The term "fauvism" was coined in 1905 when a critic used "wild beasts" ("les fauves") to describe a group of artists who employed pure, nonrealistic color and aggressive brushwork. Vlaminck, along with Henri Matisse and André Derain, were the major proponents of this movement. They sought to rejuvenate painting and to distinguish themselves from the legacy of Impressionism and Postimpressionism, by regarding nature not as the subject of their art but as a vehicle for the release of their imagination.
"Bougival" is one of the finest compositions Vlaminck painting during his brief yet prolific period as a fauve painter. It is characterized by a strong compositional balance, harmony of vibrant colors, and confident placement of brushstrokes. Following the French classical tradition of landscape painting, Vlaminck organized the canvas into three zones. Vibrant yellows and reds, highlighted by dashes of pink, animate the foreground, while deeper greens, blues, and yellows dominate the middle of the picture.
In the background, a softer blend of colors creates an impression of deeper spatial recession in the river and sky. While the palette indicates his reverence for Vincent van Gogh's emotional use of color, Vlaminck's compositional format reflects his awareness of Paul Cézanne's classically structured landscapes. Fusing these two contradictory traditions, Vlaminck translated the environs of Bougival into an expressive vision that allows us to feel the immediacy of his response to the landscape.