Kendrick, Matthew (c.1797–1874), marine painter, was born in Dublin, the son of a customs official. His early life was tough: he worked as a seaman on a merchant ship and then on a fishing vessel in Newfoundland, an area known for its stormy seas. When he returned to Ireland, his vast knowledge of the sea and sailing made him one of the most sought-after yachtsmen, and boat owners employed him to sail their yachts in races.
He showed considerable talent in art and decided to take it up seriously when he entered the Royal Dublin Society Schools in 1825. Not surprisingly he focused his attention on the sea. His accurate depiction of yachts and steamers tossed on high seas were very popular. He first exhibited with the RHA in 1827, from an address at 21 South Anne Street, Dublin, with three works, one being ‘A fresh gale’. He was elected an associate member of the RHA on 24 October 1832 and was made a full member and keeper in 1850. Despite the fact that he lived in London from about 1840 to 1848, he managed to enter work in the RHA exhibitions almost every year. Between 1842 and 1846 he exhibited one painting, entitled ‘Scarborough, Yorkshire’, in the RA, three in the British Institute, and five sea pieces with the Society of British Artists. His wife was French, possibly from Boulogne: there are a couple of paintings entered in the RHA that indicate he visited there, including ‘The new pier of Boulogne sur Mer’ (1843). On the whole, most of the scenes are painted around the coast of Ireland, as he was the official painter to the Royal Irish Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown). The club boasts one of his best works, ‘Mail steamer off Kingstown’ (1866). He also recorded the tragic drowning of Captain J. McNeil Boyd and six of his men, while they were trying to save the crew of the Neptune wrecked on the east pier of Kingstown, during a gale on 9 February 1861.
About 1872 he suffered paralysis of the right arm because of illness, and left Dublin for London, where he spent the remaining two years of his life. He died 1 November 1874 at 61 Edbrooke Road, St Peter's Park, London, without leaving much financial support for his wife and two sons. Queen Victoria bought his painting ‘The departure of the queen and the royal squadron from Kingstown’, which was engraved by C. Mottram and was published in Dublin by Cranfield in 1852. His portrait by Richard Rothwell (qv) is in the NGI.