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A French decorative artist, painter, and writer, Maurice Denis is a pioneer in the transition between impressionism and modern art. He is widely associated with the movement known as Les Nabis, and was also closely associated with the Symbolist movement and a return to neoclassicism. One of the best-known works by Denis is The Sunflower, which was published in 1904. It is considered one of the most important French paintings of the twentieth century.

Denis was a prolific artist. He published a number of collections of his work. In 1916, he published a collection of his theoretical and historical works titled New Theories of Modern and Sacred Art. The latter included a series of paintings for the Palais des Nations in Geneva. He also gained notoriety as a critic of art, becoming Matisse's most outspoken opponent. He wrote a book about spirituality and taught the Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka.

In the same year, he travelled to Italy, where he met Elisabeth Graterolleore. The couple married in Italy and had a daughter, Marie-Louise. They had two children - a son and a daughter – and he was already 51 when he returned to the United States. In the same year, he completed several decorative panels for the Palais des Nations in Geneva. His reputation as a painter continued to grow. Towards the end of his life, he also published a series of important articles on aesthetics and the subject of beauty.

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