Mathews, Richard George, 1870-1955 : Richard George Mathews was born in Montreal on 16 July 1870, the son of Richard Mathews and Sarah Ahern. He was educated in Montreal public schools, and may have attended the life drawing classes of William Brymner. He worked for some years for the Canadian Pacific Railway, whose President, Sir William van Horne, became an early patron. Mathews' drawings were first published in the satirical newspaper Grip in 1892, and during a visit to New York he had illustrations published in the journals The Criterion, and Recreation. For 14 years, starting in 1894, he was a reportage artist on the staff of the Montreal Star, where he worked with the cartoonist and artist Henri Julien (1852-1908). Though not a member, Mathews exhibited regularly with the Royal Canadian Academy and was acclaimed for his adept portraits of visiting celebrities and other notables, including Lady Minto, Lord Strathcona, Mr. and Mrs. Forbes Robinson, and many high-ranking military officers. He was a member of the Montreal art community which included the sculptor R. Trait McKenzie, Maurice Cullen, F.S. Coburn, William Brymner, and the writer W.H. Drummond. In 1902 Mathews published Men and Women - Merely Players, a group of lithographic portraits.
After completing a series of commissions for the Governor General of Canada, Lord Minto, and with the patronage of Lady Minto, Mathews moved to London, England in 1908, and upon his arrival there opened a studio, where he produced portraits of professional and social celebrities in pastels, and also sent work back to Canada for the Star. Some of his sitters included Anna Pavlova, Ramsay MacDonald, Lillie Langtry, Sir Charles Wyndham, Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling, among others. Mathews' black and white drawings also translated well into his work as an illustrator of books and magazine articles, his work appearing in the periodicals Graphic, Bystander, Cassell's Magazine, The New Magazine, The World and his Wife, and later The Tattler.
Mathews married the actess Lily Nanton in 1912, settled in Hampstead, and they had a son, Denis Mathews, who was born on 18th August 1913 (died 1997), and who became a landscape painter, lithographer, illustrator, art administrator and critic.
After the outbreak of the First World War Mathews joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in England in December 1915 and was appointed to be Quatermaster and Honorary Lieutenant in the Canadian Army Medical Corps, C.E.F. Over the course of the war Mathews spent time in both England and France, produced a series of portraits for Canada in Khaki, and later relinquished his appointment as Quartermaster, retaining the rank of Honourary Captain, on 16th June 1918. At the end of April 1919 he was struck off the strength of the C.E.F. and retired from service.
After the War, Mathews published more of his etchings, and gradually moved from portraiture to landscape and architectural subjects. To commemorate the 600th anniversary of Oriel and Clare Colleges in 1926, Mathews produced two lithographs of the sites. He wrote and illustrated in 1933 a travelogue of the Medway and Thames rivers, Norfolk Broads, and the East and South Coasts, entitled Sailing Craft, published by Eyre & Spotiswoode. From 1935 he was a regular contributor to The Tattler, though he published little, if anything, after the Second World War. Mathews died in London in 1955, at age 85.
Mathews' drawings and portraits are held in both public and private collections in Canada and England. In Canada he is represented at Library and Archives Canada, the Portrait Gallery of Canada, the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. In England there are works by Mathews in the National Portrait Gallery.