Raoul Dufy

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Raoul Dufy
Raoul Dufy, portrait photograph.jpg
Raoul Dufy, before 1927
Born(1877-06-03)3 June 1877
Le Havre, France
Died23 March 1953(1953-03-23) (aged 75)
Forcalquier, France
EducationÉcole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts
Known forPainting, drawing, design, printmaking
Notable workLa Fée Electricité (1937)
MovementFauvism, Impressionism, modernism, Cubism

Raoul Dufy (French: [ʁa.ul dy.fi]; 3 June 1877 – 23 March 1953) was a French Fauvist painter. He developed a colorful, decorative style that became fashionable for designs of ceramics and textile as well as decorative schemes for public buildings. He is noted for scenes of open-air social events. He was also a draftsman, printmaker, book illustrator, scenic designer, a designer of furniture and a planner of public spaces.


Le Cavalier arabe (Le Cavalier blanc) oil on canvas, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1914)

Early life[edit]

Dufy was born into a large family at Le Havre, in Normandy. He had a younger brother, Jean Dufy, who also became an artist. Dufy left school at the age of fourteen to work in a coffee-importing company. In 1895, when he was 18, he started taking evening classes in art at Le Havre's École des Beaux-Arts (municipal art school). The classes were taught by Charles Lhuillier, who forty years earlier had been a student of the French portrait painter Ingres. There Dufy met Raimond Lecourt [fr] and Othon Friesz, with whom he later shared a studio in Montmartre and to whom he remained a lifelong friend. During that period Dufy painted mostly Norman landscapes in watercolors.

In 1900, after a year of military service, Dufy won a scholarship to the École Nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where again he crossed paths with Othon Friesz. (He was there when Georges Braque also was studying.) He concentrated on improving his drawing skills. The impressionist landscape painters, such as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, influenced Dufy profoundly. His first exhibition (at the Exhibition of French Artists) took place in 1901. Introduced to Berthe Weill in 1902, Dufy showed his work in her gallery. Then he exhibited again in 1903 at the Salon des Indépendants. A boost to his confidence: the painter, Maurice Denis, bought one of his paintings. Dufy continued to paint, often in the vicinity of Le Havre, and, in particular, on the beach at Sainte-Adresse, made famous by Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet. In 1904, with his friend, Albert Marquet, he worked in Fecamp on the English Channel (La Manche).

Later years[edit]

Raoul Dufy, Regatta at Cowes, 1934, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Henri Matisse's Luxe, Calme et Volupté, which Dufy saw at the Salon des Indépendants in 1905 directed his interests towards Fauvism. Les Fauves (the wild beasts) emphasized bright color and bold contours in their work. Dufy's painting reflected this aesthetic until about 1909 when contact with the work of Paul Cézanne led him to adopt a somewhat subtler technique. However, it was not until 1920, after he had flirted briefly with yet another style, Cubism, that Dufy developed his own distinctive approach. It involved skeletal structures, arranged with foreshortened perspective, and the use of thin washes of color applied quickly, in a manner that came to be known as stenographic. Dufy's cheerful oils and watercolors depict events of the time period, including yachting scenes, sparkling views of the French Riviera, chic parties, and musical events. The optimistic, fashionably decorative, and illustrative nature of much of his work has meant that his output has been less highly valued critically than the works of artists who have addressed a wider range of social concerns.

Dufy completed one of the largest paintings ever contemplated, a huge and immensely popular ode to electricity, La Fée Electricité (oil on plywood)[1] for the 1937 Exposition Internationale in Paris.

Dufy also acquired a reputation as an illustrator and as a commercial artist. He painted murals for public buildings; he also produced a huge number of tapestries and ceramic designs. His plates appear in books by Guillaume Apollinaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, and André Gide.

In 1909, Raoul Dufy was commissioned by Paul Poiret to design stationery for the house, and after 1912[2] designed textile patterns for Bianchini-Ferier used in Poiret's[3] and Charvet's[4] garments.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Dufy exhibited at the annual Salon des Tuileries in Paris. By 1950, his hands were struck with rheumatoid arthritis and his ability to paint diminished, as he had to fasten the brush to his hand. In April he went to Boston to undergo an experimental treatment with cortisone and corticotropin, based on the work of Philip S. Hench. It proved successful, and some of his next works were dedicated to the doctors and researchers in the United States.[5][6] In 1952 he received the grand prize for painting in the 26th Venice Biennale. Dufy died at Forcalquier, France, on 23 March 1953, of intestinal bleeding, which was a likely result of his continuous treatment. He was buried near Matisse in the Cimiez Monastery Cemetery in Cimiez, a suburb of the city of Nice.


Among the public collections holding works by Raoul Dufy are:



  • Jean Cocteau, Bertrand Guégan (1892-1943); L'almanach de Cocagne pour l'an 1920-1922, Dédié aux vrais Gourmands Et aux Francs Buveurs[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Princeton University. "Edison turns up in Paris". Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  2. ^ Tourlonias, Anne (1998). Raoul Dufy, l'œuvre en soie (in French). Avignon: Barthelemy. p. 41. ISBN 978-2-87923-094-8. Le 1er mar 1912, Raoul Dufy et Charles Bianchini signent le contrat.
  3. ^ Hay, Susan (1999). From Paris to Providence, Fashion, Art and the Tirocchi Dressmakers' Shop, 1915–1947 ("Modernism in Fabric: Art and the Tirocchi Textiles"). Rhode Island School of Design.
  4. ^ Raoul Dufy: Paintings, Drawings, Illustrated Books, Mural Decorations, Aubusson Tapestries, Fabric Designs and Fabrics for Bianchini-Férier, Paul Poiret Dresses, Ceramics, Posters, Theatre Designs. London: Arts Council of Great Britain. 1983. p. 106.
  5. ^ Harris JC (2010-04-01). "LA cortisone". Archives of General Psychiatry. 67 (4): 317. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.29. ISSN 0003-990X. PMID 20368507.
  6. ^ health.com. "11 Famous People With Rheumatoid Arthritis". Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
  7. ^ McNay Art Museum (2014). "McNay Collection: Raoul Dufy". Mcnayart.org. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  8. ^ Notice WorldCat; sudoc; BnF. Engraved on wood and unpublished drawings of: Matisse, J. Marchand, R. Dufy, Sonia Lewitska, de Segonzac, Jean Émile Laboureur, Friesz, Marquet, Pierre Laprade, Signac, Louis Latapie, Suzanne Valadon, Henriette Tirman and others.´