André Derain

Madame Derain in a White Shawl


Not on display

André Derain 1880–1954
Original title
Madame Derain au châle blanc
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1955 × 975 mm
frame: 2125 × 1136 × 62 mm
Purchased 1982

Display caption

In this portrait of his wife Alice, Derain has adopted some of the compositional and stylistic devices of early Italian Renaissance art, which he greatly admired. The space inside the image is flattened and outline is emphasised at the expense of volume. The figure appears stiff and immobile, her face an impassive and generalised mask. At the same time, the stark contrast of the white shawl against the black dress can be seen as reflecting Derain's philosophical interest in the relationship of the spiritual and material worlds, symbolised for him by light and dark.

Gallery label, August 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

T03368 Mme Derain in a White Shawl c.1919–20

Oil on canvas 76 3/4 × 38 3/8 (1955 × 975)
Not inscribed
Purchased from the artist's son André Derain through Stoppenbach & Delestre Ltd. (Grant-in-Aid) 1982
Exh: Cinquante Tableaux Importants de André Derain, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1955 (19, repr.); Derain, Musée Cantini, Marseilles, June–September 1964 (44); Derain 1880–1954, Galerie Schmit, Paris, May–June 1976 (26, repr. in col.); Derain, Villa Medici, Rome, November 1976–January 1977 (26, repr.); André Derain, Grand Palais, Paris, February–April 1977 (30, repr.)
Lit: Denys Sutton, André Derain, 1959, p.158, repr. facing p.9; The Tate Gallery Illustrated Biennial Report 1982–84, 1984, p.43 in col.

A portrait of the artist's wife Alice, who told Denys Sutton that it was painted about 1919–20. It is the last of a small series of full-length portraits of a seated figure with an open window in the background which began with the group portrait ‘Saturday’ executed in 1911–12. The French title of this work is ‘Madame Derain au Châle blanc’.

Various pentimenti show beyond any doubt that this picture was painted over an entirely different composition representing a full-length standing figure. An old photograph of Derain's studio taken about 1914, which has been provided by Robert Stoppenbach, shows what appears to be the first state hanging on the wall: a very rigid, frontal study of a woman in a light-coloured (possibly white) dress, who occupies almost the full height of the picture, with her head right at the top, and her shoes protruding from beneath her dress at the very bottom. The painting has not yet been X-rayed, but the identification seems fairly certain.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

You might like

In the shop