Matisse in New York, 1930
He says the turning point in his career was the day he put his foot through a canvas instead of selling it for the four hundred francs he knew he could get, to feed the three children he knew he had. After that experience he took more pains with his work and never sent out a canvas that did not entirely please him. Lay people call him “sloppy,” but one picture of his shown recently in the Valentine Gallery was the result of some twelve hundred preliminary sketches. A picture of his now would cost you about sixteen thousand dollars [$230,000 in 2016] if you could buy it, which you can’t, because he likes to have his pictures around. He is now the acknowledged leader of the French moderns, credited by artists generally as having the best color eye that has glanced at life these many, many years.
Matisse is on his way to the South Seas. He may paint a bit in California and elsewhere on the way. When put on the train for Chicago his friends explained to the porter that he could speak no English. Matisse said he would make out all right, that whenever he got into language difficulties anywhere he would take out his sketch pad and begin drawing. In a very few minutes some woman was certain to come up and speak to him in French.
- Murdock Pemberton and E.B. White