• Henri Matisse started off life as a lawyer. He began painting at the age of 21 while recuperating from acute appendicitis.
• Matisse was frenemies with Pablo Picasso. In the beginning they did not like each other’s work. However, they both recognised the power they had to challenge and stimulate creativity within one another. They would often produce work on the same subjects, and even some with the same titles.
• Matisse had a lifelong interest in African art. In 1911 he visited Morocco, where he set up a studio in Tangier. He introduced Picasso to African art in 1907.
• When Matisse was confined to a wheelchair during his later years, he developed a technique he called "painting with scissors". Since he could no longer stand for extended periods, he began creating works using a pair of scissors and paper. He used a long stick to assemble them on his walls until he was happy with the arrangement.
• Matisse loved jazz, saying: "Jazz is rhythm and meaning." In 1947 he published a limited-edition artist’s book containing prints of colourful cut paper collages accompanied by his written thoughts, and called it Jazz.
• The biggest single collection of Matisse’s work, consisting of more than 500 paintings, is in the Baltimore Museum of Art in the US, and is the bequest of sisters Claribel and Etta Cone, who spent the early part of the 20th century collecting works directly from Matisse, Picasso and their contemporaries in Paris.
• Many of Matisse’s most significant paintings, including La Danse, were collected by the Russian collector Sergei Shchukin in the early 20th century. This collection is now split between the Hermitage Museum and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art.
Source: Standard Bank Gallery