André Derain

The Pool of London


Not on display

André Derain 1880–1954
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 657 × 991 mm
frame: 794 × 1130 × 76 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1951

Display caption

This view of the Thames from London Bridge is one of four works painted by Derain, showing the same part of the river. At this time he was a leading member of the fauve group of painters in Paris. He had been sent to London by his dealer to update the popular Thames views painted by Claude Monet a few years earlier. Strongly-coloured and freely-handled, this painting is characteristic of fauvism in creating vivid effects through bold contrasts of colour.

Gallery label, February 2016

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Catalogue entry

André Derain 1880-1954

N06030 The Pool of London 1906

Not inscribed
Oil on canvas, 25 7/8 x 39 (65.5 x 99)
Chantrey Purchase 1951
Prov: With Ambroise Vollard, Paris (purchased from the artist); with Reid and Lefevre, London; Dr T.J. Honeyman, London and Glasgow, 1939; through Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London; Chantrey Trustees 1951
Exh: 'The Thames 1907'. Derain, Lefevre Gallery, London, December 1937 (10); Delacroix to Dufy, W. Scott and Son, Montreal, October 1938 (11); Loan Exhibition of English and French Paintings, Assembly Hall, St Helens, April-May 1939 (63); Morecambe and Heysham Art and Technical School, June 1939 (80); Loan Exhibition of French and English Paintings, Southampton Art Gallery, July-August 1939 (7); French Paintings of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Glasgow City Art Gallery, June 1943 (61); 40 Years of Modern Art, ICA, Academy Hall, London, February-March 1948 (21, repr. in illustrated supplement pl.1 in colour); XXV Biennale, Venice, June-October 1950 (Derain 13); Fauve Painting in France and Abroad, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London, March-April 1951 (10); RA, London, May-August 1952 (729); André Derain 1880-1954, Wildenstein Gallery, London, April-May 1957 (10); Derain before 1915, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, November 1961-January 1962 (works not numbered); Derain, RSA, Edinburgh, August-September 1967 (22, repr.); RA, London, September-November 1967 (22, repr.); The Impressionists in London, Hayward Gallery, London, January-March 1973 (56, repr.)
Lit: Ambroise Vollard, Recollections of a Picture Dealer (London 1936), p.201; Sunday Express Art Editor, 'A £10 Picture the Artist forgot is bought for £1500' in Sunday Express, 4 May 1952, p.8 repr.; Denys Sutton, 'André Derain: Art as Fate' in Encounter, V, October 1955, p.69
Repr: Art Vivant, No.54, 15 March 1927, p.208; Cahiers d'Art, 1929, p.178; Studio, CXLI, 1951, p.97 in colour; The Tate Gallery (London 1969), p.106 in colour

The Pool of London with Tower Bridge in the background; apparently painted from London Bridge.

Derain himself wrote to the President of the Royal Academy: 'The picture ... was painted at that point on the Thames about the month of April 1906 for I left my working materials on that boat. But in all fairness I must add that back in Paris after some damages caused by the voyage I was obliged to repair and retouch the canvas in several places' (letter of 25 January 1952).

Later he added (letter to the compiler, 15 May 1953): '... This picture is of 1906. It was one of a group of pictures which I made for M. Vollard who had sent me to London at that time so that I could make some paintings for him. After a stay in London he was very enthusiastic and wanted paintings inspired by the London atmosphere. He sent me in the hope of renewing completely at that date the expression which Claude Monet had so strikingly achieved which had made a very strong impression in Paris in the preceding years.

'The majority of these pictures were among the canvases which he kept by him. He sold a few but many remained and were dispersed in the sales made by his heirs.'

The paintings by Monet to which Derain referred were the views of the Thames executed during various visits to London from 1899 to 1904 and exhibited in Paris in May-June 1904. But whereas Monet painted series of canvases of the same three motifs - Waterloo Bridge, Charing Cross Bridge and the Houses of Parliament - Derain moved his pitch almost every time, working at a number of points along the Thames from the Houses of Parliament to as far east as Greenwich (though he also executed a few pictures in Regent Street and Hyde Park). They may be compared with the pictures which he painted of the Seine at Chatou in the years before in the company of Vlaminck.

This particular site, with its bustle of shipping, evidently had special attraction for him, as at least four other oils of the view across the Pool of London to Tower Bridge are known:

1. 'Tower Bridge' (66 x 96cm)
Repr. Georges Hilaire, Derain (Geneva 1959), pl.25

2. 'The Thames' (65 x 98cm)
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Repr. Hilaire, op. cit., pl.29

3. 'The Thames' (81 x 100cm)
Repr. Hilaire, op. cit., pl.26

4. 'On the Thames' (73 x 92cm)
Repr. Hilaire, op. cit., pl.28

A watercolour in the Descaves sale at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris, on 23 March 1919 (lot 16, repr.) as 'The Thames in London' was probably done as a sketch for the last-named of these oils. A further gouache of 'The Pool of London' was included in the Summer Exhibition at the O'Hana Gallery, London, in June-September 1964 (15, repr. in colour).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.167-8, reproduced p.167

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