In 1930, Derain painted a series of landscapes in the South of France, in the vicinity of Sainte-Maxime. The canvases he produced during his stay on the Côte d’Azur during this period broke with the harsh palette associated with the Fauvist group, of which Derain had been a leader, along with Matisse and Vlaminck. Extending the studies undertaken by Cézanne, Gauguin and the Post-Impressionists, these young artists had exhibited at the Salon d’automne (1905)—alongside Camoin, Van Dongen and Marquet— works whose violent tones and extremely simplified forms shocked the public. Waxing indignant in Room 7, where the works of these painters were on show, the art critic Louis Vauxcelles unwittingly gave a name to the movement when he exclaimed, “Donatello among the wild beasts [fauves]!” He was contrasting their work with an academic bust by Albert Marque that occupied the centre of the gallery.
Prior to 1914, Derain’s style was characterized by bright colours; but starting in 1919, his palette gradually began to darken. In this canvas, which is emblematic of the work he began making in the 1920s, Derain opted for a range of subdued tones to give harmonious expression to the play of light on architecture. With its earth tones and lighting, this canvas—painted before 1936—betrays the influence of Corot’s Italian paintings and preserves the memory of the work of Cézanne and Courbet.
© Estate of André Derain / SOCAN (2020)