André Derain: the Wild Beast of Charing Cross


Charing Cross Bridge, London by Andre Derain (1906)


“A painting is merely a snapshot that endures", said the connoisseur.
“Tell me more”, said the novice.
“I will tell you more”, said the connoisseur. “André Derain, for instance”.
“He sounds French”, said the novice.
“A fauvist”, said the connoisseur. 
“Is that a wild beast?” said the novice.
“It is an art movement founded by the aforementioned André and his friend Henri Matisse”, said the connoisseur.
"Why did they call themselves fauvists?" asked the novice.
"They didn't, it was a derisive term given them by a low-minded critic who did not appreciate their use of unnatural colours", said the connoisseur.
"What did they paint?" said the novice.
"Among other things André Derain painted London", said the connoisseur.
"Why did he do that?" said the novice.
"In order to prove the impossibility of him not doing it", said the connoisseur.
"Really?" said the novice.
"No, not really", said the connoisseur.
"Ah, a joke", said the novice.
"A diversion", said the connoisseur.
"Where would we be without them?" said the novice.
"Quite", said the connoisseur.
"What's this painting here?" said the novice.
"Charing Cross Bridge, or if you prefer, Pont de Charing Cross", said the connoisseur.


Pont de Charing Cross by Andre Derain.


"The sky and the river are yellow", said the novice.
"You've got a good eye", said the connoisseur.
"And what's this one?" said the novice.
"This one? That's Charing Cross Bridge", said the connoisseur.


Charing Cross Bridge by Andre Derain (1905-6)


"I can't help noticing a predilection for Charing Cross Bridge", said the novice.
"You noticed, eh?" said the connoisseur.
"So what is this Charing Cross?" said the novice.
"It is a London thoroughfare close to Trafalgar Square and the present Houses of Parliament. It takes its name from the Eleanor Cross erected in the thirteenth century by King Edward I in memory of his wife Eleanor of Castile. Since the nineteenth century it has been the site of a railway station for the train to Dover and thence the ferry to the continent. In the little-known 1912 comic crime novel Cleek of Scotland Yard, Superintendant Maverick Narkom of the Yard, and Cleek's henchman Dollops, race the train in their limousine in an attempt to reach the night boat from Dover before the train arrives with His Majesty King Ulric of Mauravania and his gang of French 'Apache' gangsters, in the hope that they will lead them to the whereabouts of the master detective Cleek, whom they need to solve the riddle of a series of murders in the capital", said the connoisseur.
"I only asked", said the novice.
"I only told", said the connoisseur.
"So what's this one here? A bridge. Let me guess - Charing Cross Bridge", said the novice.
"No, this one's London Bridge", said the connoisseur.
"A variation on a theme, eh?" said the novice.
"Shut up", said the connoisseur.
"I'll shut up", said the novice.


London Bridge by Andre Derain (1906)



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