Born in Paris to a Flemish father and a French mother, Vlaminck grew up in a musical household that was virtually impoverished. At the age of sixteen, he left home and moved to Chatou, where he later supported his wife and two children by working as a professional cyclist and an itinerant violinist. Although now considered a suburb of Paris, Chatou was then a small village situated to the west, along the Seine. Opposite it lies the Île de Chatou, a long, narrow stretch of land in the center of the river. The scene shown here appears to have been observed from a point on the island facing the village of Chatou, with its red-roofed houses, on the mainland. Vlaminck shared a studio on the island with fellow artist André Derain in 1900. Together, they formed what has been called the "School of Chatou," and their painting style—characterized by bright colors and bold brushstrokes—was a harbinger of Fauvism.
The self-taught Vlaminck embraced painting with the same unbridled passion as he did life itself, spontaneously choosing the most straightforward forms and basic hues to express his feelings: "I try to paint with my heart and my guts without worrying about style." After the Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard purchased Vlaminck's existing stock of paintings early in 1906, the artist was able to devote himself fully to painting, and his work became more lighthearted and exuberant. He spent the summer of 1906 in and around Chatou, painting pictures such as this one, in which he emulated the undisguised brushwork and intuitive application of paint of Van Gogh's late, expressive style, which he so admired. Combining the primary colors of blue and red with white, Vlaminck applied them directly from the tube in daubs and swirls of pigment, employing these conventional hues for the white houses, green leaves, reddish-orange tree trunks, and the blue, red, and white trawler in the background.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): Vlaminck
[Ambroise Vollard, Paris, about 1906–d. 1939; purchased from the artist]; his heirs, Paris (from 1939); [Wildenstein & Co., London, until 1946; sold on March 14, 1946 to the Earl of Jersey]; Earl of Jersey, London (1946–78); [Artemis Group, Luxembourg and Brussels, 1978]; Jacques and Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1978–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)
Kunsthalle Basel. "Vlaminck, R. Dufy, Rouault," May 14–June 8, 1938, no. 153 or 155 (as "Les bassins du Hâvre," lent by Ambroise Vollard, Paris or "Bords de la Seine," for sale) [possibly this picture].
London. Wildenstein & Co. "Exhibition of Two Contrasting Periods in the Work of Vlaminck," June 1939, no. 5.
London. Lefevre Gallery. "Les Fauves," November 16–December 21, 1978, no. 5 (as "La Seine à Chatou," c. 1906).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 76).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "The Fauve Landscape," October 4–December 30, 1990, unnumbered cat. (pl. 143).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Fauve Landscape," February 19–May 5, 1991, extended to May 19, 1991, unnumbered cat.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "The Fauve Landscape," June 10–September 1, 1991, unnumbered cat.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 100).
Florent Fels. Vlaminck. Paris, 1928, ill. p. 36.
Artemis 77–78: Consolidated Audited Annual Report (1978), pp. 41–42, no. 17, ill. (color), dates it 1905; states that it was acquired by a private collector, North America.
Keith Roberts. "Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions: Edinburgh and London." Burlington Magazine 121 (January 1979), p. 52.
Pierre Schneider inTwentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 27.
Sabine Rewald inTwentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 75–77, 316, ill. (color and bw), based on postcards dated about 1900, identifies this scene as the village of Chatou on the right, seen from the Île de Chatou across the Seine.
Vanina Costa. "La Nature fauve." Beaux Arts no. 85 (December 1990), p. 82, ill. (color).
John Klein in Judi Freeman. The Fauve Landscape. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1990, pp. 134, 151 n. 26, p. 320, colorpl. 143, compares this picture to a postcard of the same view near Vlaminck and Derain's shared studio on the Île de Chatou, at the base of the Pont de Chatou, facing downriver with the "grander riverside houses of Chatou at the right" [see Ref. Rewald 1989]; comments that Vlaminck's paintings of Chatou reflect his status as a resident, not a tourist, who "obviously loved the places he painted, with the love of someone who can be pleased to see the same things under old as well as new lights".
Sarah Whitfield. Fauvism. London, 1991, p. 119, fig. 89.
Joachim Pissarro. "New York, MoMA: The Fauve Landscape." Burlington Magazine 133 (February 1991), p. 145, fig. 102 (color).
Niamh O'Laoghaire. "The Influence of Van Gogh on Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck, 1898–1908." PhD diss., University of Toronto, 1992, pp. 302, 340, pl. 175.
Bernard Zürcher. Les Fauves. Paris, 1995, ill. p. 63 (color).
Benoît Noël and Jean Hournon. La Seine au temps des Canotiers. Garches, 1997, ill. p. 116 (color).
Maïthé Vallès-Bled. Vlaminck: Catalogue critique des peintures et céramiques de la période fauve. Critical Catalogue of Fauve Paintings and Ceramics. Paris, 2008, pp. 294–95, 297–98, 338, 385, 424, 570, 576, 578–79, no. 129, ill. (color), disagrees with Refs. Rewald 1989 and Klein 1990, identifying the site as the place where the bridge spans the Île de Chatou and the village of Rueil and comparing it to postcards of this smaller arm of the Seine on the Rueil side; notes that the sailboat in the foreground, called a "Chatou monotype," and the tugboat were types that "navigated the Seine at this time".
Artist: Maurice de Vlaminck (French, Paris 1876–1958 Reuil-La-Gadelière) Date: ca. 1920Medium: Reed pen or wooden stick and black ink and graphite, with black ink border, on off-white wove paper mounted on heavy wove paper, framed with a gilt lineAccession: 1975.1.760On view in:Not on view