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Sir Matthew Smith (1879-1959)
Pastel and charcoal on paper
Signed in ink lower right
In James Bourlet frame, the client being Lenygon & Morant Ltd. Lenygon & Morant were one of the top interior designers of the time, working in both London and New York, clients included Buckingham Palace and Nelson Rockefeller. The drawing was framed in 1959 with the same order number as at least two other works by Matthew Smith.
Smith was born into an affluent family in Halifax, and was expected to join the family business manufacturing wire. He chose instead to study design at the Municipal School of Technology, Manchester. From 1905, Smith attended the Slade School of Fine Art in London, one of the most progressive art schools of the day, and from 1910 he studied in Paris. Although Smith spent much of his life in France, where his work was influenced by Matisse and the post-Impressionists, he developed a distinctive, fluid style recognisably his own. His achievements were recognised with a retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1953 and a knighthood the following year.
Francis Bacon, a great admirer of Smith, wrote in 1953 that Smith’s painting “tends towards a complete interlocking of image and paint, so that the image is the paint and vice versa. Here the brush-stroke creates the form and does not merely fill it in. Consequently, every movement of the brush on the canvas alters the shape and implications of the image. That is why real painting is a mysterious and continuous struggle with chance…”.