Paysage de Provence
André Derain tried his hand at various subjects in his painting including landscapes. In 1930 he produced a series of landscapes while in the Var in the south of France, two of which are in the Musée de l’Orangerie (see also Paysage de Provence [Landscape in Provence], RF 1963-42).
They depict the same village perched on the top of a hill, viewed from quite nearby. This village dominates the desolate plain in compositions that are only broken by stark tree trunks. Here, the trees seem to be made of the same inanimate material as the houses and rocks heated by the sun. The apparent absence of any life creates a strange and slightly unsettling atmosphere.
In fact, the forms and the colours are muted in the sunlight as if seen through a heat haze. The leaves on the olives and other trees are merely sketched with broad brushstrokes. The structures of the low walls and the rocks are blurred, and the shapes do not stand out.
All that interests the painter here is how the different coloured surfaces come together: the ochres of the earth and houses, the greys of the walls and rocks, and the various greens of the vegetation. These landscapes are reminiscent of those produced by Camille Corot (1795-1876).