|Published||W. Matthews, St. Aldates,Oxford [n.d. c. 1830]|
|Dimensions||Image 67 x 102 mm, Sheet 183 x 113 mm|
A rare letter head showing Oriel College engraved and published by William Mathews.
William Mathews (died 1866) was an Oxford 'Engraver-in-general' and the son of a Bristol book-seller. His father's family were long on lineage but one short on marriage, being related to the Earls of Landaff and the temperance advocate Theobald Mathew, known as Father Mathew.
Little is known about the engraver's education although his descendants assumed he had been at Oxford and had trained under Henry Fuseli, presumably at the Royal Academy. Mathews married a Dorchester girl in 1804 and it is likely that he was in Oxford by this time. We can be certain that he was in Oxford before 1822 when he was awarded the status of Priviligatus as sculptor in Aedes literally meaning 'In house engraver', probably to the Press.
His work was mostly commercial including engraving & printing at least a dozen local trade cards and many visiting cards: it was on the back of such plates that he etched his minitures of the Oxford Amanacks. As an artist he showed imagination, printing these Almanacks on velvet and producing a handful of Oxford views some of which he published. His work also shows antiquatian interest, etching the Blenheim 'Titians', a portrait of an old lady, from a picture in Jesus College, and a copy of the 'School of Athens' then in Bodley. Recently a portrait of John Fane, of Wormsley, has come to light. He also carved the figure on the house on Folly Bridge.
Mathews lived for a long time in St Aldates, as did many local artists before moving to 14 Grove Street and finally to 16 Oriel Street. His son Michael Angelo Mathews seems to have been in partnership with his father before setting up independently as an engraver and 'Artists Colourman'. His customers included John Ruskin.