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

Régates à Cowes

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
Régates à Cowes
signed 'Raoul Dufy' (lower left)
oil on canvas
51 1/2 x 64 in. (130.5 x 162.3 cm.)
Painted in 1930-1934
Louis Carré, Paris & New York, by whom acquired directly from the artist, and thence by descent.
Private collection, by whom acquired from the above, by 2011.
A. Jakovsky, Le Salon des Tuileries, Paris, 22 June 1946 (illustrated).
M. Gauthier, Raoul Dufy, Paris, 1949, pl. 10 (illustrated; titled 'Régates' and dated '1919').
Time Magazine, New York, vol. LV, no. 26, 26 June 1950, p. 54 (illustrated).
B. Dorival, 'Fauves: The Wild Beasts Tamed', in Art News Annual, no. XXII, 1952-1953, New York, p. 23 (illustrated).
J. Cassou, M. Berr de Turique & Collette, 'Hommage à Raoul Dufy', in L'Amour de l'Art, no. 76-78, Paris, 1953, p. 23 (illustrated).
J. Lassaigne, 'Dufy', in Le Goût de notre Temps, Geneva, 1954, p. 23 (illustrated).
J. Lassaigne, Dufy, étude biographique et critique, Geneva, 1954, p. 58.
R. B. Sussan & M. Brion, Raoul Dufy, Paintings and Watercolours, London, 1958, no. 58, p. 111 (illustrated pl. 58; dated '1934').
M. Laffaille, Raoul Dufy, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, vol. II, Geneva, 1973, no. 903, p. 375 (illustrated).
H. Takahashi, Dufy, Tokyo, 1975, no. 16 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, Salon des Tuileries XXIII, June - July 1946, no. 1158.
New York, Louis Carré Gallery, Raoul Dufy, Recent Paintings, 1951, no. 2.
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Chefs-d'oeuvre des collections françaises, 1952, no. 36 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Louis Carré, Dufy, July - September 1953, no. 2, n.p..
Marseille, Musée Cantini, Hommage à Raoul Dufy, 1954, no. 30.
Basel, Kunsthalle, Raoul Dufy, April - June 1954, no. 66.
Berne, Kusnthalle, Raoul Dufy, June - July 1954, no. 37.
Paris, Musée Pédagogique, Pérennité de l'art Gaulois, February - March 1955, no. 339, p. 79.
Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Raoul Dufy, March - April 1955, no. 39, n.p. (illustrated n.p.; dated '1930').
Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Raoul Dufy: Peintures, Aquarelles, Dessins, Tapisseries, July - September 1955, no. 19, p. 25 (illustrated pl. 10).
Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Raoul Dufy, June - September 1956, no. 22, n.p. (illustrated n.p.).
Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Paysages de France, de l'Impressionnisme à nos jours, July - September 1958, no. 62, p. 28.
Paris, Foire de Paris, May 1959.
Paris, Galerie Taménaga, Dufy, November - December 1978, no. 17, n.p. (illustrated pl. 17).
Tokyo, Grande Galerie Odakyu, Exposition Raoul Dufy, April 1983, no. 14; this exhibition later travelled to Nishinomuya, Musée Otani des Beaux-Arts, April - May 1983; Yokohama, Takashimaya, June 1983; and Gunma, Museum of Modern Art, June - July 1983.
London, Hayward Gallery, Raoul Dufy, November 1983 - February 1984, no. 96, p. 164 (illustrated p. 151).
Tokyo, Art Point Gallery, Raoul Dufy, October - November 1985, no. 4 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée Marmottan Monet, Raoul et Jean Dufy, Complicité et rupture, April - June 2011, no. 25, p. 54 (illustrated; dated '1930').
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Keith Gill
Keith Gill

Lot Essay

‘Blue. Incandescent, phosphorescent, and ever evanescent blues. Of all the imagery suggested by the mere mention of his name, perhaps blue is most nearly synonymous with Raoul Dufy’
(J. Lancaster, Raoul Dufy, Washington, 1983, p. 5)

'I’ve done the Henley regatta and I’ve still to see the Cowes regatta and the Goodwood races,’ he noted in a letter dated June 25 1930, the year this work was painted. ‘After that I think England will be satisfied’
Raoul Dufy

