Sir Matthew Smith

Still Life


Not on display

Sir Matthew Smith 1879–1959
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 806 × 997 mm
Presented by Sir Matthew and Lady Smith 1943, in memory of A/Sq. Ldr F.M. Smith, killed on active service 1940, and Sq. Ldr C.D. Smith DFC, killed in air combat 1941

Display caption

In the 1930s Smith lightened the colours of his painting. This was in contrast to the sometimes impenetrable reds and browns he had used earlier. This still life is based on the weird mauve colour of the anemone flowers in the basket at the left. In some places the paint is thin, so that the white ground shines through as in a watercolour. The design is like a still life by Cézanne, but Smith's fluid brushstrokes suggest the liveliness of the fruit.

This is one of Smith's largest still lifes. He and his wife chose it to present to the Tate Gallery during the war, as a memorial to their two sons, their only children, both killed while serving with the Royal Air Force.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

N05401 STILL LIFE c. 1936

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 31 3/4×39 1/4 (85×100).
Presented by Sir Matthew and Lady Smith 1943 in memory of their sons A./Sq. Ldr. F. M. Smith, killed on active service 1940, and Sq. Ldr. C. D. Smith, killed in air combat 1941.
Exh: Tate Gallery, September–October 1953 (59); R.A., October–December 1960 (202).

In the Tate exhibition catalogue, 1953, this painting was dated c. 1936.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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