Georges Braque
(Argenteuil-sur-Seine, 1882-1963, Paris)
Ship at Le Havre, ca. 1905
Oil on canvas, 54 x 65 cm
Signed lower right: G. Braque

It is helpful to realize that the painter of this harbour scene was born in the Argenteuil of the Impressionists on the Seine and that he had run about the harbour of Le Havre at the age of eight; all this might have contributed to this astonishing performance of a twenty-three-year-old artist. The small boat in front, which is attached to the large moored sailing-ship, clearly stems from the Seine pictures of a Monet from Argenteuil, which Braque knew well from the Caillebotte Collection in the Luxembourg. The fearless way in which he approaches the motive can be explained from his familiarity with the life of a seaport. Three years earlier, Braque had painted a similar, smaller picture at the same spot by the harbour, which is an entirely Impressionistic piece of work. In the present painting, the decisive step that leads to mastery is taken, as shown by the boldness of the composition and the luminous brilliance of the colours. The picture is a magnificent farewell to Impressionism, and a promising announcement of Fauvism; the palette of bright blue, orange and ochre shades that is so characteristic of the "fauve" Braque has here been discovered.