slade School of Art* in London from 1905-07. Afterwards he worked for a year in Brittany in France, and by 1910 was in Paris, where he studied at Henri Matisse's short-lived school and was influenced by him and other Fauves*. This influence can be seen in paintings such as Fitzroy Street Nude No. 1 (1916) and his series of Cornish landscapes.

Until 1939 he lived alternately in Britain and France. In 1920 he became a member of the London Group*. His first one-person show was at Tooth's Gallery, London, in 1926. His work was shown at the Venice Biennale* in 1938 and 1950.

In 1949 he was awarded a C.B.E.  (Commander of the British Empire)

In 1944, The Penguin Modern Painters paperback series printed an illustrated biography written by Philip Hendy priced at two shillings and sixpence. It contains 16 black-and-white plates and 16 coloured plates of his paintings. There is a black-and-white photograph of him taken in 1932 on page 6. It contains a number of interesting details about his life with particular reference to his painting styles and influences.

Hendy gives the following biographical details (Hendy words are in quotes): Matthew Smith was born in 1879 in Halifax, England. His father was the head of a well-established wire-business and a keen amateur musician. All the musicians who came to Halifax passed through the "hospitable house". Matthew went to Giggleswick school and at seventeen he went to Bradford wool mill, at eighteen into the family works. It was only by "persevering inefficiency" that he "forced his way into the School of Art at Manchester; and then only a utilitarian department was permitted, that of design." After 2 years at the Slade he "made an escape to Brittany", where he spent a year. Then he moved to Paris and joined the school of Henri Matisse, some time in 1910. "After a month however, the master abandoned it, and the pupils' attempt to run the school without him lasted only another month."

Smith stayed in France until the outbreak of war in 1914. "He enjoyed a modest independence, but the reason why he did not even attempt to exhibit must have been his binding diffidence, the struggle that was going on to discover what it was that he wanted to express."

"Matthew Smith", Wikipedia, (Accessed 4/21/2013)

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