Having just come across Derain on Facebook, I was reminded of my vacations in London, so thought I’d post some Derain paintings to create a pleasant stroll along the River Thames of Derain’s London, over a century ago.
Comfortable shoes are a MUST - it’s a long walk!
We start just downriver from the iconic London landmark - Tower Bridge. The river here is lined with wharves and warehouses - today they are trendy urban apartments for the City bankers across the river, working in London’s financial district, in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The Fauvist artist, Andre Derain, produced a series of London paintings in 1906 -1907. It’s believed that the works were actually completed in Paris, not London, based on the evidence of his sketch-books that subsequently came to light.
Whether the the paintings were executed in London or, later, in Paris - the sheer volume of paintings from the period suggests he was totally absorbed in his work as he painted and sketched.
You can still visit the bridge today, at Lake Havaso City on the Colorado River.
It was disassembled and sold by the British in 1968!
Whether he put brush to canvas in Paris, London, or both for the series, his “Fauvist” style of painting - using blocks of non-naturalistic color and strong brushwork - combines in large scale canvasses to create a view of London that captures the energy of a city that was, at that time, the center of world commerce. In fact, a city from which an empire extended, controlling one third of the world’s population.
His main reason for visiting London was to paint a series to rival Claude Monet, who had exhibited his London view paintings two years earlier. The contrast with Monet’s more muted style is glaring.
Personally I prefer the almost psychedelic feel of Andre Derain’s paintings above those of Claude Monet. This has more to do with my interior decor / interior design preferences than anything else. Reproductions of Andre Derain paintings work just as well with urban, contemporary interior design as with more classical and “New England” styles.
Blackfriars Bridge, 1906
Fauvism was meant a new style of painting - bold and vibrant. It’s as if he painted the 1960s; only sixty years before the “swinging sixties”.
Waterloo Bridge, 1906
Hungerford Bridge at Charing Cross, 1906
The London paintings were never exhibited as a group during his lifetime, although they have visited London as such since, being exhibited at Somerset House in 2006.
Here it’s time for a rest! Continue Derain’s journey through London, along Victoria Embankment, then north, to Hyde Park and Regent Street with me later.