In the 1920s, Derain painted many nudes in which he experimented with different techniques. In the Reclining Nude, he decided upon a strong contrast between the light-coloured figure and the deliberately dark background, and at the same time uses strongly emphasised contours in brown that he reinforces with a play on shadows all around the body.
The nude is depicted before a fictional landscape that the painter has reduced to the essentials. Three horizontal bands provide structure to the background: an artificial-looking rock that the model leans against stands out from a dark ochre beach, the sea appears above as a practically uniform dark green band, then the sky appears as a band of blue-green with slight variations. The figure turned toward the viewer does not seem languid. On the contrary, the body seems rather tense and we are reminded more of a studio pose than the bodily abandon of rest.
Provenance: Paul Guillaume en 1929; Domenica Walter