In many ways, this is a classic seaside scene, elevated to the status of a great artwork thanks to the expressionist use of surprising colours and energetic lines.
Early hints of Cubism
In later years, Braque would become known (alongside the painter Pablo Picasso) as one of the leading figures in the Cubist movement. Paintings such as 'Woman with a Mandolin' and 'Head of a Woman' have become classic cubist works.
These Cubist paintings were painted five to ten years after Yellow Seacoast, however it is definitely worth while considering Yellow Seacoast in the context of Braque's later works. Look closely at the boats in Yellow Seacoast, for example, and you can see that Braque has divided them up into geometric, oblong shapes.
This division suggests the planks of wood that the boats are made of, but it might also constitute Braque starting to think in a Cubist way about how to depict the world.
Other landscape paintings by Braque
Yellow Seacoast is not the only landscape painting that Braque created. Several other paintings come to mind when we consider Yellow Seacoast.
For example, Landscape at La Ciotat and The House Behind the Trees are two works by Braque that share with Yellow Seacoast a keen, vivid Expressionist use of colour.
From these works, and from Yellow Seacoast of course, we can instantly see that Braque was fascinated by the potential for art to represent the world in a new and exciting way. Harbours were a particular favourite topic of Braque at this time.
For instance, 1906 was also the year when he painted a celebrated picture of the harbour at Estaque. This painting bears many similarities to Yellow Seacoast, and not least the fascination with form and the buried geometrical awareness that can be seen in the way that Braque depicts the prows of the ships in the harbour.
It might be said that Braque's use of colour here demonstrates the way in which he was influenced by Expressionist painters.
For example, the cacophany of colours in the background of the painting, which nevertheless work together to create a lively and engaging harmony, bear no small resemblance to the way in which Vincent Van Gogh applied his paints.
Van Gogh often used quick, energetic lines of colour, overlaid with lines of contrasting colours, to create a sense of depth in a wheat field, a starry sky or a line of trees. It might be said that Braque is doing something similar with the way that he handles the paint in the background of Yellow Seacoast.
Braque and Fauvism
Yellow Seacoast is often described as a work of Fauvism. Fauvism comes from the French word for beast and a Fauvist artwork was seen by many people to be one which was savagely colourful and not civilised. The Fauvists took this term of abuse and reclaimed it, using it as the name for what as now become known as one of the world's most celebrated artistic movements.
The artists known as 'Les Fauves' (i.e. 'the beasts' or 'the wild beasts') lived and/ or worked in Braques' native France in the early twentieth century. Braques, who was born in 1883 and died in 1963, lived through the heyday of Fauvism.
Henri Matisse was a key leader of the Fauvist movement, as was Andre Derain. Fauvism was a very definite movement: there were three designated Fauvist exhibitions in France between 1904 and 1908. After 1908, the Fauvist movement is said to have ended, as Fauvist figures began to experiment with different styles of painting.
Georges Braque is well known to be a Fauvist, and he worked alongside Carmoin, Dufy, Marquet, Matisse and Derain as well as other Fauvists, as part of the French Fauvist movement.
Fauvism's hallmark was amplifying colours and making them richer than they are in real life. A pale red leaf might become a fiery red colour in a Fauvist painting, whilst a splash of watery yellow sunset on the sea would become a strong, bold yellow.
This technique is definitely in evidence in Georges Braque's Yellow Seacoast.
From Fauvism to Cubism
When the Fauvist movement ended (or, at least stopped exhibiting), Braque went to work in partnership with Picasso creating Cubist paintings.
Yellow Seacoast may be said to be situated on the cusp of Braque's Fauvism even whilst it foreshadows his Cubism. Moreover, we may also be able to see some hints of Expressionist influence in the way in which Braque handles the paint on the canvas.
Look deeper in to Yellow Seacoast and you can see the history of Braque's artistic life laid out for you on the canvas.