Bozena Nikiel will include this painting in her forthcoming Metzinger catalogue raisonné.
The 1906 Salon d'Automne had marked the debut of Fauvism, where alongside works by André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, Henri Matisse showed his shocking Femme au chapeau. Public reaction galvanized these artists, who became known as les fauves ("the wild beasts"), and encouraged them to forge a short-lived but influential alliance. Earlier that year, at the 21st Salon des Artistes Indépendants, there was a retrospective of forty-five major paintings and works on paper by Vincent van Gogh, as well as a similarly sized tribute to Georges Seurat. Metzinger saw and was clearly influenced by these exhibitions. The Fauve movement had suggested to the young painter the freedom of a new chromatically-driven and anti-naturalistic pictorialism, which was rooted in the color theories that Seurat had advocated, and could be expressed in the energetic handling of van Gogh. Significantly, the Salon d'Automne of 1906 also included a retrospective of Paul Gauguin, who had died three years earlier in the Marquesas Islands. Metzinger's work, alongside that of Matisse and fellow artist Robert Delaunay, would soon display the impact of Gauguin's painting, specifically in terms of the areas of flatly applied anti-naturalist color with which he created his compositions.
The current work is one of a small number of compositions in which Metzinger fuses a broad, divisionist fracture with a fauve palette, revealing not only the influence of Neo-Impressionist painters such as Seurat, Paul Signac and Henri Edmond Cross, but also the significance to the young artist of Matisse's overtly Neo-Impressionist landscape, Luxe, calme et volupté, which had been shown at the Salon des Indépendants in the spring of 1905. Petit port, pêcheurs et bateaux au quai reveals a vivid and mosaic-like application of paint, as both the composition and execution the work retain a rigorous structure.