de Vlaminck, Maurice “Voiliers Sur La Seine”

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“Sailing Boats on the The Seine,” by Maurice de Vlaminck (April 1876 – October 1958). de Vlaminck along with Henri Matisse started the Fauve movement. This short-lived style was known as “wild beasts” because of the use of intense color. His work was well received in 1905 during the Salon d’Automne.

Maurice de Vlaminck was born in Paris. His father was Flemish and taught violin and his mother came from Lorraine and taught piano. His father taught him to play the violin which helped support him during the lean art years. He began painting in his late teens. In 1893, he studied with a painter named Henri Rigalon. In 1894 he married Suzanne Berly. The turning point in his life was a chance meeting on the train to Paris towards the end of his stint in the army. Vlaminck, then 23, met an aspiring artist, André Derain, with whom he struck up a lifelong friendship. When Vlaminck completed his army service in 1900, the two rented a studio together for a year before Derain left to do his own military service. In 1902 and 1903 he wrote several mildly pornographic novels illustrated by Derain. He painted during the day and earned his livelihood by giving violin lessons and performing with musical bands at night.

In 1911, Vlaminck traveled to London and painted by the Thames. In 1913, he painted again with Derain. In World War I he was stationed in Paris, and began writing poetry. Eventually he settled in a small village south-west of Paris. He married his second wife, Berthe Combes, with whom he had two daughters. From 1925 he traveled throughout France, but continued to paint primarily along the Seine, near Paris. Resentful that Fauvism had been overtaken by Cubism as an art movement Vlaminck blamed Picasso “for dragging French painting into a wretched dead end and state of confusion”. During the Second World War Vlaminck visited Germany and on his return published a tirade against Picasso and Cubism in the periodical Comoedia in June 1942. A gifted story teller, Vlaminck wrote many autobiographies, which were somewhat marred either by vagueness or lack of absolute truthfulness.

For the next few years Vlaminck lived in or near Chatou (the inspiration for his painting houses at Chatou), painting and exhibiting alongside Derain, Matisse, and other Fauvist painters. At this time his exuberant paint application and vibrant use of colour displayed the influence of Vincent van Gogh. Sur le zinc called to mind the work of Toulouse-Lautrec and his portrayals of prostitutes and solitary drinkers, but does not attempt to probe the sitter’s psychology—a break with the century-old European tradition of individualized portraiture. According to art critic Souren Melikian, it is “the impersonal cartoon of a type.” In his landscape paintings, his approach was similar. He ignored the details, with the landscape becoming a vehicle through which he could express mood through violent color and brushwork. The following year, he began to experiment with “deconstruction,” turning the physical world into dabs and streaks of color that convey a sense of motion. His paintings Le Pont de Chatou (The Chatou Bridge), Les Ramasseurs de pommes de terre (The Potato Pickers), La Seine a Chatou (The River Seine at Chatou) and Le Verger (The Orchard) exemplify this trend.

Here is a first edition lithograph in color, signed by Vlaminck on the stone, and printed in Paris in the year he passed. It is 23″ x 21″ framed with the image size 9.5″ x 12.25″. It is a lovely, soft piece of art.

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