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Le Havre, Grand Quai

Maurice de Vlaminck, French, 1876–1958
Oil on canvas
Le Havre, Haute-Normandie, Western Europe, France, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 214
32 x 39 1/2 in. (81.3 x 100.3 cm)
framed: 43 x 50 5/8 in. (109.2 x 128.6 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur D. May
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Object Number
Boats with orange and pale-yellow sails crowd the busy French port of Le Havre. The setting is the city’s wharf, named Grand Quai, ringed by a line of blue-roofed buildings. Critics accused Maurice de Vlaminck and his fellow artists of being “fauves,” or wild beasts, who shocked viewers by using unmixed oil paint straight from the tube. The red, yellow, and blue that animate the water are a good example of the strong, artificial colors that define Fauvism.
by 1910 -
Ambroise Vollard (1867-1939), Paris, France [1]

Galerie Bing, Paris, France [2]

by 1934 -
Ambroise Vollard (1867-1939), Paris, France [3]

- 1956
Noël Coward, Esq. (1899-1973), London, England; Jamaica [4]

1956/04/18 - 1956
Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, England, purchased from sale of the Coward collection, Sotheby's, London, April 18, 1956, lot no. 140 [5]

1956 - 1957
Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur D. May, Reno, NV, USA, purchased from Arthur Tooth & Sons [6]

1957 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur D. May [7]

[1] This work was included in a 1910 exhibition at Vollard's gallery ["Exposition de Peintures Faïences Décoratives de Vlaminck." Paris: A. Vollard, March 15-26, 1910, cat. 4].

[2] An undated label on the reverse of the painting refers to the Galerie Bing, which was active in Paris from 1925 until 1932.

[3] This painting was listed as from the collection of Monsieur A. Vollard in a 1934 publication [Cogniat, Raymond. "Les Étapes de l'art contemporain: Les Fauves: l'Atelier Gustave Moreau," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1934, cat. 160].

[4] Noël Coward was a famous British actor, playwright, and composer. He moved to Jamaica after World War II. It is possible that Coward purchased the painting in 1946, as there was a reference in Coward's diary on March 12, 1946 regarding his purchase of a work of art by Vlaminck. A diary entry from December 1955 states his intent to put his principal pictures up for sale [information provided by Lisa Foster, Noël Coward Archive, London, email dated July 30, 2004, SLAM document files]. In the spring of the following year the painting was sold in a sale of his collection (see note [5]).

[5] According to Isabel von Klitzing, of Sotheby's, London, Arthur Tooth & Sons purchased the painting at auction on April 18, 1956 [email dated May 17, 2002, SLAM document files; "Catalogue of Modern and French 19th Century Drawings, Paintings and Sculpture, Including an Important Painting of Le Havre by Vlaminck." Sotheby & Co., London, April 18, 1956, lot no. 140]. Arthur Tooth & Sons sold the painting later that month (see note [6]).

[6] Wilbur May purchased this work from Arthur Tooth & Sons in April 1956 [email dated November 19, 2003 from Simon Matthews, Arthur Tooth & Sons Archives, London, SLAM document files].

[7] Deed of gift from W. D. May dated December 8, 1957 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control and the Advisory Members of the Board of Control of the City Art Museum, December 12, 1957.
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