Henri Emile Benoît Matisse was born in the textile town of Le Cateau-Cambrésis (France) on the last night of the year, 31 December 1869. Henri Matisse wasn’t born to a rich family. His father was a grain merchant whose family were weavers.
Henri Matisse began to paint in 1889, when his mother had brought him art supplies during the period of recovery after appendix surgery. In 1891 Matisse returned to Paris to study art at the Académie Julian. Matisse began painting still-live and landscape paintings in the traditional Flemish style. Most of his early artworks tend to be gloomy as they employ a dark palette. Matisse’s drastic change of profession deeply disappointed his father.
Caroline Joblaud was Matisse’s early lover for four years. At the beginning of artist career when Matisse strived to affirm his artistic direction and professional career, he met Caroline Joblaud. She was his early lover who gave Matisse his first daughter Marguerite in 1894. The daughter was warmly accepted in new family after Matisse’s marriage to Amélie Noellie Parayre in January 1898. Matisse and his wife had had two sons, Jean and Pierre.
Influenced by the works of the post-Impressionists Paul Cézanne, Van Gogh, Paul Signac and Gauguin, and also by Japanese art, Matisse decided to make color a crucial element of his artworks. After years in poverty, Matisse went through his “dark period” (1902-03), and moved to naturalism. Soon after Matisse lost the desire to paint and decided to leave his artistic career. Fortunately, Matisse found an opportunity to earn some money painting a frieze for the World Fair at the Grand Palais in Paris.
Matisse’s first solo exhibition took place in 1904, but it wasn’t a successful one. Characterized by its spontaneity and roughness of execution as well as use of raw color straight from the palette to the canvas, Matisse was considered spearhead the Fauve movement in France. Matisse’s paintings of this period are: Woman with a Hat, The Open Window and the View of Collioure. From 1906 -1917 he lived in Paris. Many of his finest artworks were created during this period. In 1906, Matisse created a series of 12 lithographs, nudes. The same year these lithographs were exhibited at the Druet Gallery in Paris.
Unfortunately, Matisse works in the Fauve style were more admired by foreigners than by the French. It was the Russians and the Americans who bought significant collections of his early work almost as quickly as it was created. The paintings created by the talented artist Matisse we see in the Paris museums today were mostly acquired after the artist’s death.
In 1911, Matisse’s friends organized and financed the Académie Matisse in Paris, in which Matisse instructed young artists. This private and non-commercial school became one of the principal crossroads of modern painting for a number of European and American artists.
The Matisse’s art of the next period was profoundly influenced by Easter art. He travelled to Morocco and created there many of his masterpieces.
In 1917, Matisse moved to Nice to distance himself from wartime activity. The principal subject of his paintings of this period remained the female figure. In 1929, Matisse traveled to America to sit on the jury of the 29th Carnegie International. In 1930, he travelled to Tahiti and New York, also he spent some time in Maryland, Baltimore, and Merion, Pennsylvania. Americans were prominent among Matisse’s patrons throughout his career. The foundational Matisse monograph was written during his lifetime by Alfred Barr.
Matisse and his wife were divorced in 1939. During the mid-1930s, he created distinctive series of pen-and-ink drawings. He made hundreds of drawings, original prints and illustrated books. In 1941 Matisse was diagnosed with cancer and, following surgery, he started using a wheelchair. Matisse died of a heart attack at the age of eighty-four, on November 3, 1954.