Manet, Edouard
French artist considered the first modern painter whose style greatly inspired the Impressionist movement.

Born in Paris on, Manet gained his real knowledge of art during visits to Italy, Germany and Holland. Those trips exposed Manet to the same masters who had so profoundly interpreted realism in the past: Hals, Velazquez and Goya.

Though Manet regarded himself as working in the tradition of the great masters, his approach was to rethink established themes in modern terms. His early notoriety was based on the subject matter of paintings such as 'Dejeuner sur l'herb', and 'Olympia' rather than their style.

Although he never regarded himself as an Impressionist and never exhibited with them, Manet strongly supported their choice of subject matter. Manet's refreshingly direct look at life and his spontaneous yet monumental translation of what he saw into paint earned him the position as their unofficial leader.

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Matisse, Henri
French painter whose colorful poster-like paintings rank him as the foremost decorative artist of his time.

Matisse studied art in Paris, where he became the leader of the Fauves, a group of artists whose style emphasized intense color and vigorous brushstrokes. In 1905, works by Matisse and other Fauve painters were exhibited together. The bold forms and bright colors of these paintings shocked the Paris art world.

Matisse's work reflects a number of influences: the decorative quality of Near Eastern art, the stylized forms of the sculpture of African art, the bright colors of the French impressionists, and the simplified forms of Cezanne.

During his life Matisse attempted to resolve two visions of nature. One vision is that of the artificial paradise-garden, such as the Alhambra in the south of Spain, with nature tamed and formalized to a high degree of comfort. The other was the natural paradise, exemplified for Matisse by Tahiti, where he had visited in the 1930s.

He is regarded as the most influential French painter of the 20th century who, with Picasso, dominated the art of his time.

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Millet, Jean Francois
French painter who painted figures of farmers and workers in dark muddy colors.

The son of a farmer Millet moved to Paris in 1837, and later to to Barbizon - in the forest of Fontainebleau. Devoted to this area as a subject for his work, he was one of those who helped establish the Barbizon School.

Millet was the first painter to endow rural life with a dignity and monumentality that transcend realism, making the peasant an almost heroic figure. He became somewhat of a symbol to younger artists and his work influenced Monet and Pissarro.

His subject matter - with its social implications - appealed to artists such as Seurat and van Gogh. Often accused of socialism because of his chosen subject, he was recognized as an important and original artist only after his death.

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