- André Derain
- Signed and dated A. Derain 1906 (lower right)
- Oil on canvas
Albert Skira, Geneva
Private Collection (acquired from the above)
Private Collection, France (a gift from the above in 1937)
Thence by descent to the present owner
Bern, Kunsthalle, Les Fauves und die Zeitgenossen, 1950, no. 20
Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Derain, 1954-55, no. 14
Paris, Galerie Beaux-Arts, Tableaux de collections parisiennes, 1850-1950, 1955, no. 38
Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne; Munich, Haus der Kunst; Hamburg, Kunstverein, Le Fauvisme français et les débuts de l'Expressionnisme allemand, 1966, no. 30
Warsaw & Katowice, Rétrospective du salon d’automne en Pologne, 1973, no. 23
Paris, Grand Palais, La grande aventure du Salon d’Automne, 75 ans d’ardeur, Les Fauves, 1979, no. 19
Paysage provençal holds an important place in André Derain’s early career, for it marks the beginning of the transition from pure Fauvism to a period which showed the marked influence of Paul Cézanne. While it is dated 1906, it is possible that the work was completed the following year. Though the subject matter of the landscape and the palette remain faithful to the great Fauve works of 1905, the paint layer becomes more regular in thickness, and the composition more controlled.
Commenting on the Fauve movement of which he was a leading innovator, Derain remarked, “Fauvism was our ordeal by fire. No matter how far we moved away from things, in order to observe them and transpose them at our leisure, it was never far enough. Colors became charges of dynamite. They were expected to discharge light. It was a fine idea, in its freshness, that everything could be raised above the real. It was serious too. With our flat tones, we even preserved a concern for mass, giving for example to a spot of sand a heaviness it did not possess, in order to bring out the fluidity of the water, the lightness of the sky…The great merit of this method was to free the picture from all imitative and conventional contact.” However, dissatisfaction soon set in: “What was wrong in our attitude was a kind of fear of imitating life, which made us approach things from too far off and led us to hasty judgments. Where there is temperament, there can be no imitation. Thus it became necessary for us to return to more cautious attitudes, to lay in a store of resources from the outset, to secure patiently for each painting a long development” (quoted in Denys Sutton, André Derain, London, 1959, pp. 20-21).
Even as early as 1904, Derain would certainly have had the opportunity to see works by the great Post-Impressionist master Paul Cézanne. The following year, Ambroise Vollard, Cézanne’s dealer and most important supporter, was introduced to Derain by fellow Fauve Henri Matisse, and promptly placed him under contract. However, as was the case with Vlaminck, and even Picasso and Braque, it was not until after Cézanne’s death in October 1906, and the important retrospective exhibition that took place at the Salon d’Automne the following year, that the artists of the younger generation began to incorporate deliberate allusions to Cézanne into their work.
In Paysage provençal, Derain moves away from the coastal views of the high Fauve period, adopting the type of landscape typical of the Midi region of France so dear to Cézanne. The master's influence begins to be felt in the palette and especially in the stylized, almost geometrical forms that make up the composition. All these elements attest to this work's great modernity, and may even indicate that, while perhaps shorter-lived than his contemporaries Picasso and Braque, Derain's artistic debt to Cézanne preceded all others.
Fig. 1, Paul Cézanne, Montagne Sainte-Victoire vu de Bibémus, circa 1897, Baltimore Museum of Art.