Matisse the Master by Hilary Spurling - review by John McEwen

John McEwen

The Open Window

Matisse the Master


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As Hilary Spurling writes in the second and concluding volume of her already acclaimed life of the great French painter, ‘It is not the least mysterious thing about Henri Matisse that he has had no biography until now, fifty years after his death.’ One reason is that his life was considered too dull to bother about.

Spurling has written ‘a biography; not a work of art history’, though where the line is to be drawn is one of the fascinations of this compelling book, which justifies Matisse’s own opinion that if ‘his story were ever to be written down truthfully from start to finish … it

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