‘Commence again’

May 22, 2020 § 1 Comment

The Art of Arthur & Lucia Mathews

By HARVEY L. JONES

Arthur F. Mathews’ well-deserved reputation as a hard master was revealed in his frequently harsh criticism and caustic comments about the students’ work. Although they regarded him with fear and awe, the students in his drawing classes were noted for the high quality of their draftsmanship.

As it was in the Parisian art academies, Mathews met with his classes twice weekly for the purposes of instruction and review of the students’ accumulated work. He had little patience with the untalented and was known to ignore some of the students working at their easels, making neither comment nor criticism for days or weeks at a time, as a way of discouraging all but the most diligent and dedicated in the class. Those students who aspired to Mathews’ high standards were rewarded with his generous attention and encouragement.

Despite his dictatorial teaching methods, Mathews did not expect the students to imitate his own approaches or themes. Moreover, during his 16 years as director of the California School of Design in San Francisco, he always advised his best students to seek further study in Paris. Mathews was also very supportive of the efforts of women in the arts.

A large number of California’s best artists, both men and women, from the first half of the 20th century were his students. They include, among many others, his wife Lucia Kleinhas Mathews, Armin Hansen, Florence Lundborg, Francis McComas, Xavier Martinez, Anne Bremer, Gottardo Piazzoni, Ralph Stackpole, Giuseppe Cadenasso, Isabel Hunter, Granville Redmond, Joseph Raphael and Euphemia Charlton Fortune.

— Excerpted from The Art of Arthur & Lucia Mathews by Harvey L. Jones (Pomegranate 2006), published by the Oakland Museum.

James Guilford Swinnerton | Commence again, A.F.M. (circa 1892) from the Mathews Archives at the Oakland Museum

§ One Response to ‘Commence again’

  • William Zeile says:

    Thanks for posting. Mary Okin, currently a doctoral student in art history at U.C. Santa Barbara, wrote her Master’s thesis on Arthur Mathews as an instructor who supported women artists.

    Here’s an excerpt from the abstract: “Mathews and his actions in defense of women are evaluated for the qualities suffragists identified as the ideal partner for the “New Woman” in the twentieth century. His ‘co-operation’ with and ‘defense’ of women artists toward a more moral and just relationship with women exemplifies what we can define as ‘New Man’ feminism.”

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