Leopold Charles Matzal at work 001

Leopold Charles Matzal at work on a portrait.

In our age we are both blessed and cursed with an overwhelming amount of information, and astounding technology that can deliver that information at lightning speeds. Among the technologies that we take for granted is the ever-present camera. In this context, Leopold Charles Matzal’s greatest gift stands out. His ability to sit quietly and capture a facet of human personality on canvas calls us to respond. His portraits are an invitation to contemplate and appreciate the unique spirit of each individual.

 Leopold was both fast and slow at his work. People often commented on his ability to reproduce a face in the space of 15 minutes or a half an hour. A 1955 thank-you note from a Margaret Manley of WBGO television includes this line: “I still can’t understand how you did such a lovely likeness in such a short time.” On the other hand, when Leopold executed a life-size portrait in oil, he was a stickler for perfection. In a written proposal to paint a portrait of Mr. Ferdinand Thun of Wyomissing, PA (1940s, never actually commenced), Leopold writes: “As a rule, I require about 5-8 sittings lasting one hour each.” Whether a sketch or a full-length oil-on-canvas portrait, Leopold had the patience to take in the person, and reproduce the fullness of his or her expression.



Catskill Bear Trapper (West Shokan, NY), circa 1941, oil on canvas, 35 1/4″ x 30 1/2″.

This painting took first prize for oil painting at the 18th Annual Art Exhibition of the Irvington (NJ) Art and Museum Association. On that occasion Matzal related to a local newspaper his challenge in obtaining the sitting:portrait_oil_20 “He was most reluctant to pose at first, citing his age, but after much coaxing, he finally gave in. Then came another problem. He appeared at first in his Sunday best, a stiff white collar and a brand new straw hat. And he was clean shaven. So I had to persuade him that I wanted him to look as I had always known him” (Irvington Herald and Times, Thursday, May 10, 1951, p. 14).


My Friend Louis (Louis Legakis), 1952, oil on canvas, 41 1/2″ x 35 1/2″.

Matzal portrait of Louis LegakisLouis Legakis (1915-2014) was
a student of Matzal’s at the
Newark School for Fine
and Industrial Arts, 1949-1951.







Untitled (Edmund Matzal, the artist’s son),
circa 1944, oil on canvas, 57″ x 34 1/4″.

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Untitled (Mr. Webb, Summit, NJ),
1949, oil on canvas, 36″ x 25″.

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The Green Sash, 1922, oil on canvas
[period black-and-white photograph].

The Green SashThis portrait of Mrs. Marguerite Singer
of Hoboken was awarded prizes at
exhibitions in Orange, Newark, and
Philadelphia. It was selected for
the 1923 Winter Exhibition of the
National Academy, New York City.

Untitled  (Bertha Hanniball, Hoboken, NJ), 1923, oil
on canvas [period black-and-white photograph].

Bertha Hanniball






 Comfortable, circa 1925, oil on
canvas [period black-and-white photograph].

ComfortableThis portrait of Mr. Max Nitsche was
selected for the 1926 Winter Exhibition
of the National Academy, New York City.
It was also part of an exhibit displayed
in various museums across the midwest
under the auspices of the American
Federation of Artists.

Untitled (Edmund W. Miller),
1924, oil on canvas
[period black-and-white photograph].

  Edmund Miller

In January of 1924 Matzal exhibited portraits
at the Jersey City Free Public Library, Bergen Branch.
A newspaper review of the exhibition described this
portrait: “A likeness of Librarian E. Miller was another
of considerable merit. Mr. Miller’s portrait represented him
in characteristic pose, a book in the right hand, his left
toying with his watch chain — a custom of the librarian
(Jersey Journal, January 15, 1924).
In 1954, the Bergen branch of the Jersey City Public
Library was renamed the Miller Branch in his honor.






Mr. Alvoni Allen, 1928, oil on canvas, 40″ x 30″ [period black and white photo and color detail].

Alvoni Allen

This portrait is of Alvoni R. Allen of Jersey City.
Art critic Elisabeth Luther Cary viewed the portrait
at the 1929 Annual Exhibition of the National
Academy in New York City. She described it
as “as sympathetic and consistent version of a
personality that remains vital under the modifying
veil of age. The tender modeling of the flesh, the
light-suffused shadows, the drawing of the hands
in the slightly stiffened gesture of the old, especially
the expression of a wise patience, make this portrait
noticeable in its quietness.”
(New York Times, March 24, 1929, page 12)

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More Portraits


Dorothy Deimel. Circa 1927.


Milo S. Borden. Circa 1943.


Mrs. Fields. Circa 1945.

Dorothy Miller

Dorothy Miller. Circa 1923.

Mrs Legakis

Helen Legakis. 1951.

Mrs Hatfield

Nina Hatfield. 1923.

Louis Chasin

Louis Chasin. Circa 1940.

Vice Chancellor Fallon

John J. Fallon. 1927.

Horace Allen 1923

Horace Allen. 1922.

Griffin, mayor of Hoboken

Patrick Griffin. 1922.

uniform 1927

Dennis D. Sullivan. 1927.


Valentine Dutchyshyn. 1954.


Frederich Charles Grasme.


Elsa Matzal


Russian Cap. Circa 1919.


Elsa Grasme Matzal.


Elsa Grasme.

Anna Baar

Anna Baar. 1923.


Elsa Grasme. 1925.

Thomas Hatfield

Thomas F. Hatfield. 1922.

McCullough 1922

Matilda McCullough. 1922.


George F. Sullivan. 1925.


Siegfried Husserl. 1930.



The Sculptor. 1945.


Time Has Told. Circa 1919.


Erwin Grasme. 1929.

Frances Sonia Barnett 1925

Frances & Sonia Barnett. 1925.


Traugott J. Schnik. 1943.

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