Matthew Smith British, 1879-1959

Matthew Smith was born in Halifax, Yorkshire. He studied at Manchester School   of Technology and at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Visits to France   encouraged his interest in French painting, but the outbreak of war found him in   England. He took a studio in Fitzroy Street, where the painter Walter Sickert   was his neighbour. The impact of Smith's work lies principally in its use of   colour: strong, brilliant contrasts with paint laid on generously and   confidently. For he was a gifted and sensual colourist, and was equally   attracted to the work of Old Masters as he was to Gauguin and the French Fauve   painters. Despite living for an extended period in Paris, his early work,   especially the Fitzroy Street nudes and Cornish landscapes, belong to the   development of Post-Impressionism in Britain. These works possess a muscular   vigour and directness quite alien to the predominant styles of painting in   Britain at the time and are still remarkable for their immediacy. During World   War II both Smith's sons were killed and, separated from his wife, he lived an   increasingly solitary existence. He was knighted in 1954. A large group of his   paintings was shown at the Venice Biennale in 1950, and a major retrospective   shown at the Barbican Art Gallery, London in 1983.