I have been trying to recall how Matisse was regarded by his English friends and confrères, particularly in the light of Jonathan Jones’s view in the Guardian that he had no right to be buying furniture in 1942, but should have been involved, as was Picasso, in political action. But the point about Matisse was that he was magnificently self-absorbed. According to Simon Bussy’s daughter Janie, her father recognised ‘that rare blend of virtuosity, daring and charm that was to make him famous, but he was never taken in by the extreme seriousness and reverence with which already in those early days Matisse was wont to regard Matisse’. Matisse arrived every day at the Bussy’s house in Nice sharp at 4.30 to eat pastries, scones and plum cake, but never thought to ask them back. Quentin Bell took the same view, that to meet Matisse was like meeting an insurance salesman and that, as the Bussys explained, he was ‘the greatest living painter, the greatest living egoist, and the greatest living bore’. It was not his life, but his art that one admires.