Frank C. Mathewson
1861 - 1941
In present day, Frank Mathewson has become one of the most obscure important early artists of the Providence Art Club. Upon reviewing his life story, one discovers a very talented, well trained and respected artist in his time.
Frank Mathewson’s love for the arts was cultivated by his mother who was a painter and singer. It was only after a dismal failure in business that his career choice in art became clear. In 1888, with the financial support of his family, he began seriously studying art. He began his study in the evening class at the Rhode Island School of Design when it was located in the Hoppin Homestead Building. He attended the Lowell School of Practical Design, the National School of Decorative Art and the Ecole De Beaux Arts. He studied while in Europe under Mosler and Paul Laurens.
Mathewson painted in water colors and oils. Both were dominated by his love for color and he continuously demonstrated in the steady succession of works in his lifetime that color meant more to him than anything else. The subjects which interested him most were landscapes and flowers. He painted them with sincerity and clarity of vision and it was a Providence Journal Art critic who identified in Mathewson's landscapes that “the chief element of his strength was a striking capacity for catching distance.”
Throughout his career Mathewson maintained that he never was influenced markedly by any movement. Rather he remarked of his philosophy toward painting “better to be true to yourself and paint as you know you ought to paint a thing, eliminating, adapting but never losing sight of the plain face of nature which in the long run shall suffice the sons of man.”
Mathewson split his career between Providence and New York. He accumulated prizes and credentials which made him an important figure in the Rhode Island and New York art world. He won the Rhode Island School of Design Sullivan Prize in 1903 and the Providence Art Club's Member’s Prize in 1933. He founded the South County Art Club and was a member of the New York Water Color Club,Chicago Water Color Club, North Shore Arts Association of Glocester, South County Art Association, Salmagundi Club, American Water Color Society, Providence Art Club and Internationale Societe D'Aquarellistes.