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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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New York

Maurice de Vlaminck
1876 - 1958
LE REMORQUEUR
Signed Vlaminck (lower right); signed Vlaminck and titled on the reverse 
Oil on canvas 
23 1/4 by 31 1/2 in.
59 by 80 cm
Painted in 1906.
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Provenance

Mlle Parent, Paris (by 1937)
Galerie de l'Élysée, Paris (by 1939)
Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block, Chicago
Acquavella Galleries, New York
Sale: Sotheby's, London, July 4, 1976, lot 27
Acquired at the above sale and thence by descent

Exhibited

(probably) Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Exposition rétrospective de 70 tableaux par Vlaminck, 1933, no. 54 (titled Paysage)
Paris, Petit Palais, Les Maîtres de l'Art indépendant, 1895-1937, 1937, no. 16
Basel, Kunsthalle, Vlaminck, R. Dufy, Rouault, 1938, no. 154
(probably) Paris, Galerie de l'Élysée, Bilan 38, 1939 (as dating from 1904)
(probably) New York, Marie Harriman Gallery, Les Fauves, 1941, no. 10 (as dating from circa 1905)
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Manguin parmi les Fauves, 1983, no. 65, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Paris, Galerie de la Présidence, Maurice Vlaminck, 1987, no. 2, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art & London, Royal Academy of Arts, The Fauve Landscape: Matisse, Derain, Braque, and their Circle, 1904-1908, 1990-91, illustrated in color in the catalogue pl. 341 (as dating from circa 1906)

Literature

Maximilien Gauthier, Vlaminck, Paris, 1949, illustrated pl. IV (titled La Seine à Bougival and as dating from 1903)
Maurice Genevoix, Vlaminck. L'Homme. L'oeuvre, Paris, 1954, illustrated p. 39
Umbro Apollonio, Fauves et cubistes, Paris and Bergamo, 1959, illustrated in color p. 23
Guido Marinelli, Pittura Moderna, dai 'Nabis' a Picasso, Bergamo, 1972, illustrated in color pl. 35
Roger Bouillot, "Hommage à Vlaminck," Oeil, Paris, June 1987, illustrated in color p. 42
Niamh O'Laoghaire, The Influence of Van Gogh on Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck, Toronto, 1992, illustrated pl. 150 (as dating from circa 1906)
Jean Laude, La Peinture française et 'l'Art nègre' (1905-1914) Contribution à l'étude des sources du fauvisme et du cubisme, Paris, 2006, p. 133
Maïthé Vallès-Bled, Vlaminck, Catalogue critique des peintures et céramiques de la période fauve, Paris, 2008, no. 161, illustrated in color p. 361


 

Catalogue Note

This depiction of a tugboat pulling a barge exemplifies the expressive brushwork and vivid palette for which Vlaminck's Fauve compositions are renowned.  Vlaminck had depicted this subject the year before (catalogue raisonné no. 75), but here he has invested his composition with dashes of hot red, which was the dominant color of his work in 1906.  The explosive color that predominates this composition had earned the artist and his colleagues Matisse, Derain and Braque the name 'wild beasts' the year before at the Paris Salon d'Automne.  Vlaminck, who later described Fauve art as a 'manner of being' rather than an intellectual invention, followed his youthful instincts in applying his paint onto canvas in an almost violent fashion. The fierce blue, green and red hues dominating the scene are contrasted with the black contours, heralding Vlaminck's 'Cézannesque' period that would dominate in the years to come.

Given the narrow expanse of the water between the shorelines, it has been presumed that the location of this scene was Bougival, the commune in the western suburbs of Paris.  It was here that Vlaminck often painted his views of the Seine and the nautical thoroughfare passing through the locks of the river's canal.  Scenes of the Seine predominated in Vlaminck's Fauve compositions and the river traffic  offered numerous colorful subjects for him to paint.  "It was in painting the banks of the Seine," Vlaminck would later recall, "that I tried to represent the emotion that seized hold of me when faced by this landscape....  It can only have been the extraordinarily strong and powerful enthusiasm felt by my twenty-year-old self, the rush of life that I experienced at that time, that enabled me to transpose this banal subject [the Seine], through a blaze of colour, into fierce realism and exuberant picturesque!" (quoted in M. Vallès-Bled, op. cit., p. 363).

In the catalogue raisonné on the artist's work, Maïthé Vallès-Bled writes the following about this picture: "The large blocks of pure colour used in the tugboat and barge are countered by the small, vertical ochre touches of the bank on the right and the dense, horizontal ones that produce the effect of transparency in the water.  In its evocation of the background, the brushwork becomes less precise: a few sparse strokes dash in the foliage, an indistinct slope, and some hazy volutes rising from the funnel of the tugboat and blending with the sky left white" (ibid., p. 360).

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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New York