15 Facts About Henri Matisse: All You Should Know

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Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse was a French artist, who is always brought to platform with Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp for his contribution in plastic arts in the early twentieth-century. He is also considered as a leading figure in Modern Art for his ways of expressing language of color and drawing, displayed in a body of work. Know more about your favorite painter, his journey from being a supporter of French classical-traditional paintings to being labeled as a “Fauve” (wild beasts).

1. Henri Matisse was born on 31 December 1869 in Le Cateau-Cambrésis, a commune in the Nord department of Northern France.

2. He acquired his education from Académie Julian, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Gustave Moreau.

3. Primarily known as a painter, he was a draughtsman, printmaker and a sculptor, who originally started painting sometime later after he turned twenty. He was multitasked, having skills in different artistic mediums: from pencils to watercolors and oils, from sculpture to architecture.

4. He wanted to become a lawyer, and also passed his bar examination. However, later at the age of 21, when down with appendicitis and having nothing to do, he discovered the painter within himself.

5. The credit goes to Henri’s mother who gave him a paint box to ease his boredom during his recovery, and the rest is history. He started going for drawing classes every morning before going to work and also was continually painting in between his working hours and throughout the night.

6. His paintings, in the beginning, focused on landscapes and still-life, following a traditional pattern. However, after meeting the Australian artist, John Peter Russell, Matisse’s approach changed. His works then were more influenced by the Impressionist movement.

7. He then joined “les Fauves”, better known as “Fauves”, a loose group of the early twentieth-century which followed a style termed as Fauvism, incorporating modern artists whose works highlighted values retained by Impressionism. His work was exhibited alongside Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy and Gustave Moreau.

8. One of his most popular paintings was “Woman with a Hat (Madame Matisse)”, painted in 1905. Others were A Glimpse of Notre-Dame in the Late Afternoon, 1902; Portrait of Madame Matisse (Green Stripe), 1905; The Young Sailor I, 1906; Algerian Woman, 1909; Conversation, 1912; Seated Riffian, 1913; The Italian Woman, 1916 and Self Portrait, 1918.

9. He was the first painter to create large scale cut paper collages, which he termed as “Painting with Scissors”.

10. In 1906, Matisse met Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, also known as Pablo Picasso, and became good friends. Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, ceramicist, sculptor, poet, printmaker, ceramicist and stage designer. They both were work-rivals at the same time too.
11. He was asked to design the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence. In respect, he also did the stained glass windows and furnishings, besides designing the murals. He also had a small Art School in Paris which he ran for about three years.
12. He published a book on September 30, 1947, named “Jazz”, containing prints of his colorful cut paper collages, accompanied by written thoughts. This was after his surgery which left him wheelchair bound.

13. He had a child with one of his models, a daughter named Marguerite. During WW II, she was a member of the French Resistance and was captured and sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, which she managed to escape.
14. Henri Matisse was also married with two sons. One of his sons, Pierre, opened a gallery in his honor, in New York, exhibiting many of his works along with the work of Joan Miro, Alberto Giacometti and Marc Chagall.
15. He died at the age of 84 out of a heart failure on 3 November 1954 in Nice, France.

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