noun, often capitalized
\ ˈfōv How to pronounce fauve (audio) \

Definition of fauve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a painter practicing fauvism : fauvist



Definition of fauve (Entry 2 of 2)

1 often capitalized : of or relating to the fauves
2 : vivid in color

The Artistic History of Fauve


When French art critic Louis Vauxcelles spotted a statue reminiscent of 15th-century Italian art in the midst of works by an avant-garde group of painters—principal among them Henri Matisse—at an exhibit in Paris in 1905, he verbalized his shock with the words "Donatello au milieu des fauves!" ("Donatello among the wild animals!"). His reaction was to the painters' unconventional use of intensely vivid color and free treatment of form, and apparently his words weren't far off the mark in describing their art: Matisse and company's art movement became known as "Fauvism" and the artists flourishing in it, the "Fauves." In 1967, the intense impact of their colors was still vibrant, inspiring one writer for Vogue to use fauve as an adjective to describe the colors of a "striking" flowered coat—and that use can still be found today vivifying colors.

Examples of fauve in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On the fifth floor, the colorful paintings of Shara Hughes push natural forms toward feverish abstraction using the Fauves and early American modernists like Charles Burchfield. Roberta Smith, New York Times, 16 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fauve.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of fauve


1931, in the meaning defined above


1945, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fauve


French, literally, wild animal, from fauve tawny, wild, from Old French falve tawny, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German falo fallow — more at fallow

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Cite this Entry

“Fauve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fauve. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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