‘Unhappy the man who lives in a climate far from the sea, or unfed by the sparkling waters of a river!… The painter constantly needs to be able to see a certain quality of light, a flickering, an airy palpitation bathing what he sees’
Raoul Dufy

Iridescent hues of blue paint glisten with the warmth of sun-kissed water in Raoul Dufy’s painting Régates à Cowes (‘Regatta in Cowes’). Executed in 1930-1934, the work presents a charming scene of the annual regatta in Cowes, a town on the Isle of Wight: a dazzling array of boats glide across the sparkling surface of the water, their sails gently billowing in the breeze. A colourful stream of flags cascades down the sides of a mast to the left centre of the picture plane, vibrantly animating the composition with splashes of red, yellow, blue and white. A favourite theme of his celebrated paintings, Dufy took great pleasure in depicting the dynamic atmosphere of regattas. He was captivated by the lucid effects of light on the sea and the sky, and sought to translate the scores of sailboats racing across the tumbling waves into broadly applied strokes of paint. A keen explorer, Dufy travelled across France and England in pursuit of inspiration, attending regattas, races and social gatherings in his hometown Le Havre, as well as in Deauville, Trouville, Henley and Cowes. ‘I’ve done the Henley regatta and I’ve still to see the Cowes regatta and the Goodwood races,’ he noted in a letter dated June 25 1930, the year this work was painted. ‘After that I think England will be satisfied’ (Dufy, quoted in Raoul Dufy 1877-1953, exh. cat., London, 1983, pp. 5-6). These were amongst some of the artist’s favourite retreats, where he would spend time observing the pastimes of the French and English upper classes as they enjoyed walks in lively harbours, boating festivals and the thrilling distraction of endless throngs of leisure boats.

Born to a large family in Le Havre, France in 1877, Dufy expressed an interest in painting from a young age. His upbringing, on the banks of the estuary of the river Seine, had such a profound impact on his artistic vision that he was to later proclaim, ‘I can see the light of the bay of the Seine wherever I am’ (Dufy, quoted in D. Perez-Tibi, Dufy, London, 1989, p. 158). Sure enough, the rich painterly surface of Régates à Cowes has been imbued with a potent alchemy of nostalgia and hometown pride: the saturated blue palette and daintily bobbing boats convey a sense of childlike delight, whilst one of the flags, waving proudly in the wind, and a centrally positioned sailboat, have been patriotically adorned with the French tricolour. The colour blue, a symbol of France in its own right, held great significance for Dufy. He provided deeper explanation for this hallmark of his work in a 1951 interview: ‘Blue is the only colour which keeps its own individuality across the spectrum. Take blue with its different nuances, from the darkest to the lightest; it will always be blue, whereas yellow darkens in shadow and fades out in lighter parts, dark red becomes brown and when diluted with white, it isn’t red any more, but another colour: pink’ (Dufy, quoted in P. Courthion, Raoul Dufy, Geneva, 1951, p. 52). Overwhelmed by the wondrous beauty of the Seine, and enamoured with the radiance of the sky, Dufy set out to capture the intensity of colour and light through the medium of paint.

Light, for Dufy, was ‘the soul of colour’ (Dufy, quoted in J. Lancaster, Raoul Dufy, Washington, 1983, p. 5). He was greatly inspired by the Impressionists, none so much as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, and the influence of their rapid, hazy brushstrokes and melding pools of colours on his own sun-drenched leisure scenes is clear. Yet it was Henri Matisse who truly fascinated the artist when, in 1905, he first saw his seminal painting Luxe, Calme et Volupté of 1904, at the Salon des Indépendants. Seduced and emboldened by its bright and daring Fauvist tones, Dufy transformed the use of colour in his works, experimenting with vivid hues and bold contours, and instilling in his paintings a sense of luminosity. The incandescent brilliance of Dufy’s earlier Fauvist compositions is retained in his more mature style, evident in the vibrancy of colour and loose application of paint. In works such as the present, Dufy masterfully encapsulates the ungraspable, transmutable qualities of glimmering, shimmering water: the essence of its fluidity and movement can be traced within his broad and melting brushmarks. As the artist himself declared, ‘Unhappy the man who lives in a climate far from the sea, or unfed by the sparkling waters of a river! … The painter constantly needs to be able to see a certain quality of light, a flickering, an airy palpitation bathing what he sees’ (Dufy, quoted in D. Perez-Tibi, op. cit., p. 158).

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