Our Artists

Raoul Dufy

Raoul Dufy was a great colourist who left a considerable body of work behind him: two thousand paintings, twice as many watercolours and a large number of drawings, engravings, illustrations, ceramics, and printed fabric models. His relentless research into colour and light helped to create his unique style. The gaiety and joie de vivre that Dufy expresses in his works led to his being nick-named “the painter of joy”.


First influences

Raoul Dufy received an academic training at the School of Fine Arts in Le Havre, then at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. He was initially influenced by the impressionists, especially Eugène Boudin, also from Le Havre. From 1904-1905, fascinated by Matisse’s painting Luxe, calme et volupté, Dufy turned to fauvism. This was the period of Vieilles maisons sur le bassin de Honfleur (Old houses on Honfleur dock) and Nu rose au fauteuil vert ou Claudine de dos (Pink nude on a green chair or Rear view of Claudine) (1906). From fauvism, Raoul Dufy retained a search for simplicity, the refining of the subject and dazzling colours. From 1907 he was then inspired by Cézanne. He left for L'Estaque with George Braque to try and gain an understanding of the painter’s work. Under the influence of cubism, he painted Barques à Martigues (Boats in Martigues) and Bateaux à quai dans le port de Marseille (Boats moored in the port of Marseille) (1908).

The Dufy style

In 1913, the painting Le Jardin abandonné (The abandoned garden) contained the early signs of what made Dufy’s work so original: the dissociation of colour and drawing.
In watching the comings and goings of holidaymakers on the jetty in Trouville, he observed that the splashes of colour of an object passing quickly in front of the retina remain imprinted on it for longer than the outlines of the object itself. This was the origin of the encroachment of colour on the line in Dufy’s paintings. From 1920, these characteristics, which make his paintings so instantly recognisable, were introduced into works such as L'avenue du Bois de Boulogne (The Avenue du Bois de Boulogne) (1928) and Cérès au bord de la mer (Ceres by the sea) (1928). Dufy felt that colours had their own lives, going beyond the object. They are what give structure to his paintings, forming more or less broad areas on which the painter draws in the various components.

“La Fée Électricité”

In 1936-1937, in Paris, Raoul Dufy produced La Fée Électricité for the Electricity Pavilion at the International Exhibition. This allegory retraces the history of light, bringing together all the painter’s favourite themes: countryside, seaside, mythology, music, etc. ... The work, which was for a long time the largest painting in the world (624 m²) can now be seen at the Paris Museum of Modern Art.

He carried on working, despite a painful, debilitating illness. In 1952, he was awarded the Grand Prix at the Venice Biennial. In 1953, he settled in Forcalquier, where he died that year. Three months later, the Paris Museum of Modern Art organised his first great retrospective.


See all of Raoul Dufy’s work on: http://www.raoul-dufy.com/

Useful links

Official Raoul Dufy website
2008 retrospective at the Paris Museum of Modern Art

Fanny Guillon-LafailleGallery, an expert on Raoul Dufy

The works of Raoul Dufy in the ADAGP image bank

Raoul Dufy 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Prints and posters

Prints and posters The Bunch of Lilies Prints and posters Indoors with the Window Open

Nationality(ies) : French
Born on : 03/06/1877
Died on : 23/03/1953
Profile : Ceramist, Set designer, Designer, Engraver, Illustrator, Painter
Artistic current(s) : Cubism, Impressionism , Fauvism
Theme(s) covered : Art of living, Flowers - plants, Landscapes - Nature, Portraits - Characters