Henri Matisse
(1869 – 1954)
Henri Émile Benoît Matisse
Henri Matisse was born on
December 31, 1869 in Nord,
France. In 1887 he went to
Paris and studied to become a
lawyer. He first started to paint
in 1889 when his mother gave
him paints to keep him busy
while he was recovering from
appendicitis. He decided that
painting was “a kind of
paradise” and he quit being a
lawyer in favor of being an artist
(much to his fathers dismay).
He went to art school in
Paris, painting still lifes
and landscapes in
traditional style. In
1897, he visited a friend
in Brittany who
introduced him to
Impressionism and the
work of Vincent
VanGogh (who was
unknown then).
Matisse’s style changed
completely after seeing
what they were
doing.The paintings of
this period used flat
shapes and controlled
Luxembourg Gardens (1901)
In 1905, Matisse joined a
group of artists who
exhibited paintings which
expressed emotion with wild
unnatural colors. An art critic
dubbed these painters the
“Fauves” which meant wild
beasts. The paintings were
criticized harshly, and for a
while, it was hard for
Matisse to make a living as
a painter.
Woman with a Hat
Matisse joined a
community of artists
in Montparnasse
(Paris) even though
he didn’t fit in
perfectly with his
serious work habits
and conservative
Vase, Bottle and Fruit (1906)
In 1904 he met Pablo Picasso and the
two became life-long friends as well as
rivals. Both artists liked to paint still
lives and women. One important
difference between the two is that
painted from nature, while
Picasso painted
what he imagined.
Portrait of Madame
Matisse (1905)
Self Portrait (1906)
The Red Room (Harmony in Red)
Odalisque in Red Trousers (1924)
La Chute d’Icare (Icarus)
La Tristesse du Roi (1952)
“The Sorrows of the King”
In 1939 he separated from his wife of 39
years. He had surgery and afterward used a
wheelchair. He started making collages
from cut paper, which he called “Painting
with scissors”. He died in November 1954
and is buried, with his wife, in Cimiez,
France (near Nice).

Matisse PowerPoint - Field School Art Discovery