This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by Maïthé Vallès-Bled and Godeliève de Vlaminck under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.
Galerie Druet, Paris
Robert de Vlaminck, France (brother of the artist)
Private Collection (sold: Sotheby's, London, July 4, 1979, lot 89)
Private Collection, Basel (acquired at the above sale)
Sale: Phillips, London, December 2, 1985, lot 54
Private Collection, Europe
Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Fondation Maeght, A la rencontre de Matisse, 1969, no. 147
Lodève, Musée de Lodève, Derain et Vlaminck 1900-1915, 2001, no. 29
The present work was painted in Chatou, a small town on the river Seine, just northwest of Paris. The railway bridge spanning the river, near Versailles, became an early subject for the Impressionists as it was an ideal emblem of modernization, the movement of the leisure class to the environs outside of Paris, and the changing landscape. Its structure provided a rigorous geometry which they could play against the ceaselessly changing and abstract movement of water, clouds, and even the plumes of smoke emanating from the passing trains. Pierre-August Renoir painted the Chatou bridge in 1881 and the area, to this day, is known as L’ile des Impressionistes.
Vlaminck first moved to Chatou in 1892 and in 1900, he met André Derain, a fellow artist and native of the town. In March 1901, Vlaminck saw an exhibition of van Gogh’s work at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris, which was to play an important role in the development of his own style which revolved around the use of vibrant, non-naturalistic color, boldly applied in flattened patterns that became the hallmark of Fauvism. As Vlaminck himself proclaimed, “In him (van Gogh) I found some of my own aspirations. Probably from the similar Nordic affinities? And as well as revolutionary fervour, and almost religious feeling for the interpretation of nature. I came out of this retrospective exhibition shake to the core” (quoted in J. Freeman (ed.), The Fauve Landscape, exhibition catalogue, County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1990, p. 21). Shortly thereafter, Vlamnick and Derain launched a collaboration which culminated in the brilliant masterpieces of the Fauve movement.
The main focus of La Seine et le pont de Chatou is the shimmering effect of light on the water, rendered in overlapping strokes of white, light blue and turquoise hues which gradually turn to deep blue under the shadow of the bridge. We find as well typical brushstrokes of brilliant reds beginning judiciously in the foreground then, by ways of a very subtle secondary reflection inside the second arch of the bridge, they leap to the background structures, bracketing the predominately cool tones with hot accents.
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