Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)
Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)

La voile blanche à Bougival

Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)
La voile blanche à Bougival
signed 'Vlaminck' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 31 3/4 in. (65 x 81.7 cm.)
Painted in 1909
Henry Dauberville, Paris.
Benjamin Cooper; sale, Sotheby's London, 23 November 1960, lot 67.
Mr. Loumansky, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 13 March 1974, lot 54.
Anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 15 December 1977, lot 32.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 29 November 1988, lot 57.
Private collection, Canada; sale, Christie's, New York, 12 May 1992, lot 127.
Private collection, United States, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Sold subject to a settlement between the above and the heirs of Henry Dauberville.
M. Genevoix, Vlaminck, Paris, 1954, p. 56 (illustrated; titled Bateau à voile à Chatou).

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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

Maïthé Vallès-Bled and Godeliève de Vlaminck will include this work in their forthcoming Maurice de Vlaminck catalogue critique currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

La voile blanche à Bougival was painted during Vlaminck's transitional period of 1907-1910. Capturing the picturesque setting of his hometown at Chatou, set on the banks of the Seine to the north west of Paris, the present work shows the mastery and skill of Vlaminck’s propensity for nature.

Moving away from the fervoured Fauve style that had preoccupied his work for the last seven years; where bold, quick brushstrokes and vibrant pure colours had dominated his compositions, Vlaminck now turned towards a more tempered palette and considered aesthetic. Dispelling the impulsive manner, which epitomised his work from 1900 onwards, ever since his chance encounter with Andre Derain on a train from Paris, Vlaminck sought to discover a more substantial means of painting, finding inspiration in the work of Paul Cézanne, of whose pictures he saw at the 1907 Salon d’Automne retrospective exhibition. Enthused by his interpretation of space, experimentation with volume and his manipulation of colour, Vlaminck adopted a more ordered and structurally rigorous composition. Vlaminck described this change in direction, reiterating the disillusion he now found in the impulsive Fauvist approach to painting, he stated: ‘Working directly in this way, tube against canvas, one quickly arrives at an excessive facility…The play of pure colours, the extreme orchestration into which I threw myself unrestrainedly, no longer satisfies me. I could not stand being able to hit harder, to have to reach the maximum intensity, to be limited by the blue or red of the paint dealer’ (M. de Vlaminck, Dangerous Corner, London, 1961, p. 15).

Although Vlaminck’s style changed during this period, he never was to lose the sense of vigor and exuberance that was imbued in his earlier Fauve work. Indeed, one can argue that it was heightened in the artist’s latter pictures, where he enjoyed a freer, less constrictive approach to painting, allowing him to develop his own unique and personal aesthetic. There is a visceral energy in La voile blanche à Bougival , evoked through Vlaminck’s enlivened brushstrokes, his bold, yet selective palette, the rich impasto of his paint and the interplay of dark shadow and highlights of pure colour, most notably seen here in the white yacht sail, which grants a latent luminosity to his painting. His skill of manipulating colour was noted by Patrick Heron who in his 1947 essay the Changing Forms of Art wrote: ‘Reduced to areas that are predominantly dark or light, a landscape by Vlaminck is nevertheless incomplete, uncreated, until the painter has introduced those brief slabs of pure, and often primary, colour, red, yellow, blue, green, pure white or black at certain points in the composition’ (P. Heron, ‘The Changing Forms of Art’ 1947, cited in A selection of paintings by Maurice de Vlaminck, exh. cat., London, 1956, n.p.)

Returning to his beloved views of the river Seine; the yachts, barges, tugboats, bridges and towpaths seen at Bougival, Argenteuil, Chatou and Pecq, Vlaminck was able to infuse within his pictures his emotive response to the landscape, which in turn has granted a romanticism to his paintings. Vlaminck later recalled: ‘It was in painting the banks of the Seine that I tried to represent the emotion that seized hold of me when faced by this landscape’ (Vlaminck, quoted in M. V-Bled, Vlaminck, Catalogue critique des peintures et céramiquesde la période fauve, Paris, 2008, p. 361). The intensity of his response to the landscape has drawn comparisons with Van Gogh, who Vlaminck greatly admired, finding in the older artist’s work a means of exploring his own pictorial intentions. He explained: ‘In him I found some of my own aspirations…And as well as revolutionary fervour, an almost religious feeling for the interpretation of nature’ (Vlaminck, quoted in J. Freeman, ed., The Fauve Landscape: Matisse, Derain, Braque and Their Circle, 1904-1908, exh. cat, Los Angeles, 1990, p. 21) Certainly Chatou became an emotional touchstone, in which Vlaminck 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 world, and importantly, a new means of presenting it.

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