After studying and practicing law in Paris, Henri Matisse (Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France, 1869 – Nice, 1954) attended classes at theÉcole des Beaux-Arts de Paris [Paris School of Fine Arts], studying under Gustave Moreau. During his first period he sought inspiration from the Postimpressionist style of artists such as Paul Signac, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh. He was interested in their use of powerful colors liberated from any descriptive functions. In 1905 his painting Woman with a Hat was exhibited at the Salon d’Automne [Autumn Salon]. This particular exhibition aroused some controversy: critic Louis Vauxcelles called it a “cage aux fauves” (cage of wild beasts), thus coining the name of a new movement, Fauvism.
In 1908 Alfred Stieglitz organized Henri Matisse’s first exhibition in the United States at his 291 Gallery. That same year Matisse recorded his artistic beliefs in Notes d’un peintre [Notes of a Painter]. After World War I his style became more sensual and ornamental. In 1941 a surgical intervention forced him to take bed rest, which allowed him to develop a new technique: he began to work with colored paper cutouts that he composed with the help of his assistant. In 1952 the Musée Matisse in Le Cateau-Cambrésis opened thanks to a generous donation by the artist.