Renowned French painter, Maurice de Vlaminck (April 4, 1876 – October 11, 1958) was a multifaceted artist, who was born in a musicians’ family in Paris. Shortly after beginning his career as a violinist and a professional cyclist, he had a stint with the military. Following this, he started with painting and writing. Vincent Van Gogh was the primary influence on his initial style of painting. Vlaminck’s early works belonged to the ‘Impressionist’ genre. He briefly experimented with ‘Cubism,’ and after trying his hands with ‘Post-Fauvism’ & ‘Realism,’ he developed an ‘Expressionist’ style of painting. Among his leading works is “The River Seine at Chatou,” created in the year 1906.
“The River Seine at Chatou,” by Maurice is a work of oil paint on 82.6 cm x 101.9 cm canvas. It currently forms a part of the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA. From the year 1901 onwards, Vlaminck was in close association with Henry Matisse, Claude Monet, and Andre Derain. Around the year 1906, was the time when Matisse and Derain were nurturing ‘Fauvism’ in its nascent stage. Therefore, ‘Fauvism’ had a telling impact on Maurice’s art. This masterwork, “The River Seine at Chatou,” was a prominent forerunner of ‘Fauvism,’ with its bold, but small brushstrokes. He made a generous use of pure and deep, predominantly, primary colors – red, blue, and yellow. However, it features color blends and graded tones, more than the later ‘Fauvist’ works.
Chatou was a small village, situated at the bank of River Seine, near Paris that caught the fancy of many painters of those times. There is a narrow patch of land situated in the waters of The Seine, known as Île de Chatou. It was likely the point from where Maurice de Vlaminck captured the view for “The River Seine at Chatou.” The river in the center covers almost one-third of the frame. On the right side, orange-red trees are portrayed on the barely visible yellow patch of Île de Chatou. In the front, there is a small yellow mast boat, alongside the visible tip of a red, perhaps, a bigger boat. The red-roofed huts are visible towards the interior of the painting, farther away from the viewer. Their view is partially covered by a dark blue and a red boat of medium size. The sky is set in the dramatic ‘Fauvist’ paints of blue, white, pink, and gray. Its reflection in the waters below gives them its own flavor. Overall, the subject of “The River Seine at Chatou” is a common scene at the village, imbued with the maverick beauty of ‘Fauvism!’