William F Matthews [1878-1966]
A winter morning, ca.1915
Oil on canvas
20 x 25 inches
Signed at lower left : ‘W F MATTHEWS’.
William F. Matthews (1878-1966)
William F. Matthews (1878-1966) was an American-born illustrator, muralist, painter and theater/movie stage designer. He was born in 1878 in St Louis, MO and studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. After leaving school Matthews worked for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Globe Democrat as a newspaper illustrator and artist.
While in St. Louis, Matthews joined several clubs including: St. Louis Artists’ Guild, Society of Ancients, Two-by-Four Society, and the Society of Western Artists’. He exhibited with these clubs from around 1913 to 1915 before moving to New York.
In New York City, Matthews founded and became the first president of the Brooklyn Society of Painters and Sculptors. He also joined the local Brooklyn group The Neighborhood Club. He showed with these groups from about the 1920s to the 1930s. Matthews continued working for newspapers as an artist including the New York World.
In Brooklyn, Matthews established his studio for theater and movie stage design. He worked on several Hollywood films for top producers including: Florenz Ziegfeld, George Abbott and Al Wood.
Tiring of the “hub bub of New York”, Matthews accepted an invitation from wealthy hotelier, Daniel J. O’Brien, to move to Toledo, OH in 1934. Brien, who built the luxurious Commodore Perry Hotel commissioned Matthews to “beautify the place”. The artist created murals with a subject of early history of Toledo and the Maumee Valley. They depicted Don Quixote and images of old Toledo, Spain. Some can still be seen in the building, now called the Commodore Perry Apartments, at 505 Jefferson St., Toledo, OH, in the first floor exercise room and bar. The massive Don Quixote murals are in the ballroom on the top floor.
The commission began to stream in for mural work. The artist created murals for churches, colleges, homes, lodge halls, and public places in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans, and the mid-west from around the 1930s to the late 1940s.
Feeling that Toledo had been good to him, Matthews moved back in 1951, setting-up a studio at 236 10th Street, which became a gathering place for artists.
Matthews continued to move, landing in the artist haven of Woodstock, NY in the mid-1950s. During this time, hotelier O’Brien came calling again to renovate his Willard Hotel property. Matthews worked remotely on the lobby in the style of an English inn with paneled walls and murals. The murals depicted more than 70 characters from the novels of Charles Dickens. It was painted on canvas in his Woodstock studio and placed into the hotel lobby in Toledo.
Getting on in age, being alone and with some health issues, Matthews moved to Connecticut to be with his daughter Mrs. Homer Rockwell of New Canaan, CT.
Matthews taught art throughout his life privately and at schools including: Wayman School of Art, Elizabethtown, NY; Brooklyn, NY; Toledo, OH, and in Westport, CT.
Before 1940, Matthews’ style was described as ‘impressionist’ but exhibited illustrative art tendencies.
On Wednesday, September 13, 1966, at the age of 98, William F. Matthews died at Abbet Manor Convalescent home, Bridgeport, CT and was buried in Brooklyn, NY.
The artist should not be confused with William Matthews, born in 1949 who painted horses and ‘western’ scenes.
1997 : Gallery of Functional Art, Bergamot Station Art Center, Santa Monica, CA, “I Have a Love of Things!”, March 17 – May 18.
1930-1931 : Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, “Oil paintings by Brooklyn and Long Island artists”, November 21, 1930 – January 2, 1931.
1926 : The Neighborhood Club, Brooklyn, NY, “Exhibition of landscapes, decorative paintings and a few drawings”, December 1-30, shown “Eventide”, painted in Flatbush, Bergen Beach, Van Cortland Park, Barren Island.
1915 : St. Louis Artists’ Guild, St. Louis, MO, “St. Louis Artists’ Guild Competitive Exhibition”, [unknown date].
1914 : St. Louis Artists’ Guild, St. Louis, MO, “St. Louis Artists’ Guild Competitive Exhibition”, [unknown date].
1914 : The City Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, “Ninth annual exhibition of selected American artists”, September 6.
1914 : Society of Western Artists’, The City Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, “Nineteenth annual exhibition”, December.
1914 : Two-by-Four Society, St. Louis, MO, “Annual exhibition”, [unknown date].
1913 : The City Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, “Eighth annual exhibition of selected American artists”, [unknown date].
1913 : Society of Western Artists’, The City Art Museum, St. Louis, MO,”Eighteenth annual exhibition”, November 16 – December.
– “Rustic Elegies” by Edith Sitwell, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, frontispiece.
– Brooklyn Society of Painters and Sculptors, founder and first president
– St. Louis Artists Guild
– Society of Ancients
– Two-by-Four Society
– The Neighborhood Club
– Society of Western Artists’
1915 : St. Louis Artists Guild, the second Halsey C. Ives Landscape Prize ($50) for “A Winter morning”.
1914 : St. Louis Artists Guild, prize for
1938 : Mural at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Toledo, OH,
– “William Matthews ‘Missouri Woodlands’.” Mccaughenandburr.com. Updated July 1, 2015. Accessed August 6, 2017. http://www.mccaughenandburr.com/william-matthews-missouri-woodlands
– “William F Matthews (1878 -1966) American illustrator poster mural oil to $5300.” Worthpoint.com. Updated November 2, 2012. Accessed August 6, 2017. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/william-matthews-1878-1966-american-310078437
– “No one knows how Toledo church mural, painting came to be.” Toledoblade.com. Updated December 5, 2007. Accessed August 6, 2017. http://www.toledoblade.com/Art/2007/12/05/No-one-knows-how-Toledo-church-mural-painting-came-to-be.html
– The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, CT, “William F. Matthews [obituary]”, Saturday, September 17, 1966, page 29, not illustrated.
– St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, MO, “William F. Matthews Dies; Was Post-Dispatch Artist”, Friday, September 26 1966, page 17, not illustrated.
– American Art Annual, American Federation of the Arts, Washington, DC, “St. Louis Artist’s Guild”, Volume 12, 1915, page 134.
– Bulletin, City Art Museum of St. Louis, MO, “St. Louis artists’ work in museum exhibitions from the Globe-Democrat, Dec. 14, 1914”, Volume 1, 1914.
– “Special Exhibition Catalogue” by the City Art Museum of St. Louis, MO, 1914, page 53, not illustrated.
– Art News, Art Foundation Press, “Western artists exhibit”, Volume 12, 1913, page 7, not illustrated.