Painted in 1907, Paysage à Hambourg dates from the height of Herbin’s Fauvist period and belongs to a series of roughly ten works painted in and around Hambourg in the summer of that year. During the course of this ground-breaking period, Herbin exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants and in the fifth Salon d’Automne alongside André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and Georges Braque. The bright palette and frenetic quality of Paysage à Hambourg was inspired by scenes painted by his contemporaries in Collioure, Saint Tropez and L’Estaque.
Herbin’s composition shares the thick impasto, large bands of color and dynamic brushwork found in the Fauve works of his contemporaries. Deploying colors straight out of the tube and applying them to the canvas in swift, confident brushstrokes, Herbin here depicts intense sunlight falling on the river, bridge and houses. He creates form through sparse bands of color juxtaposed against one another. Indeed, Paysage à Hambourg provides a compelling insight into the artist’s approach to translating light into form, anticipating the bright and abstract landscapes he would go on to produce in the late 1920s.