Nicholas Matthew Condy followed in the footsteps of his father, Nicholas Condy (1799-1857), also a marine artist, and was brought up in Plymouth where he developed his interest in ships. He began his career in the Navy but was unsuited to the military and left to take up painting. His work attracted the early attention of the Earl of Egremont, patron of J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851). Condy's detailed rendering of ship structure, especially rigging, was much admired and earned him many commissions to paint ship portraits. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1842 and 1845, and several of his paintings hang in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
Nicholas Mathew was born on the 12th of May 1818 in Dover to Nicholas Condy (1793-1857) and Ann Trevanion Condy (née Pyle; 1792-1860) and got baptised on the 6th of April 1824 in Plymouth, St Andrew. Mathew's dad was a successful and aesthetic painter of landscapes, and both son and father are often confused. Nicholas studied in the Mount Radford School in Exeter and later studied under The Reverend C Thomas of Lew Trenchard. Intended for a career in the Army or Navy, he chose to be a professional marine painter.
Matthew used an extensive knowledge of ships learnt in his hometown to make paintings of the exact & accurate ship portraits, and his native Devon countryside is enlisted & put forth in such paintings as Ships off Devonport and The Post Office Packet Shelldrake off Falmouth (both are exhibited and displayed in the National Maritime Museum, London). He is remembered and appreciated as a successful and established artist whose work is still looked for after today.
Nicholas Mathew resided in Plymouth until his unforeseen and premature death at the Grove, Plymouth, on the 20th of May 1851, when he lived only life for thirty-two years. After his death, Flora Ross, who was left a widow, was the third daughter of Major John Lockhart Gallie of the 28th Regiment and a daughter, Harriet Charlotte Florence Pigott Condy (1846-1880), who is remembered to have married the painter Walter Duncan (1848-1932). After Mathew's death, Flora decided to get married to her relative Samuel Charles Roby.
Mathew's work enthralled the early veneration of the Earl of Egremont, J.M.W Turner'sTurner's patron. Three of Mathew's exquisitely mesmerising sea pieces were exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1842 to 1845, which proffered hopes of becoming an illustrious artist.