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Vermelde kunstenaars: Arthur F. Mathews, John. H. Vanderpoel.

Students Astonish the Folk by Celebrating.
He Speaks of the Result to Art of Students Making a Home Across the Sea.

Almost hidden away from the knowledge of his closest friends, in one of the
old-fashioned blocks on Montgomery street, Arthur F. Mathews has his studio.
In other out-of-the-way corners or the quaint old building may be found members
of the fraternity, and the owner of the property is, apparently, so well disposed
toward the guests, some of whom have had studios in the building for years, that,
not being able to rent the lower premises for ordinary commercial purposes,
be refuses to allow tenants to gain possession who might cause annoyance and possibly
break up tbe little party of artists upstairs.

But even at the studio one is not assured of always finding Mr. Mathews. He
is a hard worker and travels far afield in making studies which are afterward made
use of in the studio. There is an exceptional interest attached to his advancement
in his chosen profession, inasmuch as he has mounted each rung of the ladder
of prosperity by his own unaided exertions. Popularly speaking he is not a
native son, but inasmuch as be arrived in California when little more than an infant,
he may be regarded, so far as education and personal predilection can be
placed against the accident of birth, as a true son of the Golden State.
The elder Mathews was, and indeed still continues as, an architect, and under his
direction the lad of 10 years was put te work at a draughting-board. He had to
stand on a stool to work and the strain was considerable, but inasmuch as this
lesson was granted as a privilege and not extorted as a task it was valued and enjoyed.
At the age of 15 years he entered his father's office, but in whatever spare
time he could command he would be painting or planning how he might carry his
scheme of a European trip out at a minimum cost. A little piece of good fortune
helped to smooth some rough places at this time, and the incident which resulted so
happily illustrates the dogged persistency of the boy, and which some friend of Mr.
Mathews say is still a marked characteristic of his. An Eastern engineering publication
called for plans for a model school-house, supposed to be for use in a section
of New York City.
Young Mathews determined to try and win the prize in this competition. He
orked at his plans at night, so that neither his father nor any of his friends
would know anything about the matter if he were defeated. His plans upon being
submitted carried off the first prize of $250, and this sum was the nest-egg that
accumulated and was put to good service later on.
When about 20 young Mathews joined a large printing-house for the purpose of
learning lithography. About this time, too, he made some little money by doing
illustration work for the weeklies and monthlies.
In 1685 came about the consummation of his hopes. He went to Europe.
"I know very well," said Mr. Mathews, while speaking of his experiences in
Europe, "that there are some students who go to Paris without having clearly
defined ideas as to what they require. Some, too, are blessed - or cursed, just as
you view it - with overmuch money and

