MATTHEW RIDLEY CORBET (1850-1902)
Matthew Ridley Corbet was born on 20 May 1850 at South Willingham, Lincolnshire. He was the son of the Rev. Andrew Corbet and his wife, Mariane formerly Ridley. His father was connected to the Shropshire family being a descendant of Robert of Humfreston (died 1644) and Bridget, the daughter of Sir James Pryse of Ynasmaengwyn. (She later married Sir Walter Lloyd, kt.)
He was educated at Cheltenham College and then went to London. In 1871 he appears on the Census for 103 Green Street, St Pancras, London as an Art Student, aged 20 years. He was living in the home of Alexander D. Cooper who was an historical artist. He studied at the Slade School and the Royal Academy schools and had his first exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1875. This was the portrait of Lady Slade. He was exhibited again in 1877 (Mrs Heneage Wynne-Finch) and in 1879 (Lady Clay). He continued to paint occasional portraits but from 1883 he concentrated almost solely on landscapes. He exhibited thirty-eight works at the Royal Academy between 1875 and 1902, when he was elected an Associate. He also sent several works to the Grosvenor Gallery (1871) and the New Gallery.
He gained a bronze medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1889 for 'Sunrise'; and his 'Morning Glory' (near the Severn) (1894) and 'Val d'Arno' - Evening (1901) are in the Tate Gallery. Other works were 'Passing Storm' (1896), 'Autum Rains' (1896) and 'Florence in Spring' (1898).
He was a pupil and follower of Giovanni Costa in Rome for three years and was generally at his best when painting Italian skies.
His work displayed a sensitiveness to the beauty of nature and a restful harmony of colour. His paintings were too refined to win the support of the masses. His work was just beginning to be appreciated when he died from pneumonia on 25 June 1902 at his home at 54 Circus Road, St John's Wood. His body was cremated and his ashes laid behind a tablet on the wall of South Willingham church.
On 17 March 1891 he had married Mrs Arthur Murch (formerly Edith Jane Edenborough) who was also a landscape artist whose vision and methods were similar to his. She exhibited at the Royal Academy, the New Gallery and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.
Arthur Murch, Edith's first husband was also an
artist. He was a pupil of Charles Gleyre in 1859 and was active as an
artist between 1859-1868. He was a friend of Val Prinsep and Frederic
Leighton, whom he met in Rome, where he painted views of Rome and the
Campagna. It was Leighton who convinced him to go Paris to draw. At the
end of 1868 Murch left London for health reasons. Whilst he was away in
1869, JW made use of his studio, which, at 62 Great Russell Street,
Bloomsbury, was just opposite the British Museum, giving JW easy access
to its collections
A bust portait of Corbett was sculptured by E. Onslow-Ford and a medallion portrait by Alfred Gilbert, R.A.
Bibliography: Dictionary of National Biography 1901-1911; Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers.