Woman Reading, 1894, the Cone collection of the Museum of Modern Art, Paris
Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse (31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.
Although he was initially labelled a Fauve (wild beast), by the 1920s he was increasingly hailed as an upholder of the classical tradition in French painting. His mastery of the expressive language of colour and drawing, displayed in a body of work spanning over a half-century, won him recognition as a leading figure in modern art.
In 1891, he went to Paris to study art at the Académie Julian and became a student of William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Gustave Moreau. Initially he painted still-lifes and landscapes in a traditional style, at which he achieved reasonable proficiency.
In 1896 and 1897, Matisse visited the Australian painter John Peter Russell on the island Belle Île off the coast of Brittany. Russell introduced him to Impressionism and to the work of van Gogh, who had been a friend of Russell but was completely unknown at the time. Matisse's style changed completely, and he would later say "Russell was my teacher, and Russell explained colour theory to me." [pic]Blue Pot and Lemon, 1897, 39 x 46.5 cm, State Hermitage Museum
Many of Matisse's paintings from 1898 to 1901 make use of a Divisionist technique he adopted after reading Paul Signac's essay, "D'Eugène Delacroix au Néo-impressionisme". [pic]
Dishes and Fruit, 1901, 51 x 61.5 cm, State Hermitage Museum
In 1904,he painted the most important of his works in the...