The Wildenstein Institute will include this painting in their forthcoming Vlaminck catalogue raisonné.
Never a happy traveller away from his beloved Chatou in the western suburbs of Paris, Vlaminck's reaction to André Derain's rental of a studio in the centre of Paris in the autumn of 1906 was characteristically forthright: 'I had no wish for a change of scene. All these places that I knew so well, the Seine with its strings of barges, the tugs with their plumes of smoke, the taverns in the suburbs, the colour of the atmosphere, the sky with its great clouds and patches of sun, these were what I wanted to paint' (quoted in G. Diehl, The Fauves, New York, 1975, p. 104).
In the spring of 1906 Derain had returned from London where he had travelled at the suggestion of Ambroise Vollard. He brought back with him a group of paintings of the city, twelve of which he sold on to Vollard in July of that year, including Le port de Londres (London, Tate Gallery; fig. 1), a work in fact only completed by Derain once he had returned to Chatou. Certainly among Derain's greatest Fauve pictures, these London works seem to have had a profound effect on Vlaminck, his brother-in-arms in the Fauve adventure.
Throughout the following months of 1906 Vlaminck and Derain painted alongside one another at Chatou. Under the influence of Derain, Vlaminck's percussive, broken brushstroke and crackling palette of primaries gradually gave way to a longer, more fluid line and a general cooling of tone, albeit still punctuated with dashes of pure, rich colour. Both these developments can be traced in Péniches sur la Seine à Chatou and other works such as Les arbres rouges (Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne), which, with their underlying sure sense of structure and balance, also point forward to Vlaminck's later, Cézannesque phase.