What inspired Matisse to paint?

A new exhibition at the Royal Academy, London gives a first-hand look at some of the inanimate objects that the great French artist Henri Matisse collected and that played a fundamental role in his works of art.

Some of the objects displayed were his two silver chocolate pots and a beautiful wooden 19th century Venetian chair, which it turns out Matisse was obsessed with when he first spotted it in an antiques store. Thereafter he painted the chair in various formats. Also shown were some of his African works he collected from where he drew his inspiration in painting his innovative nudes.

Most famously known for his blue and white cut-out pieces, Matisse started out as a lawyer but whilst suffering a long illness early on in his life and to alleviate his boredom, his mother gave him a paint brush and some paint – and thus his passion was born. He was greatly influenced by Paul Cezanne, another magnificent French artist, and became part of the Fuaves movement (wild beasts). However, Picasso and Matisse both disliked each other’s work but this only challenged the pair and created a stimulus of creativity amongst them. Despite their competitive relationship, they had admiration and respect for one another, with Matisse once describing their relationship as a boxing match!

Later in life when Matisse could no longer stand and was wheelchair-bound, his “painting with scissors” technique was created – works using a pair of scissors and paper, and to date these are hugely synonymous with Matisse.

(Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD; On till November 12, 2017)

By Diane Bilimoria, London

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