Matthew Rackham BARNES (1880-1951)

Hagemeyer, Johan. Matthew Barnes (1948). BANC PIC 1964.063--PIC. Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Hagemeyer, Johan. Matthew Barnes (1948). BANC PIC 1964.063–PIC. Johan Hagemeyer Photograph Collection. Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

“His work is not pleasing, in the popular sense because it is not readily understood. But if one studies his paintings, collectively, one begins to realize that beneath the tragical loneliness that is everywhere apparent in them, there is deep sincerity of purpose and unusual honesty of expression. His roads are lonely roads, whether they lead over wistfully beautiful twilight hills, or through the half-deserted night streets of the city. They may lack pure lure and appeal in the accepted sense, but there is in them what one might call a warm coolness of color, a somber richness, that betrays the exaltation of him who travels them alone. Read Matthew Barnes‘ biography in California Art Project, volume 19.

At a glance

Birth: 1880, in Kilmarnock, Scotland (United-Kingdom) Death : 1951, in  San Francisco, California (United States) Arrival in San Francisco Bay area : 1906 Married to :  Maude A. Miles (1882-1950) Skills : Painter, muralist, short stories writer, play-writer and actor Influence : Surrealism, Scotland folklore


Teachers : autodidact Relations : Joseph A. Danysh, Frida Kahlo,  Adaline Kent, Xavier Martinez, Diego Rivera, William Saroyan Patrons : Dr. Ruth Benedick, Joseph Danysh, Mr. and Mrs. Genperle,  Adaline Kent,  Leon Mondell, Mrs. Sigmund Stern Institutions, clubs, venues : California School of Fine Art, East West Gallery, Lebaudt Gallery, Modern Gallery, San Francisco Art Association, San Francisco Museum of Art, Society of Progressive Artists

Exhibitions and gifts

1916 San Francisco Art Association 1918  Annual exhibition at the California Palace of Fine Arts (and also 1921, 1922, 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1935, 1937) 1928 East Weast Gallery of Fine Arts ; Modern Gallery, Berkeley League of Fine Arts Annual 1929 California Palace of the legion of honor 1932 Annual traveling exhibition (Oakland); First annual traveling exhibition (Los Angeles) 1933 City of Paris Gallery 1934 Adams-Danysh Galleries 1935 De Young Memorial Museum; Paul Elder’s Gallery 1936 MOMA New York City

Resources in the Bancroft Library


Adams, Ansel (ca. 1925?). Photographs of Matthew Barnes’ paintings [graphic] Catalog record

Data visualization : mapping of Matthew Barnes’ biography

 Representative work

Barnes, Matthew. Twilight (undated) . In California art research. [Monographs] First series. San Francisco, Calif., 1936-1937 and in California art research. Microfiche edition. La Jolla, Calif. : L. McGilvery, 1987. Vol. 19. Bancroft Library

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