In this cityscape Derain rendered the customary gray of the London sky with dramatic color. In the summer of 1905 he developed this bright Fauvist palette while painting alongside his elder peer Henri Matisse in Collioure, France. There the two artists produced their most radical canvases to date—paintings purged of shadows and filled with the imaginative, unbridled colors also seen here. When several of these works were exhibited in Paris that fall, the public and critics found the palette startling and ridiculed their efforts. As Derain later recalled, “Fauvism was our ordeal by fire.... It was the era of photography. This may have influenced us, and played a part in our reaction against anything resembling a snapshot of life. No matter how far we moved away from things ... it was never far enough. Colors became charges of dynamite.”
Gallery label from Cézanne to Picasso: Paintings from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection, July 17–August 31, 2009.