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Though he might have made a bigger name for himself in some international art capital, Arthur F. Mathews (American, 1860–1945) steadfastly rejected the idea of leaving California. He once remarked that he would rather live and work in San Francisco than wear medals in Paris—and he had done both. A lifelong artist, influential teacher, and tireless civic-arts advocate, Mathews and his wife, artist Lucia K. Mathews, developed the California Decorative Style—a signature fusion of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts styles.
From around 1910, the couple made annual summer visits to the Monterey Peninsula, where they maintained a house and studio. The relaxed social atmosphere and inspiring landscape resulted in numerous paintings that exploited the aesthetic possibilities of the seacoast. The distinctive light and color indigenous to the region brought forth more intensity of color to Mathews’ low-toned palette, and the many paintings he made of stands of cypress trees along the Monterey coast remain today among his most popular tonalist paintings.