DETAIL : COLOGNE SCHOOL Germany Virgin and Child with Saints [Triptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints (left panel) Virgin and Child with Saints (left panel)]
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Henri MATISSE | L'Enlevement d'Europe [The abduction of Europa]
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France 1869 – 1954
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L'Enlevement d'Europe
[The abduction of Europa]
[Rape of Europa] 1929
oil on canvas
101.3 (h) x 153.3 (w) cm
frame 126.0 (h) x 178.0 (w) cm
not signed, not dated, estate stamp, l.r. "HM", placed on the painting by Marguerite G. Duthuit in 1962
Purchased 1980
NGA 1980.2269
© Henri Matisse. Licensed by Succession Matisse & VISCOPY, Australia
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Henri Matisse was born on 31 December 1869 at Le Château-Cambrésis, in Picardy, France. He moved to Paris in 1892 to study law, but he soon became a student of Adolphe-William Bouguereau at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Subsequently Matisse joined Gustave Moreau's atelier. In 1896 he exhibited for the first time, at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and two of his paintings were sold, one to the state. This early success was not repeated with his subsequent exhibits at the Salon de la Nationale in 1897 and 1899, and by 1900 Matisse was reduced to painting decorations in the Grand-Palais for the Exposition Universelle. In 1903 he exhibited two paintings at the Salon d'Automne and in June 1904 had his first solo exhibition at the Ambroise Vollard Gallery, Paris. In 1905 Matisse and his associates, notably André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, caused a sensation at the Salon d'Automne with their brilliantly coloured, raw-factured canvases which earned them the label 'Fauves' (wild beasts). Matisse, however, also attracted his first patrons, the Stein family, and soon after Claribel and Etta Cone of Baltimore. In 1908 Matisse opened his own painting school in Paris and exhibited abroad, at New Gallery in London, at '291' in New York, at the Golden Fleece Salon in Moscow, and at the Paul Cassirer Gallery in Berlin. In 1909 he signed his first contract with Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, and took a house at Issy-les-Molineaux. At the invitation of his patron, Sergei Shchukin, he visited Moscow in 1911 and at the end of the year left for a visit to Tangier. In 1917 Matisse spent his first winter in Nice and was subsequently to divide his year between the south and Paris, spending the winters in Nice and summers at Issy. He designed the décor and costumes for Les Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev's production Le Chant du rossignol (The song of the nightingale), which opened in Paris in 1920. In 1930-31 he travelled extensively - to Italy, Spain, Germany, England, the Soviet Union and Oceania, spending three months in Tahiti. On his way back to France he visited the United States where he received a commission from Dr Albert C. Barnes for mural decorations for the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. In 1937 he was commissioned by Les Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo to design scenery and costumes for the ballet Rouge et Noir (Red and black). A retrospective of thirty-seven of his paintings took place at the Salon d'Automne in1945. In 1947 Matisse published Jazz with his pochoir plates and text. Matisse's late work, from 1948 onwards, consisted mainly of cu-out gouaches and his designs for the Chapel of the rosary at Venice, which was completed in 1951. Two important exhibitions of his work were organised in 1951, one at the National Museum in Tokyo, the other at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, which was accompanied by the publication of Alfred H. Barr's book Matisse: His Art and His Public, which remains a standard monograph on the artist. Matisse died in Nice on 3 November 1954.

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