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The Fauves

I have been looking at the paintings of Matthew Smith who was a British artist working in the early / middle part of the last century. He was greatly influenced by the Fauves. He was great favourite of a friend of mine when I was at the RA Schools, and I’ve always liked his paintings - his use of colour is both sensuous and vivid, and his compositions are so dynamic and modern. I’ve included a still life painting that he completed in the south of France in 1936.

The painting is in the collection of the Tate Gallery and here is their account of the work together with a link to the Tate website. ‘Still Life with Clay Figure, 1’ was painted in Aix-en-Provence, where Matthew Smith lived between the years 1936–40. When France fell in June 1940 the artist was evacuated to London and this was one of a number of canvases left in Aix during the war years in the care of Madame Monay, wife of the artist Pierre Monay. In 1946–7, Smith returned to Aix to recover these works and subsequently took them to Paris, where, in June 1947, he was joined by Richard Smart, who had agreed to help him transport the works back to England.

.........The clay figure of the series provides the central motif for a number of Matthew Smith's still lifes of the period - other examples are: ‘Clay Figure with Peaches’ (1938–40), also exhibited in the 1947 exhibition and afterwards acquired by the late Lady Hayward of Adelaide, South Australia, and an un-numbered ‘Still Life with Clay Figure’ of c.1938. Other references are less overt. It is interesting to note the appearance of part of the figure's head, in an earlier still life, ‘Peaches’ (1937) (Tate Gallery, N05266). Richard Smart has suggested that the recurrent use of a sculptural image in his still lifes may have reflected the artist's long-standing friendship with Jacob Epstein. ‘

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