“Fauve” means, literally, “wild animal”.

“Movement in French painting from c. 1898 to 1906 characterized by a violence of colours, often applied unmixed from commercially produced tubes of paint in broad flat areas, by a spontaneity and even roughness of execution and by a bold sense of surface design. […] Fauvism was not a school with a precise theoretical programme, and its principles were set down only after the event, for example in Matisse’s ‘Notes d’un peintre’ (La Grande Revue, 25 Dec 1908). It did, however, crystallize around Matisse, recognized as the leader of a new movement.” The Grove Dictionary of Art.

Here is a well-known fauve painting by Matisse, sometimes known as ‘Woman with a green stripe’ because of the unconventional colour applied to her face. The subject is Matisse’s wife.

          “Madame Matisse” (1905)
Statens Museum für Kunst, Copenhagen  

For more on Fauvism, see:



Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Matisse in the chapel, in Vence (1950)

“French painter, draughtsman, sculptor, printmaker, designer and writer. He came to art comparatively late in life and made his reputation as the principal protagonist of Fauvism, the first avant-garde movement at the turn of the century. He went on to develop a monumental decorative art, which was innovative both in its treatment of the human figure and in the constructive and expressive role accorded to colour. His long career culminated in a highly original series of works made of paper cut-outs, which confirmed his reputation, with Picasso, as one of the major artists of the 20th century.” The Grove Dictionary of Art.

The following paintings have links with other aspects of this course.

Here is another interpretation of Notre-Dame of Paris:

«Notre-Dame» (1902)

Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y.


The title of this poem comes from the refrain of Baudelaire’s “Invitation to a Voyage”

«Luxe, calme et volupté» (1904-1905)
Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris



Here is the first of a series of works celebrating dance.

«Dance» (First Version)(1909)

Museum of Modern Art, New York

And here are both sides of a 1998 invitation / advertisement which parodies this work.


«Consumers Gas…150 years»

Consumer’s Gas invitation


For numerous other examples of Matisse’s work, see: