This painting will be included in the forthcoming Vlaminck catalogue critique being prepared by Maïthé Vallès-Bled and Godeliève de Vlaminck under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.
Most likely dating from circa 1912, Bord de rivière is a fine example of a group of landscapes from a brief but exciting transitional period in Vlaminck's work. Following on from the colouristic exuberances of the fauve years, Vlaminck found himself becoming increasingly dissatisfied with this experiment and between 1907 and the early 1910s he created a unique group of paintings that combined the ardour and colourism of his Fauve period with a new-found sense of pictorial structure.
Vlaminck was rarely happy away from his beloved Chatou in the western suburbs of Paris. Thus, like his greatest fauve paintings, these paintings from this transitional period largely take as their subject Chatou and its environs. Vlaminck's reaction to André Derain's rental of a studio in the centre of Paris in the autumn of 1906 was telling: 'I had no wish for a change of scene. All these places that I knew so well, the Seine with its strings of barges, the tugs with their plumes of smoke, the taverns in the suburbs, the colour of the atmosphere, the sky with its great clouds and patches of sun, these were what I wanted to paint' (quoted in G. Diehl, The Fauves, New York, 1975, p. 104). Thus Chatou became, for Vlaminck, a pictorial idée fixe, an emotional touchstone to which he returned in order to further advance and develop his art, taking the familiar forms of the area around Chatou and filtering them through a new vision, a new means of understanding the appearance of the world and, importantly, a new means of presenting it.
The solution to Vlaminck's pictorial struggles was offered by the Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d'Automne of 1907. Two rooms were devoted to Cézanne's work and the impact of such a large-scale exhibition on Vlaminck was to be profound. In fact, this posthumous exhibition acted as a catalyst for many artists and had a huge impact on the whole face and development of modern art, from the Fauves to the Cubists. Cézanne's exploration of the necessary illusion of painting, his attempt to find a new and true way to depict the three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface, brought about a revolution amongst the younger generations of artists and its effects could be seen as much in Vlaminck's paintings as in Braque's and Picasso's. Vlaminck primarily absorbed Cézanne's lessons on building form through careful planar construction; the bold recession and sustained tension of Bord de rivière owes an obvious debt to the 'ordered sensations' of Cézanne and offered Vlaminck a convincing alternative to the perceived formlessness of fauve landscapes. Furthermore, the dynamic brushwork and increasingly naturalistic use of blues, greens and ochres, that was to characterise his work for the following years, also recalls Cézanne's palette.