Matthew Smith, Yorkshire Landscape, c1935
20 x 24 in.
Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith (1879-1959) was a British painter. Born in Halifax, he studied at the Manchester School of Art and then the Slade School of Art in London. In 1908 Smith traveled to France where he studied under Henri Matisse, whose influence can be seen in some of his work. Smith was also influenced by Fauvism in general, taking the style to extremes. Many of his other landscapes show a distinctly Impressionist or Post-Impressionist influence. In addition to landscapes, Smith painted portraits, often nudes, and some very Cezanne-inspired still-lifes. Smith had a very successful career and was knighted in 1954. The landscape I have featured, painted in Smith's home county of Yorkshire, stands out among his oeuvre, showing less influence of other painters and styles. Using rather thick and visible brushstrokes, the piece creates a powerful expression of this tree and hillside. The purple sky tinges the whole painting with an element of fantasy, which when combined with the thick canals of paint, draws attention to itself as representation rather than reality. Nevertheless, the painting is an intensely effective portrayal of its subject, showing the wind and wildness that whips across this hill.