squander their time. I think, however, these classes of boys and girls are really
after all very small. I myself paid my own way, and having earned the money
first you can he certain that I expended it judiciously. I joined the Julian Academy
and studied aho in the ateliers of Boulanger and Le Felbre. The first winter I
gained one of the first prizes for drawing and got two compositions on the wall -
the latter considered a high honor among the students. The second winter I won
the academy medal for painting from life, and at that time I felt very happy. I had
been fully justified in making the trip, and being compelled to buckle down to hard
work agreed with me.
I exhibited two pictures in each of the Salons of '87, '88 and '89, the first year both
were hung on the line, and all my work at this time met with good ready sale."
"Do you think, then," was asked of Mr. Mathews, "that better work can be done
in Europe than here? And is that the true explanation why in all the art centers
of Europe an American colony is established?"
"No, I don't believe that better work can be done in Europe by an American
than here. When I arrived in Paris and was fairly embarked on student life, I felt
that I was in just the place for the student. After learning all I could traveling quite a
good deal. I felt that the sooner I returned to America the better it would be for me.
The reason is really simple and easily to be explained. An artist cannot reach the
highest point of development in a foreign country, because in order to be in close
touch with the people, whose manners and customs he must depict, he must denationalize
himself. Is it reasonable to suppose that I can go to France, and without that
subtle sympathy which the French painter has for his country-people, paint as good
pictures as the native-born artist?
"The American and other artists who bave taken up their - residence in various
cities of Europe have, so it seems to me, been successful in making artistic success
of their lives just in a degree proportionate with the ease with which they threw aside
all their national characteristics. In course of time these men, so far as their
art work is concerned, have become influenced by the atmosphere wherein they
have lived for so long.
"Thank heaven!" added Mr. Mathews, "the young American artists are showing
a strong inclination to 'study' abroad and 'live' on their native soil. This will result,
in a few years ot active work, in establishing something approximating to an American school of painting."
Mr. Mathews, thinking probably he had spoken rattier severely regarding those
artists who preferred to cast their lot with foreigners rather than return to America,
gave some curious experiences of tne manner in which American students sometimes
show their patriotic feeling.
"Four other students and myself," said he, "made a five months' trip during the
summer of : '87 in Holland
. - Vanderpool, who is teacher of the life class in Chicago
now, acted as cicerone and about the beginning of July landed us in a pretty little
village between Dortrecht and Rotterdam [= Rijsoord]. These simple-minded folk had never seen
an artist to that time, but we acted as pioneers, for now the village is a headquarters
for a crowd of art students.
"Independence day was close at hand and the five of us determined to teach our
hosts a little bit of American history. It puzzled us at first to hit upon a plan of
celebration, but we devised an excellent scheme. Every year on the King's birthday
his Majesty donates a small sum of money to the school children throughout
the country. The farmers lend their wagons and the children are taken for an
outing besides being gorged with milk, cake and fruit.
"We worked in our little village on the same plan as his Majesty. The farmers
gladly lent their wagons we got twentyfive of them— and the Burgomaster of the
district with a number of the neighboring aristocracy drove into the village and lent
eclat to the occasion. Three hundred school children turned out and sang several
American national songs, after which lunch was served in the schoolhouse. After
lunch the little folks were packed away in the wagons and driven through the neighboring
villages, in all a circuit ot about ten miles. Whenever they arrived work was
stopped and a holiday taken, while our I contingent of singers sang 'The Starspangled Banner,' etc.,
before driving I away en route to the next stopping place.
In the evening we entertained the Burgomaster and the officials of the village to
dinner and altogether we had a very pleasant and enjoyable celebration, that year."
In the year 1889 Mr. Mathews returned to this city and at once took charge of the
life class of the Art Students' League. The year following he taught the antique and
life classes at the Art School and has remained identified with the work being done at the Art School ever since.
His ideas regarding the need of a good gallery for the especial use of students are worthy of note.
"If I had the means to do something to help art students along," remarked Mr. Mathews,
"I would make a collection of originals and reproductions of drawings.
To the student they are far more useful than paintings. What is termed the artistic
instinct is really a combination of certain qualities which are, I think, a matter
of inheritance rather than of training. It seems strange, but there are some people
that are as blind to form as others are to color. Now, as a matter of fact, a painter
may be weak in color and yet be a great muster. But what can be said of a student
who is weak in form and puts in the shadows all wrong? For these and many
other reasons I believe a good collection of drawings would be of even more benefit to
the student part of the community than a collection of paintings."
"And what would bo the result If the city had both - a collection of drawings
and also of paintings?" was asked.
"The result would be," answered Mr. Mathews, "that students would not leave
for Europe, if at all, until they had advanced in their studie far beyond the
point they are now limited by. But after all it is a good thing for boys and girls to
be thrown on their own resources. All the time a student is tied to home, he or she
as the case may be, is more often than not trying to do something to gratify the
people at home. Now that is entirely wrong. The most successful pupils must
of necessity have the least work to show.
"Why so?" echoed Mr. Mathews. "I will tell you. While one is studying, the
student is passing through an experimental stage which means spoiling everything.
When the student is intent upon doing some work to please his or her friends,
it is easily to be understood how the experimental process stops at once and
only what is absolutely known is introduced into the picture."
"And what work are you engaged upon at present?" was hurled as a parting shot at
the complaisant artist who had so cheerfully gossiped for the benefit of THE CALL readers.
"Fur nearly four months," was the reply, "I have been working out of doors.
Nearly all art studies, and I am taking them is pastel as I can work them up so
much quicker. Some, of course, I will utilize later on, but others again are mere sketches.

San Francisco Call, Volume 74, Number 67, 6 August 1893