Le Beau Modèle
Derain painted a series of seated nudes starting in 1920 and developed this theme in his work. In 1928, he admitted to one of his friends that at the time he was spending five to six months per year drawing nudes, totalling three to four drawings per day, in order to find a "position". It was the search for form and harmony that was keeping him busy.
This painting is a fine example of his studies. The professional model poses in the painter's studio on a table or bench covered with a draped cloth. Her bent left arm and right leg contrast with the vertical line of her back.
The painting bathes in soft light accentuated by delicate, airy brushwork. Lit from the right, the model's body stands out against the dark background but is enlivened with contrasts of light and dark. Only a few details are emphasised, like the nose and the folds of the stomach, whereas there are no contours outlining her body. The draped cloth in shifting tones of grey, which is quite refined, gives off reflections that bring life to the painting.
The model's face is obscured by her bent arm and her hair, but we can just make out her slight smile full of warmth. The young woman posed at least once more for Derain, who used this demeanour in another one of his paintings.
Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter