Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse (December
31, 1869 - November 3, 1954) was a noted French artist, working
in a number of modes, but principally as a painter he is considered
one of the most significant artists of the early 20th century.
He was born in Le Cateau, Picardy and grew up in Bohain-en-Vermandois.
In 1887 he went to Paris to study law. After gaining his qualification
he worked as a court administrator in Cateau Cambresis. But
following an attack of appendicitis during his convalescence
he took up painting. On his recovery he returned to Paris
in 1891 to study art at the Académie Julian and became
a student of Odilon Redon and Gustave Moreau. Influenced by
the works of Edouard Manet, Paul Signac and Paul Cézanne
he painted in the Fauvist manner, becoming known as a leader
of that movement.
His first exhibition was in 1901 and his
first solo exhibition in 1904. His fondess for bright and
expressive colour became more pronounced after he moved southwards
in 1905 to work with André Derain and spent time on
the French Riviera, his paintings marked by having the colours
keyed up into a blaze of intense shades and characterized
by flat shapes and controlled lines, with expression dominant
over detail. The decline of the Fauvist movement after 1906
did nothing to affect the rise of Matisse; he had moved beyond
them and many of his finest works were created between 1906
In 1921 Matisse settled in Nice and continued
to work in a more luxuious environment with less attention
and a more 'decorative' style. In 1941 Matisse was diagnosed
with cancer and following surgery he soon needed a wheelchair;
this did not stop his work however. But as increased weakness
made a easel impossible he created papercut collages called
papiers découpés, often of some size, which
still demonstrated his eye for colour and geometry.
in Nice. Unlike many artists he had international fame and
popularity during his lifetime. Right from his early shows
in Paris he attracted collectors and critics.
His works include
Notre-Dame, une fin d'après-midi (1902), Green Stripe
(1905), The Open Window (1905), Le bonheur de vivre (1906),
Madras Rouge (1907), The Conversation (1909), Dance (1910),
L'Atelier Rose (1911), Zorah on the Terrace (1912), Le Rifain
assis (1912), La lecon de musique (1917), The Painter and
His Model (1917), Interior At Nice (1920), Odalisque with
Raised Arms (1923), Yellow Odalisque (1926), Robe violette
et Anemones (1937), Le Reve de 1940 (1940), Deux fillettes,
fond jaune et rouge (1947), Jazz (1947), Chapelle du Saint-Marie
du Rosaire (1948, completed in 1951), Beasts of the Sea (1950),
and L'Escargot (1953).