Arthur and Lucia Mathews
At the end of the nineteenth century, as a reaction and revolt against the smog and tyranny of the newly industrialized world, a group of English craftsmen and artists began to preach a return to simplicity. Their words began the Arts and Crafts Movement, which rapidly spread throughout Europe and America. By the beginning of the twentieth century, followers of the Movement were flocking to California to enjoy the splendor of the state’s fresh air and natural beauty. More …
In 1906, Arts and Crafts followers Arthur Mathews (1850-1945) and his wife Lucia Mathews (1870-1955) started producing hand-made furniture and decorative house wares in a small San Francisco workshop named The Furniture Shop. Their style was distinctly Californian, highlighting the native flora and picturesque landscapes for which the state was known.
The Oakland Museum of California houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of Mathews works in the world. It is comprised of over 500 artworks and objects including paintings, sketches, furniture, and frames, as well ephemera and other archival material. Mr. Harold Wagner and the OMCA Art Guild donated the majority of this collection to the OMCA in the mid-1960s.
One of the highlights of the Mathews collection is the large stained glass window designed by Arthur Mathews for the San Francisco Women’s City Club. The Club commissioned the window in 1925 as a memorial to Mrs. Franc Pierce Hammon who, as chairwoman of the Club’s 1925 membership campaign, quadrupled the Club’s membership in one month’s time prior to her death only two weeks later. The window—the perhaps the only glass work designed by Mathews—remained in the Clubhouse until the building was demolished over 30 years later. The window-within-window design epitomizes the California Arts and Crafts style, displaying a lush landscape of magnolias, poppies, and rhododendrons surrounding a mountain village beneath a golden cloudscape.