Many people have heard about Matisse’s name and/or seen his paintings but don’t really know much about who he really was. If you’d like to know more about this talented 20th century painter, read the following interesting facts about Henri Matisse.
1. He Was a Lawyer.
Matisse, whose full name was Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse, studied in a law school in Paris. After his graduation, he passed the bar and began working in a law office.
2. He Discovered Painting While Recovering From Surgery.
When he was 21 years old, Matisse develop acute appendicitis and had to go through surgery to remove his appendix. His appendectomy required a long recovery time and his mother, seeing that he was bored with nothing to do, gave him a paint box so he’d have something to pass the time. This led Matisse to discover his talent for art.
After he recovered, Matisse went back to working as a law clerk but continued to paint. He attended drawing classes in the morning before going to work, painted during lunch time, and kept on painting when he went home at night.
3. His Style Was Influenced By His Friends And His Favorite Painters.
When he first started out, Matisse focused on painting traditional still-lifes and landscapes. In 1897, he met John Peter Russell, an Australian artist who showed him the works of Van Gogh and introduced him to the concept of Impressionism. This made a huge impact on Matisse, and he started to create artworks that were inspired by the Impressionist Movement. He also discovered the works of French artist Paul Cezanne and became influenced by his style.
4. He Was One Of The Founders Of Fauvism.
Matisse adopted a new style of painting at the turn of the century, and his works began to feature bright, vivid colors that didn’t resemble the original colors of his subjects. This style wasn’t singular to Matisse since other artists, like Andre Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, developed it as well. They were called “fauves” (or “wild beasts” in English) because of their rebellious approach to art, and this led to their art style being called “Fauvism.”
5. He Had a Complicated Relationship With Picasso.
Some experts say that Matisse and Picasso didn’t consider each other as enemies but also weren’t friends. Others noted that they were best friends but were rivals at the same time. It is said that they hated each other’s works at first but, later on, they developed a kind of mutual respect that allowed them to appreciate the skill and talent of the other.
Many people have noticed that Matisse and Picasso seemed to be on the same wavelength since they had works that had the same title and even the same subject! In fact, someone organized an exhibition that focused on comparing the similarities in their work. The exhibition was shown at The Tate Modern in London.
It’s worth noting that Matisse and Picasso reportedly gave each other artworks as gifts — artworks that neither liked. Matisse gave away a portrait of his daughter Marguerite, while Picasso gifted Matisse with a painting that featured a pitcher, a bowl, and a lemon.
Matisse is one of the leaders of modern art, and his work continues to inspire both professional and aspiring artists around the world.