Richard George Mathews was born in Montreal, Canada in 1870. After publishing drawings for the satirical newspaper The Grip in 1892 and sketching in New York, he returned to Canada to work as reportage artist for The Montreal Star. At the Star, his portraits included the writer Rudyard Kipling (1900). Moving to London in 1907, he contributed shaded sketches and Edwardian celebrity portraits to the Star and to the British illustrated magazines The Bystander and The Graphic. During the Great War, he painted several pictures featuring British and Canadian soldiers and in the 1920s produced many celebrity portraits, including the journalist Arnold Bennett (1920) and writer Joseph Conrad (1921). By the mid-1930s, Mathews was increasingly preoccupied by architectural and landscape subjects and in 1935 accepted a commission to draw London scenes for the society magazine The Tatler.
During the London Blitz and in the immediate post war years, R.G. Mathews was appointed as a war artist by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee (WAAC), travelling from his home in Hampstead to record the many bomb sites of the ravaged capital. He produced a series of pencil, chalk and watercolour pieces of blitzed London buildings, including: St Paul’s After the Blitz (1941), After the Blitz; St Paul’s from Newgate Street (1941) Exterior view of workmen clearing away rubble from the damaged entrance of the Burlington Arcade (1941), View of damage to Peabody Buildings, Pimlico, 1945 (1945), Exterior/Interior of St James’s Piccadilly (1945), View of bombsite on the Strand (1946), View of damage to Shaftesbury Theatre, Oct 1945 (1945),View of bomb damage in Sutherland Terrace, Pimlico, 1945 (1945), View of the Church of St Anne’s, Soho, August 1945 (1945), View of St Clement Danes looking west (1946), View of bomb-damaged York Buildings (1945) View of bomb-damaged Christ Church, Broadway (1946), View of the bombed ruins of Little Theatre, John Adam Street (1946) and 18th Century houses seen through a bombsite in Victoria Street (1947).
R.G. Mathews died in 1955.