Fishing Boats at L’Estaque
André Derain ( French, 1880 - 1954 )
This small yet powerful painting was made at the height of André Derain’s Fauve period. The Fauves (or Wild Beasts) had stunned visitors in 1905 at the Salon d’automne with their use of simplified forms, high-keyed palettes, broken brushstrokes, and unmodulated patches of color. Painted in Provence in the summer of 1906, Fishing Boats at L’Estaque demonstrates the hallmarks of this innovative style developed by Derain and Henri Matisse. Against large areas of unpainted canvas, Derain placed boats, fishermen, a dock, and distant mountains in confident, unwavering strokes of solid reds, yellows, pinks, greens, and blues. Overlaid by these vibrant colors arranged like pieces of a puzzle, the exposed white ground signifies light reflecting off of sky and water. The result is a contrasting illusion of depth and flatness. Although spontaneous in appearance, Fishing Boats at L’Estaque reveals Derain’s methodical search for structure and balance in his composition the lines of his initial charcoal or graphite sketch remain visible in the middle ground.