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In his work of this period Derain explored the traditions of past art. The unusual size and monumental quality of this painting can be seen as reflecting his interest in seventeenth-century Baroque still lifes. Especially notable, however, are the stark contrasts of black and white and the inclusion of drawing instruments, symbols of the artist's craft. These speak of Derain's belief that the definition of lit surfaces was central to drawing, and that light was a physical manifestation of the spirit. He once wrote, 'One constructs a painting with light ... light defines the dimensions of adjacent surfaces and directs the rhythm of their relationship.'

August 2004