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Henri Matisse

1869 - 1954

Matisse was born at Cateau-Cambrésis (Nord) and initially trained in law. He began painting in about 1890 and studied first with Bouguereau at the Académie Julian and then with Gustave Moreau at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (1892-7). Influenced mainly by Cézanne, Gauguin and Renoir, Matisse developed with associates like Derain a bold simplified style. When they exhibited their work at the 1905 Salon d'Automne, Matisse and his friends were described by a critic as 'fauves' (wild beasts), a term which inspired the label fauvism.

The most ambitious of Matisse's early paintings were those commissioned by his Russian admirers, Shchukin and Morosov, now in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Hermitage, St Petersburg. While maintaining a studio in Paris, Matisse travelled extensively, living in Spain, Tangier and Morocco. He visited America in 1931 where he was commissioned to paint murals for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

From 1922 he worked regularly in Paris and Nice (where he died), producing prints and book illustrations, sculpture and the paper cut-outs, which are among the best known of his later works.