Paysage de l’Île-de-France belongs to a series of landscapes that Derain executed in the winter of 1904-05. These precocious works launched his professional career and contributed to the creation of the School of Chatou. Interestingly, it was Matisse who introduced Derain to the legendary dealer Ambroise Vollard in February 1905, and the dealer subsequently bought out Derain’s studio.
L’Île-de-France is the region surrounding Paris, in north-central France. Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck grew up in Chatou, where they shared an atelier in the beginning of the 1900s. Vlaminck described the earliest days of the Fauve movement in 1904 when he and Derain often worked side-by-side: “Each of us set up his easel, Derain facing Chatou, with the bridge and steeple in front of him, myself to one side, attracted by the poplars. Naturally I finished first. I walked over to Derain holding my canvas against my legs so that he couldn’t see it. I looked at his picture. Solid, skillful, powerful, already a Derain. ‘What about yours?’ he said. I spun my canvas around. Derain looked at it in silence for a minute, nodded his head, and declared, ‘Very fine.’ That was the starting point of all ‘Fauvism’” (quoted in Judi Freeman, The Fauve Landscape (exhibition catalogue), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1990, p. 15).
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