This work is registered with the Sam Francis Estate as archive number SFP 55-16.
In France, Francis absorbed the lessons of the School of Paris, especially Matisse, Cézanne, Bonnard, and Monet, and the sight of the latter's Nympheas series at the Orangerie in 1953 became the pivotal turning point in his career. In the first years of the decade he had already become a colorist par excellence, producing marvelously brilliant fields of organic forms, but the Monet paintings galvanized his disparate experiments. Yellow, 1953, typifies the now mature style of this thirty year old artist. The "cellular" imagery that he would practice throughout his career is there, as well as the lavish sensuality in the choice of hues. In particular at this time, Francis loved to make paintings of a single color, his Big Red, 1953, in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art being a companion in this regard to Yellow. In a sense, Francis was modifying Rothko's approach by concentrating all his saturation of color into one, similarly frontal, rectangle of color.
With works like Yellow, Francis became almost an overnight sensation. Within two years he was being collected by the likes of Alberto Giacometti, the Matisse family, and the Museum of Modern Art. Exhibiting widely, Francis had a solo show at the Kunsthalle, Bern, 1955, as well as participating in an important group show of promising young artists at the Museum of Modern Art, in 1956. Time Magazine pronounced him "the hottest American painter in Paris."