Maurice Denis was born in 1870, in a coastal town of the Normandy, France. He studied art both the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian. Against the naturalism of Impressionism, Denis instead admired to work and style of Paul Gauguin. Along with class mates, Paul Sérusier, Édouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, and Ker Xavier Roussel, they formed an influential but short lived artist group called Nabis. Maurice Denise was 19 years old at this time.
He painted in light and color and is known for his flat painting planes and simplified forms. Maurice Denis was against much of modern painting of the time and once said “It should be remembered that a picture—before being a warhorse, a nude, or an anecdote of some sort—is essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order.”
Maurice Denis was a deeply religious man and many of subjects feature religious iconography and symbolism. He wrote extensively on the theory of art and about sacred art. He died in Paris in 1943 after an automobile accident.