Raoul Dufy


Raoul Dufy was a brilliant draughtsman and an inspired colourist. He was very thoughtful and reasoning as well as sensual and intuitive. It was during his first job as a clerk for a firm of coffee importers that Dufy began to paint, taking evening classes at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. After a year of military service. Dufy received a scholarship from his birthplace, the town of Le Havre. He was then able to move to Paris, where he enrolled at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts under the tuition of Leon Bonnat. 1901 saw Dufy’s first exhibition at the Salon, which was followed two years later by a group show with Picasso and Matisse.

The early 1900s saw Dufy experiment with Fauvism, which did not receive a favourable response from the public, thus causing his dealer Blot to terminate their business relationship. This caused a temporary financial hardship for Dufy, but the situation was eased slightly with the help of Paul Poiret, with whom Dufy established a small textile business in 1908. Dufy was then able to rent a studio in Montmartre, which he was to keep throughout his life.

The 1920s saw Dufy diversify his creative talents into other areas; he became an active designer and illustrator as well as a painter. Dufy was also exhibiting around the world in Paris, Brussels, London and New York. He received many awards including the Carnegie Prize for his painting L’Avenue du Bois and the International Grand Prix for paintings at the Venice Biennale.

1938 saw his attacks of arthritis becoming increasingly severe. However, this did not prevent him from painting the Orchestra series from the Comedie Fran├žaise. Dufy came from a very musical family, and music to him was second only to painting.

Throughout his life many books were published on Dufy, but perhaps the most significant was by Jean Cocteau in 1948. Two years later, Dufy left for America to find treatment for his arthritis. When he returned to France in 1952, he settled in Forcalquier, hoping the climate would improve his condition. Sadly, however, Raoul Dufy died in March 1953 and he is buried in the cemetery of the Monastery in Cimiez.

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