"If my story were ever to be written truthfully from start to finish, it would amaze everyone." Henri Matisse I was born at eight o'clock in the evening on the last night of the year, 31 December 1869. I was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. I was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. My sources were French medieval poetry. Although I was initially labelled a Fauve (wild beast), by the 1920s I was increasingly hailed as an upholder of the classical tradition in French painting. My mastery of the expressive language of colour and drawing, displayed in a body of work spanning over a half-century, I won recognition as a leading figure in modern art.
I grew up in Bohain-en-Vermandois, Picardie, France, where my parents owned a flower business; I was their first son. My father, Émile Hippolyte Matisse, was a grain merchant whose family were weavers. My mother, Anna Heloise Gerard, was a daughter of a long line of well-to-do tanners. I got my color sense from her, who was herself an accomplished painter on porcelain, a fashionable art form at the time In 1887 I went to Paris to study law, working as a court administrator in Le Cateau-Cambrésis after gaining my qualification. I first started to paint in 1889, after my mother brought me art supplies during a period of convalescence following an attack of appendicitis. From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves. I discovered "a kind of paradise" and I decided to become an artist, deeply disappointing my father. In 1891, I returned to Paris to study art at the Académie Julian succeeding in 1896 to exhibit my first five paintings in the salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, two of which were purchased by the state. I had met the model Caroline Joblau, who was...
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