In 1894 Henri Manguin became a pupil in the studio of Gustave Moreau at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where fellow students included Marquet, Matisse, Jean Puy and Rouault. He exhibited for the first time in 1902 at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. He subsequently became an associate of the Salon d'Automne, to which he remained loyal until the end of his career. In 1905, his work Siesta was hung in the room famously derided as the Cage aux Fauves, and he discovered Provence and St-Tropez, where he stayed with Paul Signac: he bought a property called L'Oustalet in 1920 and later met Henri Edmond Cross there. In 1908 he worked in Paris at the Académie Ranson, where he again met up with Marquet and Francis Jourdain.
Ever in search of landscapes, which he painted during his travels, usually in watercolours, he led a somewhat nomadic life, travelling through most of France, although rarely venturing beyond its borders. In 1909 he was in Naples with Marquet, in 1910 Honfleur, in 1911 Sanary, in 1912-1914 Cassis, in 1915-1918 Lausanne, in 1920 St-Tropez and Honfleur, in 1923 Marseilles and Albi, in 1924 La Rochelle and Bordeaux, in 1925 Antwerp, Uzerche, Cahors and Avignon, in 1926 Toulon, in 1927 Castellane and Haute-Provence, in 1928 Gien, the Loire and Avignon, in 1931 Port Louis and La Trinité-sur-Mer, in 1933 Concarneau, in 1934 St-Servan, in 1937 St-Malo, in 1938 Dinard and St-Paul-de-Vence. In 1940, he distanced himself from the war and went to his studio in Avignon, where he returned to work each year. In 1949 he left Paris for good, moving to St-Tropez. In 1937, during the Exposition Internationale, he took part in an exhibition of the Maîtres de l'Art Independant at the Musée de Petit-Palais, showing eight paintings that represented his work: St-Tropez, Woman with a Bunch of Grapes, Recumbent Nude, Nude Woman, Bather on the Rock, Coiffure, Woman in a Heavy Coat, Geranium.
Manguin mainly painted female figures: nude, asleep, getting up, at their toilet or bathing. He also painted landscapes, many of them on the Mediterranean coast, and still-lifes, almost always flowers. The critic and poet Apollinaire characterised him as a 'peintre voluptueux' and indeed he painted only the happiest aspects of the world, reflecting his own joie de vivre. Like his friends from Moreau's studio, following brief débuts marked by their discovery of Impressionism, of the Nabis, then of Cézanne, he started exhibiting at the time Fauvism burst on to the scene. Because the exaltation of colour that was one of the movement's imperatives suited his own temperament and inclinations, it was quite natural for him to join the group from the Cage aux Fauves of 1905. He and other painters from the group discussed Fauvist theories at length during the first days of the 20th century. Records were kept of the conversations between him, Paul Signac and Charles Camoin in St-Tropez, the area where he frequently stayed until his death and that he was so fond of painting. Ambrose Vollard took a great interest in Manguin's early works, which makes it all the more curious that he made no mention of them in his voluminous Memoirs of an Art Dealer ( Souvenirs d'un marchand de tableaux).
He was represented at thematic exhibitions, notably: 1964, Valtat and Friends ( Valtat et ses amis), Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon; 1983, Manguin among the Fauvists ( Manguin parmi les fauves), Gianadda Foundation, Martigny; 2001, Fauvism in Black and White. From Gauguin to Vlaminck, Fauvist Engraving and its Setting ( Le Fauvisme en Noir et Blanc. De Gauguin à Vlaminck, l'Estampe des Fauves et son Environnement), Musée d'Art Moderne, Villeneuve d'Ascq.
In 1943, a Parisian gallery presented a large collection of his works. The exhibitions and retrospectives held since his death include: a tribute by the Salon des Indépendants in 1950; 1957, the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi; 1968, the Grenier à Sel, Honfleur; 1969, the Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf; 1976, Centenary of Henri Manguin at the Galerie de Paris; 1976, the Musée de L'Annonciade, St-Tropez; 1980, Tribute to Henri Manguin at the Galerie Paul Vallotton, Lausanne; 1988, at the Musée Marmottan, Paris; 1994, Henri Manguin, Southern Light at the Musée Paul Valéry, Sète; 2003, Henri Manguin - Painter of a Happy Life at the Galerie d'Art du Conseil Général des Bouches-du-Rhône, Aix-en-Provence.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Épinal (Musée Départemental d'Art Ancien et Contemporain): Port-Louis
Geneva (Petit Palais): Nude in an Interior (1905)
Paris (MAMVP): Anemones (1934)
Paris (MNAM-CCI): Gulf of St-Tropez; Still-life with Sea Urchins
St Petersburg (Hermitage): St-Tropez (1905)