Misplaced Northampton artist featured in art history lecture series

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Northampton Guildhall

Northampton Museums and Art Gallery’s eighth art history lecture series will explore selected works of Ben Matthews, a Northampton-born artist who spent time in Paris studying under Fernand Léger, the important French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker, regarded as a forefather of Pop-Art.

Five weekly lectures will take place at Abington Park Museum on Fridays, between 12 October and 16 November, with art historians from the Pro Artium group discussing the various early twentieth century art movements that may have inspired Matthew’s works, including Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Orphism and Abstraction.

Mathews was born in Duston in 1889 and re-settled there prior to his death in 1975. He served in the Royal Air Force during both world wars and also spent time in Spain developing his Mediterranean paintings. It is thought that he also lived and worked in London in the 1950’s.

Councillor Anna King, Cabinet member for community engagement and safety, said: “Northampton Museums and Art Gallery have a significant collection of paintings by this artist, and we are delighted to be able to showcase these works, which are little known gems and mirror significant art movements.”

Alongside the lecture series, project curators are also appealing for anyone who has information about Ben Matthews to get in touch with them.

Dr Conny Bailey, from Pro Artium, said: “Matthews is a ‘misplaced master,’ barely documented as a painter, with a chronology of works which are unclear. Anyone with information or personal recollections about the artist could help us to find new starting points for further research.

“The high quality of his work suggests he may have moved on the periphery of the now prominent movements of his time, but was not close enough to become part of the art historic narrative. We’d like to establish Mathews’ rightful place amongst his more celebrated peers.”

Lectures will take place each Friday from 12 October, between 10:15am and 12:15pm. Tickets are priced at £6 per lecture, or £25 for the whole series. To book, please call 01604 838110 or visit www.northampton.gov.uk/museums

Anyone with information about Ben Matthews can contact Elizabeth Socci on 01604 838111, and by email esocci@northampton.gov.uk or in writing: Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP.

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