- André Derain
- La jetée à L’Estaque
- signed A. Derain on the reverse
- oil on canvas
Private Collection, Strasbourg
Thence by descent to the present owner
Lodève, Musée de Lodève, Derain et Vlaminck 1900-1915, 2001, no. 24, illustrated in the catalogue
Saint-Tropez, Le musée de l'Annonciade, André Derain, paysages du midi, 2003, no. 4, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Georges Hilaire, Derain, Geneva, 1959, illustrated pl. 42
Michel Kellermann, André Derain: catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre peint, Paris, 1962, vol. 1, no. 115, illustrated
‘La grande aventure de l’art moderne à Strasbourg’, in L’œil, Paris, no. 103-104, July-August 1963, illustrated in colour on the cover
Derain painted fifteen canvases over the course of his stay in L’Estaque, all of which are marked by their vibrant colours and energetic brushstrokes. These landscapes were executed at a decisive moment in the artist’s career as he continued the exploration of light and colour begun the previous summer at Collioure with Matisse. The L’Estaque series is characterised by a departure from realistic representation and a desire to infuse the landscapes with a feeling of ideal and harmonious isolation. La jetée à L’Estaque depicts a series of boats alongside a harbour jetty bleached by the extraordinary sunlight of the South of France. In L’Estaque Derain was encouraged to continue to explore new and innovative manners of painting, as he commented in a letter to Vlaminck: ‘I sense that I am orienting myself toward something better, where the picturesque would matter less than last year, in order to attend only to the question of painting. Really we have a problem that has grown to such a degree that it becomes quite difficult. […] If we are not looking for a decorative usage, we may just tend to purify, more and more, this transposition of nature. But, until now we only did it, intentionally in terms of colours. […] On the one hand, we seek to free ourselves from the objective world, but, on the other hand, we guard those elements of the objective world as the source and as the end [of what we are doing…], Instead, I believe that the problem is to group forms in light and to harmonize them at the same time with the material that one has available’ (quoted in The Fauve Landscape: Matisse, Derain, Braque and Their Circle, 1904-1908 (exhibition catalogue), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1990, p. 39). In the present work Derain has abandoned the technical exactness of Neo-Impressionism in favour of an abstract mosaic of flat patches and short strokes of vibrant colour, whilst the areas of pristine white-primed canvas assumes the role of dazzling sunlit patches – a technique he had first introduced in 1905 at Collioure (fig. 1), and which he uses to masterly effect here. He paints in the wild, hot palette of reds, cobalts, yellows and greens that defined the Fauves, with little or no concern for naturalistic representation.
Commenting on the importance of his early work, Derain stated: ‘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. Colours 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’ (quoted in Denys Sutton, André Derain, London, 1959, p. 20-21).