André DERAIN, Le Cavalier au cheval blanc [Knight on a white horse] Enlarge 1 /1

On display on Level 2


France 1880 – 1954

Le Cavalier au cheval blanc [Knight on a white horse] c.1905 Place made: Paris, Île-de-France, Ville de Paris department, France
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas

Primary Insc: No inscriptions
Secondary Insc: estate stamp in l.l. "derain"
Dimensions: image 45.9 h x 37.9 w cm framed (overall) 646 h x 568 w x 70 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1985
Accession No: NGA 85.459
Subject: Art style: Fauve
  • with the artist at his death in 1954;
  • with Galerie Motte, Geneva;
  • Marcelle Meyer, Brussels;
  • with Arnold Herstand & Co., New York, in 1985;
  • bought through Lynn G. Epsteen, New York, by the Australian National Gallery, March 1985

Undated and previously unpublished, this painting will be ascribed the approximate date 1904-05 in the forthcoming catalogue of Derain's paintings being prepared by Michel Kellermann.1

The work is painted in oil on a rough, unprimed canvas of jute consistency, the same medium which Derain employed in The dance 1905-06 (Josefowitz Collection), perhaps in imitation of some of the similarly painted late works of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). Certainly the influence of Gauguin is apparent in this painting, both in its subject of an arcadian landscape complete with amphora-carrying figure, and in its style of bold, flat surfaces and bright, nondescriptive colour. This debt to Gauguin, which becomes more pronounced in the work of both Derain and Matisse following their encounter with the collection of Gauguin's paintings in the custody of Georges-Daniel de Montfried in the summer of 1905, might suggest a slightly later date for the painting than that presently contemplated by Kellermann.

While registering the impact of Gauguin's South Seas works, this painting also invokes the pastoral landscapes of the European tradition and is a reminder that throughout his years as a Fauve, Derain continued to sketch from paintings in the Louvre.2

Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.94.

  1. Michel Kellermann, correspondence with the Gallery, 3 October 1986.
  2. Derain's drawings after paintings by titian, Tintoretto, Rubens, Delacroix and others in the Louvre are contained in his sketchbook, now held at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris. The content of the sketchbook has been discussed by B. Dorival, 'Un Album de Derain au Musée National d'Art Moderne', Le Revue du Louvre, nos 4-5, 1969, pp.257-68, and by Michael Parke-Taylor, 'André Derain: Les Copies de l'Album Fauve', Cahiers du Musée National d'Art Moderne, no. 5, 1980, pp.363-77.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra