Henri Matisse was traditionally trained at the Académie Julian (1891) and the École des Beaux-Arts (1892) in Paris. Considered the forefather of modern art, throughout his career Matisse would experiment with a wide variety of artistic mediums, including painting, sculpture, paper cut-outs, lithographs and etchings, as well as costume and set design for the ballet. All were united in what he referred to as the “art of balance, of purity, of serenity” and the search for “apparent simplicity”.
La Petite Île, from Poésies Antillaises is an example of Matisse’s minimalist approach to figuration, the confident fluid lines of his draughtsmanship the result of intense study. In his essay “Notes of a Painter on his Drawing”, published in Le Point in 1939, Matisse said, “My line drawing is the purest and most direct translation of my emotion. The simplification of the medium allows that. At the same time, these drawings are more complete than they may appear to some people who confuse them with a sketch.”