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Richard DormentAny number of artist's biographies follow a familiar trajectory from failure to triumph. What makes Spurling's life unusual is that she has uncovered a secret family history which goes a long way toward explaining the enigma of Matisse. . . Spurling brushes aside all our preconceptions about the painter to reveal a personality -- and a personal history -- none of us had guessed at. . . . This first volume of a full biography of Matisse is a triumph of research and writing, a work of literature worthy of its subject.
— The New York Review of Books