Maurice de Vlaminck, Remorqueurs sur la Seine

Painted in 1906. signed Vlaminck (lower right). oil on canvas. 51 by 65cm. Estimate 600,000—800,000 GBP

PROVENANCE: Perls Galleries, New York
Mr & Mrs Paul Wurzburger, Cleveland (1960-68)
(possibly) Stanley N. Barbee
Acquavella Galleries, New York
Daniel Malingue, Paris
Private Collection, Japan (acquired circa 1995)
Private Collection
Sale: Christie's, New York, 8th May 2002, lot 249
Private Collection, Europe (purchased at the above sale)
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2005

EXHIBITED: (possibly) New York, Perls Galleries, The Perls Galleries Collection of Modern French Painting, 1953, no. 219 (titled Paysage fauve à la péniche)
Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Paths of Abstract Art, 1960, no. 13, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Paysage à la barque)
Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, La peinture française. Collections américaines, 1966, no. 125 (titled La Barque)
New York, Perls Galleries, Vlaminck: His Fauve Period (1903-1907), 1968, no. 22, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Paysage à la barque)
Fukushima, Musée Préfectoral d'Art; Shimane, Musée Préfectoral; Osaka, Musée Daimaru d'Umeda & Tokyo, Musée des Beaux-Arts Bunkamura, Maurice de Vlaminck, 1996-97, no. 3, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Paysage des bords de Seine)

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Maïthé Vallès-Bled, Vlaminck. Catalogue critique des peintures et céramiques de la période fauve, Paris, 2008, no. 148, illustrated in colour p. 335

NOTE: Many of Vlaminck's Fauve masterpieces were views of the river Seine, the tugboats, barges, yachts, bridges and towpaths seen at Charon, Bougival and Argenteuil. The present work was painted in 1906 on the banks of the Seine on the outskirts of Paris. Vlaminck rarely left this region during his Fauve years, preferring its surroundings along the river over the busy life of the capital, or landscapes of the south of France, favoured by Matisse, Derain and Braque. He drew inspiration for most of his early landscapes from this region, and later in his life proclaimed: 'All these places that I knew so well, the Seine with its strings of barges, the tugs with their plumes of smoke, the taverns in the suburbs, the color of the atmosphere, the sky with its great clouds and patches of sun, these were what I wanted to paint' (quoted in J. Freeman, The Fauve Landscape (exhibition catalogue), The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1990, p. 148).

Maïthé Vallès-Bled wrote about the present work: 'Most often titled either Landscape with a Boat or Landscape with a Barge, this work in fact depicts two tugboats in convoy though they cannot be seen immediately. The wreathes of thick white smoke that spread behind them merge with the tall trees lining the bank in an exuberant abstraction. The only vertical elements are provided by their trunks, brightened with long vermilion touches, that present a series of markers along the riverbank. A similarly abstract touch is seen in the strongly climbing, diagonal foreground. A weave of conflicting complementary colours counters the force of the contrast created in the background by the primaries red and blue' (M. Vallès-Bled, op. cit., p. 334). Executed in 1906, Remorqueurs sur la Seine exemplifies an important stylistic shift in Vlaminck's painting that took place during this period. While displaying a colouristic boldness characteristic of his Fauve works, particularly in the fierce red and pink hues in the foreground, the predominantly blue palette used in the upper half of the composition heralds Vlaminck's 'Cézannesque' period that would dominate in the years to come.

Sotheby's. Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale. London, New Bond Street. 03 Feb 09. www.sothebys.com Photo courtesy Sotheby's