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A Refuge for Genius
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In Monet’s Footsteps
An American in London
Lesser-known, Home-grown
Self-guided walk - Part 1
Self-guided walk - Part 2
Self-guided walk - Part 3
Self-guided walk - Part 4
Self-guided walk - Part 5
Self-guided walk - Part 6
Self-guided walk - Part 7
Useful Information
SISLEY by the Thames
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André Derain (1880–1954)
The first few paintings in Monet’s Thames series were exhibited by Durand-Ruel in New York in 1902 and this was followed by a much larger show at his gallery in Paris in 1904 and later that year in Berlin. The paintings were received with considerable critical acclaim and ever mindful of a commercial opportunity, the dealer Ambroise Vollard urged his young protégé, André Derain to visit London to try and emulate the Impressionist master with a rival series of cityscapes.

Derain’s first visit to London was in 1906 and this followed his summer of wild colour experiments with Henri Matisse at Collioure in southwest France which led them to be called ‘the wild beasts’ or Fauves. The movement was short-lived but crucial in the development of modern art in the twentieth century. Although Derain shared with Monet the same motifs along the banks of the Thames, that is just about where the similarities end. Where Monet was concerned with capturing the fluid and fleeting effects of atmosphere on the landscape, Derain was striving to find a new visual language to express aspects of universal truth. This might best be illustrated by quoting from a letter he sent to his friend and colleague Maurice Vlaminck: “Where Monet is concerned, I adore him despite everything, precisely because of his error, which offers me a precious lesson. Isn’t he right, in the end, with his fugitve and non-lasting colour, to render the natural impression which is only an impression and which does not last ...? As for me, I am seeking something else: what there is in nature, on the contrary, that is fixed, eternal, complex.”
It is interesting to note that Vlaminck also made a trip to London in 1911 and painted along the riverbank and his Pont de Londres shares almost the same motif as Derain’sLondon Bridge (see self-guided walk, Part 7) but by this time his palette of vibrant colours had moderated to more subdued tones.

After a second visit to London in 1906, Derain returned the following year to continue work on his series. Later that year he sold thirty paintings to Vollard but there was no grand exhibition as was originally planned. Derain was still at a formative stage of his career and, although he was not entirely comfortable as a Frenchman in the midst of a city of strangers, this period was undoubtedly important and his Thames pictures, some of the most dazzling examples of the Fauve genre, are testimony to this. He was exposed to a variety of influences, be that at the ethnographic department of the British Museum where he was fascinated by primitive masks from Africa and Oceania or to the work of Turner at the National Gallery. Derain may have started his London experience by following in the footsteps of Monet but he was undoubtedly treading his own path on a creative journey that lasted another half century until his death in 1954.

Henri Le Sidaner (1862–1939)
Born in Mauritius to French parents Le Sidaner studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts and later settled at the Etaples art colony which was popular with artists from North America, Britain as well as fellow French painters, including his childhood friend Eugène Chigot. His style can broadly be described as Neo-impressionist using a delicate harmonious palette and he was influenced by George Seurat and other members of the group called Les Vingt in Belgium. People very rarely appear in his pictures and C. Mauclaire commented, “He considered that the silent harmony of things is enough to evoke the presence of those who live among them. Indeed, such presences are felt throughout his works. Deserted they may be, but never empty”. He lived in Bruges between 1899 and 1900 and finally settled in Gerberoy in north west France but was widely travelled in Europe and beyond. The footsteps of Monet that le Sidaner followed were not so much in London as an artist, although he did make several paintings in the city, but more in the creation of a garden inspired by Monet’s domain at Giverny. This became the subject of many of his later works and can still be visited today. Interestingly, Le Sidaner also followed in the footsteps of Alfred Sisley when he created several paintings of Hampton Court Palace whilst staying at nearby Hampton Wick.

By clicking on most of the images you will be taken directly to the appropriate website to view the painting at a better resolution.