“The fact that art production and art patronage can never be separated explains why such artists as Mathews flourished and put their stamp upon their appreciative public. He is one of the last mural decorators of the West to profit from individual patronage. His life as an artist is rich in initiative of the old order. He has been the recipient of more lavish praise than probably any other California artist. He has been called the “Dean of California Mural Painters”, and a friendly critic writes, “He walks side by side with the recognized masters of all time.” Among his critics there was not one dissenting voice. In ample archives his career is entirely praiseworthy, while in fact his art rings true to his time and gains a faded luster as sturdier motives and less romantic subjects speak boldly about the “machine age”, speed, and a new world to solve.
In the light of changing values and an awakening world, which is beginning to dictate that the artist must know how to use his craft, the inner spirit of his craft, in the service of humanity, we deplore today such extravagant praise. However we recognize that Arthur Mathews was a master craftsman and exerted tremendous influence on California art and hundreds of students.”
At a glance
Birth : October 1, 1860, in Markesan, Wisconsin (United States)
Death : 1945 in San Francisco, California (United States)
Arrival in San Francisco Bay area : 1866
Married to : Lucia Kleinhans
Occupations : Tonalist painter, architect, designer, lithographer muralist and teacher. Director of the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. Co-founder of the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
Art education, teachers : Henry Bruer, Académie Julien (Paris, France) with Boulanger, California School of Design
Relations : Homer Davenport (cartoonist), Horace Hill, William Keith, Lucia Mathews, Jacques Rey (Britton & Rey), William Sparks, John Zeile
Patrons : Andrew Carnegie, W.A. Dingee, James D. Phelan, F.M. Smith, J.R. Taussig, California Public Libraries, Savings Union Bank, State Capitol Sacramento, Masonic Temple,
Institutions, clubs, venues : Art Students’ League, San Francisco Art Association, Bohemian Club, Athenian Club, Art Club (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).
Resources in the Bancroft Library
Hooker Family Papers – Portraits, Drawings and Photographs ca. 1880-ca. 1949. BANC PIC 1977.006-.008–PIC. Drawings include sketches of the San Francisco Art Club from 1882-1886, one signed by Arthur F. Mathews (a portrait of Ethel Beaver). Catalog Record
Harvey L. Jones (c2006). The art of Arthur and Lucia Mathews. San Francisco : Pomegranate. Catalog Record
Harvey L. Jones (1985). Mathews : masterpieces of the California decorative style. Santa Barbara : Peregrine Smith. Catalog Record