Born Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse on December 31, 1869, in Le Cateau, France to an affluent grain merchant, Henri Matisse originally studied Law at his father’s insistence. While he did become certified and practice in the courts, by the age of 21, he began painting while in recovery from appendicitis and that officially marked the beginning of his career as an artist. Matisse then moved to Paris and studied under William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Gustave Moreau at the Académie Julian as well as taking classes at École des Beaux-Arts.
Matisse’s breakthrough came on a trip to Saint-Tropez in 1904-1905 following his first solo exhibition at the Gallery of Ambroise Vollard in Paris. His paintings took on a brighter form known as Fauvism, of which Open Window and Woman with a Hat brought him much acclaim at the 1905 Salon d’Automne exhibition in Paris. Due to his success, he was able to travel throughout Europe and set up a studio in Paris. Henri Matisse was also able to teach classes which were known as Académie Matisse from 1907 to 1911 to students with the backing of many friends in the art community. By 1909, Matisse’s was receiving commissions and his work was being purchased by prominent collectors such as Gertrude Stein. During this period, he experimented with Cubism like rival artist Picasso, but he continued to paint traditional themes of landscapes and portraits. In 1920 the first book was published regarding his work signifying his place in art history.
In 1941, Henri Matisse became hospitalized and following a colostomy he began working from a bed in his studio. He continued to experiment with different art forms including collages and illustrations. One of his last projects was for the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence (1948-51), where he designed stained-glass windows, murals, furnishings, and sacred vestments for the church’s priests. Henri Matisse died on November 3, 1954, at the age of 84, in Nice, France.