Fishing Boats at L’Estaque
André Derain ( French, 1880 - 1954 )
Derain made this small yet powerful painting at the height of his Fauve period. The Fauves (The 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, the artist 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 reflecting light. The result is a contrasting illusion of depth and flatness. Although spontaneous in appearance, this painting 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.