André Derain (1880 Chatou - 1954 Garches)
1904 - 1905
Oil on canvas ; signed "aDerain" at the lower right ; 56.5 x 44.7 cm
Paris, Ambroise Vollard collection ; Paris, Marcel Demierre collection ; Enghien, Hôtel des Ventes, 21st June 1989 ; London, Sotheby's, 1st March 2018.
Fauves and Expressionists (New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, 1968) ; Peintres français (Geneva, Galerie des Théâtres, 1969) ; André Derain (Tokyo, Takashimaya Art Gallery, 1981).
Michel Kellerman, André Derain : catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, vol. I, Paris, Éditions Galerie Schmit, 1992, no. 264.
The exhibition catalogue Derain 1904-1914 at the Centre Pompidou opened with a quote from the legendary collector Gertrude Stein, who saw André Derain as "the Christopher Columbus of modern art", the discoverer of a pre-Cubist continent which Braque and Picasso would then set out to conquer. In fact, and it was John Golding who explained it best in his landmark book Cubism: A History and an Analysis, Derain acted as a crucial link between first Cézanne, then "primitive” art, and modern art.
The same exhibition catalogue underlined the "sometimes inaccurate" dating of the catalogue raisonné which dates the Still Life with a Blue Pitcher "around 1901", whereas it has been exhibited twice as dated 1904-1905 and once as dated 1907. Based on style, we suggest to keep the date 1904-1905.
In September 1904, Derain, aged 24, returned from military service and dedicated himself completely to painting. At the Salon d'Automne, in October-November, 31 paintings by Cézanne were exhibited, most of which belonging to Ambroise Vollard, the art dealer and collector who was the first owner of our painting. Roger Marx, an eminent critic of the time and the first apostle of the Moderns, wrote in La Gazette des Beaux-Arts that Cézanne "gives to fruits, flowers, and everyday objects a reality, an extra-ordinary presence ; here, the gifts of the colorist reach such an intensity of expression that painting seems never to have better expressed the vibrant power of human genius".
This lesson was superbly echoed by Derain, who added to it the same audacity which would, the following year, at the same Salon d'Automne, earn him and others the label "Fauve": the exuberance of the color, the virulence of the line.
The painting is very well preserved and its radicality still amazes as on the first day. Once in the hands of the legendary dealer Ambroise Vollard, it is a fascinating meditation on painting in the eyes of a young man about to devote his whole life to art.