Bonheur_Matisse Le bonheur de vivre, 1906 Oil on canvas, in the collection of the Barnes Foundation.

Le bonheur de vivre (The Joy of Life) is one of the paintings which gave birth to modernism. It is thought that Picasso, having seen this work by Matisse, went on to work on Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, 1907, in order to create as much shock in the art world as Matisse did with this painting.

Le bonheur de vivre has a substantial amount of cadmium sulfide-based yellow which means that sections of the painting are discolouring and turning white and brown, despite efforts to conserve the work.

woman-with-hat-1905 Femme au chapeau (Woman with a Hat), 1905
Image via SF MoMA

Woman with a Hat (La femme au chapeau) 1905, shocked Matisse's contemporaries as never before had they seen a portrait in which colour appeared to be so roughly used to capture the face. Gertrude Stein purchased it, foreseeing it would be an important work of modernism.

bathers0-1 Bathers by a River, 1917
Image via Arctic.edu

Bathers by a River, 1917, was regarded by Matisse as one of the most important works of his career. It was commissioned by his Russian patron, Sergei Shchuckin and took him over 8 years to complete. Although Matisse rejected cubism, there are references to the art form in this work.

large-seated-nude-final Large Seated Nude (1922-1929)
Image via Philadelphia Museum of Art

Matisse made more than 80 sculptures during his career, predominately from bronze. Large Seated Nude (1922-1929) depicts his model Henriette Darricarrère and is one of the largest freestanding sculptures by Matisse which took a decade to make.

blue-nude-1952 Blue Nude II, 1952

The Blue Nudes were a series of cut-outs which Matisse completed in 1952, they are among his last works. The nudes in the cut-outs are an evolution of the figures in Le bonheur de vivre, 1906.

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