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.
As fortuitously timed as his chance encounter with Derain had been seven years earlier, in 1907 Vlaminck attended a retrospective of Paul Cézanne’s work at the Salon d’Automne. Although through his association with Ambroise Vollard, Vlaminck would have certainly been aware of the Provençal master’s work, the impact of seeing two rooms dedicated entirely to Cézanne’s paintings had a profound effect on the artist.
Indeed, upon his return to Chatou, Vlaminck began to adopt an increasingly Cézannesque style. Slowly reducing his palette to a cool range of earthen tones, Vlaminck replaced some of his once bold, bright Fauve colours with softer blues and greens. It was at this time that he also began to employ a more disciplined constructive stroke, reducing, for example the bank on the left side of the river in the present lot to a series of overlapping, structural planes.
Yet despite the palpable influence of Cézanne in the treatment of the painted surface, Bateau-lavoir à Chatou nonetheless retains elements of Vlaminck’s singular Fauve style. A glorious example of the artist’s early transitional period, there are the characteristic brightly charged moments such as the fiery orange sun dipping below the horizon and reflected in the water at the edge of the bateau-lavoir, the sudden red roofs of the riverside cottages, and the lively spots of yellow wild flowers on the river bank.
Then too there are bursts of energetic and lively brushwork, which break through the artist’s more disciplined moments. These vertical and horizontal strokes brimming with energy give the water paradoxically a shimmering but reflective surface - qualities of exuberance which were at the very heart of the Fauve genre.