Matchett Herring Coe was born in Loeb, Texas in 1907. As a young adult, he attended Lamar College, where he studied Electrical Engineering. After receiving his degree, he went to Cranbrook Educational Community, where he studied art.
During World War II, Coe was called to duty and served with the Navy. However, Coe's experience was most likely somewhat different from most men who served in that era, as he was a part of a unit called the Seabees based in Guadalcanal. The name Seabee comes from the initials CB, standing for Construction Battalion. The Seabees were a militarized construction crew that built and razed buildings for the military wherever they were sent.
This undoubtedly influenced Coe's artistic development. As Coe developed as an sculptor, his pieces were characterized as architectural in nature with an affinity for simplicity of form. His works consisted mostly of commissioned works for permanent institutions, including the Battalion Memorial at Guadalcanal, the bronze Dick Dowling at Sabine Pass, TX, and the granite frieze on the cenotaph erected in memory of the children and teachers who perished in a school explosion at New London, TX. He is also the creator of "The Texan" in Vicksburg National Military Park. Several Houston, TX, buildings are adorned with Coe sculptures, including Houston City Hall, Rice University Library, St. Mary's Seminary Chapel, St. Placidus Home for the Aged, First Presbyterian Church, the entrance to Hermann Park Zoo. Numerous other buildings, libraries, courthouses, offices, gardens and residences also boast of Coe works. Apparently, he was not as active as a medalist and his only known medal is the 75th issue of the Society of Medalists series.
For the overwhelming majority of his life, Coe remained in the Beaumont area of Texas, dying in 1999. His works have been featured at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C.
Sourced from the sources listed in the Resources tab. Special thanks to Sarah Wells from the Clifton Steamboat Museum who was extremely helpful.