Andre Derain
Andre Derain

Bateaux sur la plage à Collioure

Andre Derain
Bateaux sur la plage à Collioure
signed 'A. Derain' (lower left)
oil on canvas
7½ x 9¼ in. (19 x 23.5 cm.)
Painted in 1905
Eric Estorick, London.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1974, lot 63.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York (acquired at the above sale).
Private collection, Switzerland (30 November 1978).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, European Masters, January-February 1975.
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, 20th Century Masters, November 1975.
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, European Masters, January 1976.
Paris, Galeries nationales d'exposition du Grand Palais, Foire international d'art contemporain 78, October 1978.

Lot Essay

The Comité André Derain has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.

Derain painted the present landscape during the summer of 1905 at Collioure, a remote fishing village on the Mediterranean coast in the far southwest of France. He traveled there in early July at the invitation of Matisse, who had arrived two months earlier; Matisse wrote to Derain, "I cannot insist too strongly that a stay here is absolutely necessary for your work. I am certain that if you take my advice you will be glad of it. That is why I say to you again, come" (quoted in H. Spurling, The Unknown Matisse: A Life of Henri Matisse, The Early Years, 1869-1908, New York, 1999, p. 316). Indeed, the sojourn at Collioure would transform both artists' work. Within just a few weeks, they broke free from the model of Neo-Impressionism and began to paint in a freely brushed and intensely colorful style, characterized by irregular strokes of pure, unmodulated pigment, placed separately on the white primed canvas to create a dazzling effect of vibrating light. In a letter to Vlaminck from late July, Derain explained this new approach: "A new conception of light consisting in this: the negation of shadows. Light here is very strong, shadows very faint. Every shadow is a whole world of clarity and luminosity which contrasts with sunlight" (quoted in D. Sutton, André Derain, London, 1959, p. 16). When Derain and Matisse exhibited their work from Collioure at the Salon d'Automne in October, it created an immediate sensation. The critic Louis Vauxcelles, scandalized by the violent immediacy of the paintings, dubbed the two artists and their cohort Les Fauves ("The Wild Beasts"), thereby lending a name to the first real revolution in twentieth-century art. Magdalena Dabrowski has written, "Shocking as they seemed when exhibited at the Salon d'Automne, works [from Collioure] placed Derain among the major figures of the Paris avant-garde. Inspired by the landscape, color, and light of Collioure, he and Matisse had arrived at a new confidence in the power of contrasting colors and in color as the agent of pictorial composition" (French Landscape: The Modern Vision, 1880-1920, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1999, p. 99).

When Derain and Matisse traveled to Collioure, it remained largely unmodernized and unaccustomed to tourists, in contrast to the fishing ports turned bathing establishments along the Channel coast. To paint the present landscape, Derain positioned himself on one of the two beaches at Collioure where fisherman moored their boats. He viewed the scene at extremely close range, suggesting to the viewer that he had gained full access to the world of these locals. The saturated primary colors and prominent diagonals in the foreground lend the composition a sense of energy and dynamism; the background, in contrast, is comprised of stable, calming horizontals in paler hues (the high horizon line, the marks stacked like bricks to suggest distant waves, the thick slashes of pigment in the sky). The white sails of the boats are rendered almost entirely from exposed primed canvas, a clever matching of the rugged fabric of the painting's support to the coarse sailcloth of the fishing vessels. The landscape has none of the underpainting, layering, mixing, or modeling that would have suggested artistic finesse to a contemporary viewer; rather, it employs a seemingly (and self-consciously) rustic style to depict the equally rustic port of Collioure. James Herbert has written, "The Fauves pretended to an intimacy with their Mediterranean sites and the local residents that seemed to cast aside the sophistication--social and artistic--of Paris. Most important, Fauve canvases are stripped clean of any signs of the skilled artist's mediation. Highly noticeable in these paintings are all the technical devices that declare this manner of painting to be so simple as not to constitute recondite art--visible priming, crude brushwork--and to be derived directly from the object portrayed--the bright colors favored by the locals, the conflation of sailcloth and canvas... Pictorial means seem as guileless as pictorial theme. The practice proved effective among Parisian critics, for it earned these artists the label les fauves, 'wild beasts' presumably as much at home in nature as were the fishermen of Collioure" (The Fauve Landscape, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990, pp. 162 and 173).

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