SMITH Sir Matthew
Born in 1879 in Halifax, England. After studying at the Manchester School of Art and, later, at the Slade School in London, Smith went to Paris in 1910 and has alternated between France and England ever since. He was a member of the London Group. His father, a well-known collector of academic painting, at first encouraged his son's career, but when he saw that he was being drawn to the work of the Impressionists, he attempted to put a stop to it. It was only in 1908, at the age of twenty-nine, that Smith obtained his father's permission to go to France -- and even then he was forbidden to go to Paris! Attracted by the Gauguin legend, he went first to paint at Pont-Aven. When he finally got to Paris, he enrolled at the academy Matisse had founded in the former Convent of the Birds. Unfortunately it closed a month after Smith's arrival. In 1914, he adopted the Fauvist manner, which he retained throughout his career but which he enriched with more and more brilliant arabesques, using rich, oily colour dominated by his sonorous reds. Sir Matthew Smith occupies an important position in the contemporary English school: as the ambassador of French painting he has aroused among his compatriots an interest in 'pure' painting and has restored to the act itself a dignity which it had not known since Turner's day.
In 1950, 26 of Smith's works were shown in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and in 1953, the Tate Gallery held the first complete Matthew Smith retrospective, surveying his career from 1909 on by means of a selection of 81 oils.
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