Lucia Kleinhans Mathews Biography

Lucia Kleinhans Mathews




Painter Lucia Kleinhans Mathews was born in San Francisco, California, in 1870. Exhibiting an early aptitude for art, she was encouraged by her parents to pursue painting. In the late 1890s she enrolled in Mills College, then an all-women's college in Oakland, where she studied for one year before transferring to the Johns Hopkins Institute. There she met Arthur Frank Mathews, who she married in 1894 with whom she formed a professional collaborative art career. 

In 1899 Mathews traveled to Paris to study at the Academie Carmen. There, she discovered the works of Whistler, who would remain a great influence on on her style. Upon her return to the United States she and Arthur continued to work in Oakland. Following the great 1906 earthquake, the pair relocated the San Francisco, where they set up a studio at 1717 California Street. That same year, they collaborated with entrepreneur John Zeile Jr. to found The Mathews Furniture Shop (1906 - 1920), where the pair created murals, furniture, frames, and other objets d'art. Additionally, they founded Philopolis Press and began publishing Philopolis, an art and literature periodical dedicated to envisioning a post-earthquake San Francisco aesthetic, influencing what would become the California Decorative Style.

Their influence of the Mathews on the Arts and Crafts scene of the San Francisco Bay Area quickly grew, and they would become one of the leading collaborative art teams on the west coast. Lucia's interest and skill in gardening and botanical design earned her a position as an advisor to the creation of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. 

Mathews' personal artistic output was primarily focused on painting, and she became known for her Tonalist depictions of children and landscapes. Her work was highly sought after by collectors of Beaux Arts, Arts and Crafts, and Orientalist enthusiasts throughout California.

Mathews died in 1955, four years after relocating to her sister's home in Los Angeles.  

San Francisco Art Association, 1896-1906
Sketch Club (SF), 1890s-1906
Lewis-Clark Expo (Portland), 1905
Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915 (silver medal)
San Francisco Museum of Art, 1935
Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939
Pasadena Center, 1974
Oakland Museum, 1972, 1985

Oakland Museum
Richmond (VA) Museum