1896   
Born in Le Cateau- Cambrésis, near Nice, France.

1887   
Moves to Paris to study law.

1889   
Starts working as a court administrator in Le Cateau- Cambrésis, even if it finds the work tedious.
Begins to paint, after his mother brought him art supplies during a period of convalescence following an attack of appendicitis.

1891   
Returns to Paris to study art at the Académie Julian and attempt to enter the École des Beaux-Arts unsuccessfully.

1892   
Unofficially joins the studio of Gustave Moreau, who will be his teacher until 1898.

1894   
Daughter Marguerite is born, from model Caroline Joblau.

1895   
Gets accepted at the École des Beaux-Arts.

1898   
Marries Amélie Noellie Parayre.
On the advice of Pissarro, travels to London to study the paintings of J. M. Turner and then went on a trip to Corsica.

1899   
Son Jean is born.
Returns to Paris and starts working beside Albert Marquet and meets André Derain, Jean Puy, and Jules Flandrin.

1900   
Son Pierre is born.

1901   
Exhibits at the Salon Salon des Indépendants in Paris and meets another future leader of the Fauve movement, Maurice de Vlaminck.

1903   
Devotes much of his energy to working in clay, and completes The Slave

1904   
First solo exhibition Ambroise Vollard's gallery, without much success.
Spends the summer painting in St. Tropez with neo-Impressionists Signac and Henri Edmond Cross.
Paints Luxe, Calme et Volupté.
Meets Pablo Piccaso for the first time.

1905   
Travels southwards again to work with André Derain at Collioure.
Exhibits with a group of artists now known as “Fauves” in a room at the Salon d’Automn. He shows Open Window and Woman with Hat at the Salon, which was then bought by Gertrude and Leo Stein.
Meets Pablo Picasso for the first time at the studio of Gertrude Stein.

1907   
Guillaume Apollinaire comments about Matisse in an article published in La Falange: "We are not here in the presence of an extravagant or an extremist undertaking: Matisse's art is eminently reasonable."
The Académie Matisse in Paris opens its doors.

1909   
Russian art collector Sergei Shchukin commissions the artist two paintings, La Danse and La Music, completed in 1910.

1910   
After visiting a large exhibition of Islamic art in Munich, spends two months in Spain studying Moorish art.

1911   
The Académie Matisse closes.
Completes the painting Red Studio.

1913   
Nu bleu (1907) is burned in effigy at the Armory Show in Chicago.

1917   
Relocates to Cimiez on the French Riviera, a suburb of the city of Nice.

1920s
Collaborates actively with other artists (Frenchmen, Dutch, Germans and Spanish and recent American immigrants.

1932   
Large mural for the Barnes Foundation, commissioned by Albert C. Barnes, The Dance II, is completed.

1939   
Separates from his wife of 41 years.

1941   
Undergoes surgery, after which he starts using a wheelchair. Starts to be cared for by Lydia Delektorskaya, formerly one of his models.
Hires Jacques-Marie, as nurse and model.

1942   
Starts working on cut paper collages, often on a large scale, called gouches découpés, technique he called “painting with scissors”.

1947   
Jazz limited-edition book containing prints of colourful paper cut collages is published.

1948   
Starts working on the project of designing the interior, the glass windows and the decorations of the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence

1951   
The Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence is finished and consecrated.
A major retrospective of the artist’s work opens at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

1952   
The Musée Matisse in the artist’s birthplace Le Cateau–Cambrésis opens.

1954   
Dies of heart attack at the age of 84 in Nice.

1956   
The last work by the artist, the design for a stained-glass window, is installed at the Union Church of Pocantico Hills.