Henri Matisse’s portrait of fellow artist André Derain, created in 1905, is a representative example of his fauvist period. During this time, Matisse and Derain often painted each other’s portraits under different types of situations and moods. The portrait captures the sensation of sunlight striking the sitter’s face while casting a heavy shadow down one side using vivid, apparently arbitrary colors.
Matisse’s mastery of color is evident in this work. The use of vibrant colors in portraying the subject serves to communicate emotions associated with the scene. Matisse painted this particular piece while he and Derain were staying at Collioure in the south of France where they found inspiration from their surroundings.
The portrait was created before the birth of Fauvism, but its important features are an antecedent for that movement. This painting shows how color has been used as a tool to capture feelings or express mood more than just a representation of reality or an adherence to representational colours. Today, you can see it among other Fauvist works at Tate Gallery in London where it remains one of Matisse’s most prized portraits.