Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)

Le port du Havre

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
Le port du Havre
signed 'Raoul Dufy' (lower right)
oil on canvas
21¼ x 25½ in. (54 x 64.7 cm.)
Painted circa 1905-1906
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 3 March 1927, lot 82.
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 18 November 1989, lot 79.
Galerie Daniel Malingue, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, December 1995.
M. Berr de Turique, Raoul Dufy, Paris, 1930, p. 150 (illustrated).
M. Laffaille, Raoul Dufy, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Geneva, 1972, vol. I, p. 113, no. 121 (illustrated).
Nancy, Musée des beaux-arts, Raoul Dufy, June-September 1956, no. 18.
Hamburg, Kunstverein and Essen, Museum Folkwang, Raoul Dufy, December 1967-April 1968, no. 49 (illustrated in color, pl. 12).
Tokyo, Musée de Bunkamura; Musée Michido de Kasama; Himeji City Museum of Art and Toyohashi City Art Museum, Raoul Dufy, mer et musique avec une évocation de Paris, September 1994-March 1995, p. 160, no. 35 (illustrated in color, p. 59).

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David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

Towards the end of his life, Raoul Dufy wistfully recalled his early, and abiding, preoccupations: "My youth was cradled by music and the sea" (quoted in D. Perez-Tibi, Dufy, New York, 1989, p. 12). Indeed, Dufy grew up and created many of his earliest pictures by the sea, in his native city of Le Havre and its environs. The sights of the bustling port city, as well as the promenade and strand at nearby Saint-Adresse, were instrumental in the development of his celebrated paintings of 1905-1906. These pictures marked his first full-fledged achievement as a modernist, and his debut as a colorist of exceptional daring and skill.

Although aware of its limitations, until 1905 Dufy remained faithful to Impressionism. It was only after seeing Henri Matisse's Luxe, Calme et Volupté at the Salon d'Automne that the young artist was converted to the vivid, planar Fauve style. Before this picture, "Impressionist realism lost all its charm...I immediately understood the mechanics of the new painting" (ibid., p. 19).

Dufy, having visited Druet's major exhibition of Paul Signac's work in December 1904, was already familiar with the technique of divisionism. "What I wanted to do, was to carry my investigation further than those of the Impressionists. The Impressionists looked for the inter-relationships of flecks and patches of colour, and that in itself was good. Now, however, we had something more than the satisfaction of vision alone; we needed to create the world of unseen things" (the artist quoted in M. Brion, Raoul Dufy, Paintings and Watercolors, New York, 1958, p. 9). John Elderfield comments on the time Dufy, accompanied by Marquet, worked on the Channel coast during 1905 and the summer of 1905 at Trouville, Honfleur, Sainte-Adresse and Le Havre: "When Dufy looked to the ocean for his subjects his spatially floating colorism was further developed in the isolated arcs, curves and even circles he began to use. These led through the marines and landscapes of 1907 to some remarkable café scenes of 1908" (The Wild Beasts, Fauvism and its Affinities, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1976, p. 78).

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