Although today Matisse is considered one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, his first career was not as an artist. As a young man, Matisse studied law, graduated, and in 1889 returned home to work as a clerk in a law office. It was at this time that he had an acute attack of appendicitis, requiring surgery and a long convalescence. While in recovery, his mother gave him a paint box, and at the age of 21, Matisse discovered painting.
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