The Wildenstein Institute will include this painting in their forthcoming Vlaminck catalogue raisonné.
La Seine à Nanterre depicts the banks of the Seine near Vlaminck's home in the Parisian suburb of Chatou. Chatou was home to both Vlaminck and Derain and their chance meeting in 1900 began one of the great partnerships of modern painting and gave rise to the Fauve movement. Vlaminck had been greatly impressed by Van Gogh's posthumous retrospective at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in 1901 and he began to adapt the principles of dramatic perspective and intense color to his own painting.
Chatou was located at a point along the river where it divided into two channels which were spotted with miles of narrow islands. Vlaminck found inspiration in the bustling life along the river and these views comprise the majority of his early and late Fauve works. "He obviously loved the places he painted, with the love of someone who can be pleased to see the same things under old as well as new lights. Whenever he recalled the motifs of the suburbs, he did so affectionately, and he reserved his most nostalgic expressions for Chatou and its familiar sights, sounds and routines" (J. Klein, The Fauve Landscape, New York, 1990, exh. cat., p. 131). Vlaminck preferred the landscape around Chatou and only occasionally returned to Paris. "I am living in the midst of the countryside. What grandeur does solitude express! What sincerity it compels! Thanks to it, one understands, or rather one feels more deeply the true values, the kernel of life, inner peace. How much closer to humanity I feel in contact with a peasant, or a highway vagrant, than beside any representative of privileged class!" (quoted in S. Whitfield, Fauvism, London, 1991, p. 115).
The present picture was painted circa 1907 and it is typical of Vlaminck's later Fauve works in which he favored directness and simplicity of handling. Although stylistically radical, it conveys a sense of intimacy and sense of harmony with the landscape. Working from nature in situ, the palette is dominated by primary colors that he applies with vigorous brushwork directly to the canvas. "Instinct is the foundation of art," he said, "I try to paint with my heart and my guts" (quoted in W. Haftmann, Painting in the Twentieth Century, New York, 1965, vol. I, p. 73). By 1906 Vlaminck had contracted to sell his total output to Ambroise Vollard, which freed him to devote himself entirely to his painting, and in 1907 he had his first one-man exhibit at Vollard's gallery. Vlaminck was so fond of this work that he kept it until the late 1940s, when he sold it to the father of the present owner.