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Henri Matisse Gallery     Prints.     Full biography.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Matisse was the leader of the Fauvist (meaning Wild Beasts) Movement, a painting style which focused on pure colors used in an aggressive and direct manner. His style changed many times over the years, but he never gave up his art. Matisse continued creating even into his 80's, when cancer had taken over his body. This was the time when he created the papercuttings that he is perhaps best known for. Matisse understood perfectly the relationship between color and shape, a talent which rightfully earned him the name "Master of Color."
Bathers by a River
Italian Woman
Promenade among the Olives
Butterfly Net
Abduction of Europa


L'Enlevement d'Europe
[The abduction of Europa] 1929  
oil on canvas
101.3 (h) x 153.3 (w) cm  
not signed, not dated, estate stamp, l.r. "HM", placed on the painting by Marguerite G. Duthuit in 1962
Purchased 1980
National Gallery of Austrailia 1980.2269  
Discussion of the work
Matisse began preparations for this painting in Nice in the winter and spring of 1926 and 1927 by first making a full-scale cartoon (private collection, Turin),1 perhaps the first such cartoon made since that for Le luxe 1 1907 (Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris).2 It was probably the largest painting he had attempted since Le thé 1919 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bequest of David L. Loew in Memory of his Father, Marcus Loew) and its size and unusual mythological subject-matter reflect a decisive move away from the intimate, naturalistic interiors that had characterised his paintings in the intervening years.3 In its arcadian mood, its spare, simplified composition and its combination of outline drawing and thinly washed colour, The abduction of Europa harks back to Matisse's earlier works, such as Le luxe 1 from the period around 1906-10.
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