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It’s Sunday and it’s time to enjoy a painting about dancing! 🙂

Arthur F. Mathews was an American toner painter and one of the founders of the American Arts and Crafts movement. As an architect and artist, he and his wife Lucia Kleinhans Mathews had a major influence on the development of California art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His teachers influenced his artistic tastes: from 1885 to 1889 he studied art at the Académie Julian in Paris, where he was influenced by the academic classicism of his teachers Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre, the color palette of James Abbott McNeill Whistler Sex and the influence of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’ Symbolism.

In his art, Matthews is a master of many mediums: oil, watercolor, pastel, gouache and fresco. He and Lucia designed the detailed interior decoration scheme, which is known as the California decorating style. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, they led efforts to rebuild the city’s public spaces. Their major commissions include the Oakland Public Library, the library at the Institute of Mechanics, the Lane Medical Library on the Stanford University School of Medicine campus in San Francisco, and the Supreme Court Chambers at the California Supreme Court Building in San Francisco. In this work, what we see is the bright pastoral scenery of California, the plane of color and the graceful gesture of the dancer, the style of the painting tells us that the artist is looking at Japan on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

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Side note: Let us share with you the story of Mary Cassatt , an American Impressionist painter who found her passion and new life in Paris.


Oakland Museum of California

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