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Musée Matisse
Le Cateau-Cambresis

Matisse Museum, Le Cateau
Henri Matisse: "Femme à l` gandoura bleu" 1951

Established by Matisse in his lifetime
Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was born in Le Cateau, a town of textile mills that supplied fine cloth to the Paris fashion trade. He spent most of his adult life in Paris and Nice in the south of France.

In 1952 just before his death he helped set up an exhibition in Le Cateau Town Hall, and gave the town a collection of his drawings, scuptures, and paintings - as well as photographs and other documents.

Unique collection
This is the only gallery collection selected by Matisse himself - and the only museum dedicated to any artist where they conceived the presentation of their own works.

As the collection grew, it was moved from the Town Hall to an old 18th century building - the former palace of the Aechbishops of Cambrai, which has now been imaginatively extended.

Extended museum opened 2002

18th century palace of Archbishop Fenelon, who mainly lived in

Some highlights of a visit

Lesquielles 1903

The collection has been enhanced by further additions by the Matisse family, and by later purchases. It now includes 28 paintings and paper cut-outs; 21 sculptures; 109 sketches and prints

Matisse painted some rather gloomy local landscapes (see left) when he returned to the area in a period of self-doubt after his time in Paris as an art student.

In the summer of 1904, he travelled south - and soon settled into spending part of the year in Nice and part in Paris, also travelling to North Africa.

Matisse - Marguerite in feather hat. 1914  Matisse self-portrait 1918  Matisse: "Océanie"
1. His daughter, Marguerite1914 -- 2. Self-portrait 1918 -- 3. "Océanie" - paper cut-out on canvas (detail) 1946
Matisse "Pink nude, red interior"
"Pink nude, red interior" 1947

A trip to Tahiti later inspired "Océanie" (above) - a paper cut-out of sea-life originally intended as a design for a tapestry. Excited by shapimg and arranging his "jelly-fish". Matisse developed this expressive medium in old age, when he was an invalid and found painting difficult.

Matisse painted many nude potraits (left), of models arrnged in his studio in a setting of colourful patterned cloth and other props from a collection amassed over his lifetime.

Other artists
The Museum also includes work by two other modern artists: 65 works by August Herbin (1882-1960) who worked in Le Cateau; and 11 byhis pupil, Geneviève Claisse.; and a display of influential art magazines, books and prints from the publications of Tériade, an editor-poet who worked withma; also photos by Henri Cartier Bresson.

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"Matisse for Kids" - an on-line interactive introduction to his art

The site introduces you to how Matisse worked

Find out more
Many of Matisse's paintings were bought by American collectors - he joked that, as they became valuable, many mote were attributed to him than he ever painted!.

Tthe Baltimore Museum has a fine collection, and an interesting website, on which you can spot which prop appears in both "Interior With Dog" (1934) and another painting in their collection.

On other pages, you can look for patterns, and found out how Matisse represented real objects and people.

Matisse's birthplace town
What there is to see when you visit Le Cateau:
(video commentary is in French)

Matisse: basic biographical details as well as links to museums that house his work:

Background information
Modern Art
Regional Art Galleries
- and Art MENU

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Location: Musée Matisse, Palais Fénelon, Place Commandant-Richez, 59360 LE CATEAU
Exit 4 from Autoroute A2 at Cambrai,, then RN 43 to Le Cateau Cambresis (22km)
Hours (check before visiting):
Open daily except Tuesday

Sept - May: 10.00 -12.30 and 14.00 - 18.00
June - August : 10.00 - 18.00
CLOSED on 1 Jan , 1 Nov, 25 Dec, 22 Sept
(23 Sept if 22 Sept is a Sunday)

Information/ reservations:
Tel: 00 33 3 27 84 64 50 - Fax: 00 33 3 27 84 64 54
Group/school bookings
Tel: 00 33 3 27 84 64 64 - Fax: 00 33 3 27 84 64 65
gallery of Matisse photos:

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Betise de Cambrai © Copyright 2002-07 Last updated 31 July 2007 (22/5/99)