Irishman in Paris discovers important French nude

An André Derain bought for a few thousand euro, now sold for €120,000

An Irish businessman living in Paris has come in for a financial windfall of €120,000 after discovering a painting by an important French artist.

The man, who does not wish to be identified, bought the painting of a female nude in Paris 10 years ago for a few thousand euro.

He sold it earlier this month at Sheppard's auctioneers in Durrow, Co Laois where it made €120,000.

He had seen it hanging in an apartment in the 7eme arrondissement and persuaded the owner to sell it. The man recalls seeing the portrait for the first time: “On entering the room, I knew that this was a great portrait by a great artist”. The painting was unsigned but he had a hunch it “was almost certainly the work of a French post-Impressionist”.


Having acquired the picture he subsequently embarked on years of "on-off, stop-start research" and was rewarded with some very good news. The painting turned out to be the work of André Derain – a leading French artist of the early 20th century. Derain (1880-1954) was a co-founder, with Henri Matisse, of the art movement known as Fauvism. Derain and Matisse worked together during the summer of 1905 in the Languedoc village of Collioure in south-west France and later that year displayed their new paintings at a salon in Paris. A famous critic, Louis Vauxcelles, appalled by their lurid work, dubbed the pair "les Fauves" (wild beasts) and thus launched the soi-disant Fauvist art movement. The same critic reputedly later coined the term Cubism to describe another French-led art movement.

Proven provenance

The painting, believed to date from 1925, was given the title

Le Modèle

and consigned to Sheppard’s auction. The auctioneer said the vendor had received the all-important certificate of authenticity from the Comité Derain (the official body in charge of the artist’s estate) and the painting will be included in the forthcoming, revised

Catalogue Raisonné

(official list of paintings) of Derain’s work.

The model is most probably Rogi André (1905-1970), who posed frequently for Derain and Picasso.

Asked why the vendor shipped a French painting back to Ireland to be sold here rather than in Paris, Sheppard’s said that the man’s family had been clients of the auction house in Durrow, Co Laois in the past. Ironically, the buyer at auction was an unnamed bidder in Paris and the painting has now been shipped back to France.

Derain painted landscapes, still-lifes and nudes and many of his paintings are now in museums around the world including London, New York, Washington DC and Paris (at the Musée de l'Orangerie). The highest price achieved for a painting by Derain at auction was in June, 2010 at Sotheby's, London where Arbres à Collioure, an oil-on-canvas which had been hidden away in a bank vault for decades, sold for €19. 5 million.