Henri Mattise in Fauvism

Top 4 Facts about Henri Mattise.
  • Henri Matisse was born in 1896 in France. He is famous for his very colourful paintings.  🇫🇷
  • His mother encouraged him not to follow the normal rules of art, but to try out new things and to paint his emotions. 
  • Matisse described art as “a kind of paradise.” ☀️
  • He was one of the artists who started the Fauvism art movement.

What is Fauvism?


Coming from the French word ‘Fauve’ meaning ‘wild animals’, Fauvism was an art movement led by artists Henri Matisse and André Derain.

The Fauvists were interested in colour and which colours should sit next to each other on a canvas. You can read more about Fauvism here 

©Henri Mattise

The Plum Blossoms, 1948

Museum of Modern Art, NYC


©Henri Mattise

Les toits de Collioure, 1905

The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia


What is His Work Like?


Matisse is best known as a painter. However, he also was a printmaker and a sculptor.

He was inspired by landscapes, portraits and still life! 🎨


Matisse focused on the colours of what he was painting. The colours are often exaggerated because he enjoyed painting colour more than detail!


Matisse sometimes used a thin amount of paint and sometimes he would use really thick paint onto a canvas to be more expressive! 🖌


He used the colours to express emotion often using colours that had nothing to do with the natural colours of the subject. 


When Matisse was older, he became ill. So he spent quite a lot of time in the hospital. He  struggled to draw, so instead he cut out shapes with scissors and colourful paper in his hospital bed! ✂️


In the last few years, his paper cut outs have travelled around the world and been displayed at famous museums. 🏫


Here is a quote from Matisse about how using scissors to cut out paper makes him feel: “Cutting directly into colour reminds me of a sculptor’s carving into stone.

André Derain, 1905


© Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2020


Henri Matisse

The Sheaf 1953

Collection University of California, Los Angeles. Hammer Museum

© Succession Henri Matisse / DACS 2013


©Henri Mattise

Luxembourg Gardens, 1901

Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia

Famous Artworks


One of this most famous artworks is “The Snail.” It is a VERY big collage work. It is almost 3 metres x 3 metres! The Snail is a paper collage. Matisse cut out HUGE pieces of colourful paper and stuck them onto the canvas. 🐌


When you first look at it, you might just see colourful squares but if you keep looking, you will see it is shaped in a circle like the shall of the snail.


Another famous artwork is his painting One of Matisse’s 1905 painting Woman with a Hat. It is very colourful and uses unrealistic colours for the woman, but it is so expressive and joyful that it is very well known. 🎨

Henri Matisse

The Snail 1953 


© Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2020


©Henri Mattise

Woman with a Hat, 1905.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Your go!


Do you like Henri Matisse’s artwork?


Why not try being inspired by his work? Maybe you could try finding an object to draw at home and really exaggerate the colours. You could use colouring pencils, watercolours or paints! 🖍️


If you do try out some colourful artwork inspired by Mattise, we would love to see it! Send your photos to admin@art-k.co.uk


What next?


Do you want to know what comes before Fauvism? Click here to read about Impressionism?



And click here for a book about Henri Mattise’s Paper Cut Outs!