Le Modèle blond
Derain painted numerous female nudes starting in the 1920s. His art dealer, Paul Guillaume, acquired several of them, some of which depict this same model and adopt nearly the same composition. The young woman is seated, her legs covered by a cloth. She takes on a thoughtful pose with her head in her right hand. She appears against a neutral background that is as pale as her skin, but with a slight green tint. The model is the whole subject of the painting. Her body, seen in three-quarter, takes up nearly all of the canvas and forms a harmonious oval shape. The dark curving contours give roundness to her figure. The model seems to be meditating. Her face shows little emotion but is full of warmth, which is accentuated by her blond, mossy hair and her pale pink lips.
Here Derain drew inspiration from 18th century female nudes by François Boucher (1703-1770) and Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), and Auguste Renoir's (1841-1919) bathers. More serenity than melancholy emerges from the painting.
Derain was thus demonstrating his pictorial studies, this painting being a good example of that research: "A painting is constructed for its light, and not just any light, just as much the lighting of the forms as the lighting of the substances, or even the light of a figurative atmosphere."