Maurice de Vlaminck
(Paris, 1876-1958, Rueil-la-Gadelière)
The Paper Mill, Nanterre, 1904
Oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm
Signed with monogram lower right: M de V
Vallès-Bled 16
Although Vlaminck boasted that he never entered the Louvre, that he despised the artistic tradition and followed only his instinct, his "Factory" is, even so, very much in the tradition. As early as 1870, one generation before him, Cézanne had painted a "Factory Before the Mont de Cengle", and we might almost assume that Vlaminck was familiar with it, since the influence is more than obvious. Cézanne, too, had not failed in his landscapes of L’Estaque to incorporate the high smoke-stacks in the picture as structural elements. The "urban dreariness" had long since been discovered; Signac had painted the gasometers of Clichy in 1886 and van Gogh the bridges of Asnières in 1887, to mention only these two examples.
The Bührle Collection's bleak industrial landscape by the Seine with the red, smoking stack and the red roofs behind the tawny foreground, in addition to the blue of water and sky, is static in effect rather than turbulent, as we might expect from the Fauve Vlaminck; the picture is conceived in breadth with the scene parallel to the surface, this being reinforced by the horizontal brush-work. The painter is only a beginner here, as shown by the otherwise unusual monogram. There is represented a factory on the Seine opposite Chatou, in Nanterre, which Vlaminck painted again in 1906.