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French painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer. From 1920 he enjoyed an international reputation, as did Picasso, the foremost painter of his time, and Matisse was the supreme master in the trends of 20th century art which are represented by calligraphic pattern and the abstract use of pure colour. In 1891 he abandoned a legal career for painting, studying under Bouguereau and Moreau, with whom he remained until 1896. During these years he painted still lifes and landscapes in a sober range of colours reminiscent of Corot, but in the summer of 1896, painting in Brittany, he began to adopt the lighter palette of the Impressionists.

In 1899 Matisse began experimenting with the Neo-Impressionist technique, which was applied in one of his first major works the celebrated Luxe, calme et volupte (Musee d'Orsay, Paris). This work was exhibited at the Salon des Independants in 1905, and bought by Signac. During the same years he had been painting with Marquet, had met Derain and through him Vlaminck, and in 1905 together with these and other friends from Moreau's studio, Matisse created the sensational exhibition at the Salon d'Automne, which gave birth to the name Fauves.

Matisse's first patrons included the American writer Gertrude Stein and the Russian merchant Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin (1854-1936) Unlike many of his great contemporaries, Matisse did not attempt to express in his work the troubled times through which he lived. "What I dream of," he wrote, "is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or disturbing subject a comforting influence, a mental balm---something like a good armchair in which one rests from physical fatigue."