This work will be included in the critical catalogue of Albert Marquet's paintings being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute.
Albert Marquet painted Port du Havre around 1907, at the height of his Fauve period. The flashes of incandescent colour in the flags, the water and the sun-dappled buildings perfectly demonstrate the vivid energy of the Fauve palette, with the thick brushstrokes of pure, unmixed colour being deftly used in order to capture light effects and reflections as well as the contrasting shaded foreground area, which serves to heighten the contrasts of the luminous background. Marquet was one of the first artists to create pictures in such a way, as was demonstrated by the so-called Nu fauve now in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux which was painted as early as 1898, acting as a precursor to the movement. Marquet, committed to conveying some of the sensation of the artist through the use of colours, maintained an interest in colourism and form that is evident in the composition of Port du Havre, and indeed in his selection of a raised vantage point. Where artists such as Derain and Vlaminck would fill scenes of the Seine at Chatou with colours that conveyed their enthusiasm but were little based in reality, Marquet allowed his palette to explode at times, but retained a firmer grounding in the view before him, selecting subjects that already contained vivid colour. This explains his interest in flags and bunting, as can be seen in Port du Havre, as well as the light-struck houses of a port in summer.
Marquet made several trips to Le Havre during the period following his involvement with the notorious Salon d'Automne of 1905, in which he and his fellow exhibitors in one room had been dubbed the 'Fauves', or Wild Beasts, due to their seemingly unrestrained use of colour. Marquet had an exhibition in Le Havre in 1907, having summered there the previous year, in the company of his friend and fellow associate of the Fauves, Raoul Dufy. There, Marquet and Dufy-- a native of the city, as were their fellow Fauves Emil-Othon Friesz and Georges Braque-- stayed in the Hôtel du Ruban Bleu and consolidated their own ideas regarding the potential of bold brushstrokes of pure colour, resulting in views such as Port du Havre.