From yellow to pastel shades of purple and green, Le Remorqueur (The Tugboat) by the French artist Auguste Herbin (1882-1960) is an ode to colour. The work from 1907 is a gift to the Kunstmuseum from a private collector. It is now rare for Dutch museums to acquire works of classical modernism. We are therefore very proud to show how Le Remorqueur occupies a distinguished place in our collection by presenting it this autumn among works by Herbin’s contemporaries.
Auguste Herbin made an important contribution to the development of French modernism in the early twentieth century. His early work was indebted to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, but from 1906 he was inspired by the vivid, ‘wild’ use of colour of Henri Matisse and his fellow Fauves. With strong lines and large blocks of bright contrasting colours, Le Remorqueur is a fine example of Herbin’s Fauvist period.
Showing Le Remorqueur alongside the work of Herbin’s friends and contemporaries provides an overview of the rapid and exciting developments in French art in the early twentieth century. Like his fellow artists, Herbin continued to reinvent himself. After Fauvism, he moved on to Cubism, befriending the movement’s leading artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Metzinger and Fernand Léger, whose work will also be on display.
Le Remorqueur is an important addition to the collection of French modern art that Kunstmuseum Den Haag has assembled over more than a hundred years. In 1919, under the leadership of the then director Hendrik van Gelder, the chief curator Gerhardus Knuttel began to focus more on contemporary art and acquired a large number of works by artists working in Paris, including Fernand Léger, Albert Marquet and Pablo Picasso. These artworks set the tone for building the rest of the collection and are among the highlights for visitors to the Kunstmuseum today.
Private collectors have played a major role in the creation of the museum’s collection. And they continue to make it possible for the museum to enrich the collection with new works. For example, the Kunstmuseum’s world-famous collection of paintings by Piet Mondrian was acquired in 1971 through a bequest of the collector Salomon Slijper. The gift of Le Remorqueur represents a significant enrichment of the collections of both the museum and the nation.