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24 April 2014 | by Laura Gascoigne

 
In January 1941, when Henri Matisse survived a colostomy operation and two pulmonary embolisms, the nuns who had nursed him nicknamed him “le ressuscité”. At 72, he knew he was living on borrowed time. “It’s like being given a second life,” he told his son Pierre, “which unfortunately can’t be a long one.”Matisse had asked his doctors for three to four years to finish his life’s work, but providence was more generous and granted him 13. Despite almost constant stomach pain and failing eyesight, they would be the most inventive of his career. Increasingly confined to a wheelchair or bed, where one assistant described him propped up on pillows “like God the Father emerging from whipped-cream stucco clouds”, he gave up




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