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    Sale 2256

    The Modern Age: The Hillman Family Collection

    5 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 30

    Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)

    Mozart

    Price Realised  

    Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
    Mozart
    signed 'Raoul Dufy' (lower right) and dated '1934' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    51 1/8 x 43 1/8 in. (129.9 x 109.5 cm.)
    Painted in 1934


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    Notice in the back of the catalogue.

    Raoul Dufy turned periodically to the theme of great composers and painted homages to Mozart, Bach, Chopin and Debussy. Dufy's love for music dated back to his childhood. His father, Léon-Marius Dufy, was an organist and conductor for church choirs in his spare time. Dufy's two brothers, Léon and Gaston, were professional musicians, and Gaston eventually became a music critic who often supplied Dufy with passes to concerts. Dufy himself was an amateur violinist, but was more interested in being a spectator at the symphony than a musician himself.

    The present painting is a reworking of the first canvas in this series, Hommage à Mozart, 1915 (Laffaille, no. 82; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY). As is the case in most of these tribute paintings, the composer's name appears on sheet music which is set prominently in the foreground. This version depicts Mozart's house in Salzburg, as seen from a window across the street; the vantage point is indicated by the shutter in the left foreground of the composition. In addition to the house and sheet music, Dufy included a clarinet in this painting, which represents Mozart's sublime clarinet concerto, one of his last completed works. Regarding a related version painted in 1916 (Sold, Christie's, New York, 9 May 2000, lot 195), Lucy Lippard wrote:

    "Dufy had a life long attachment to musical subjects, among which references to Mozart's rococo forms often appeared. 'My eyes were made to efface that which is ugly,' he once said, and his art finally reflected his involvement with fashion and theatre design in its acceptance of the conventionally pretty. This painting represents a transitional period in which the remnants of Dufy's fauve and cubist styles provided a solid skeleton of angular form and bright color on which to superimpose the calligraphic motifs that eventually comprised his mature style. The flat and decorative central area contrasts with the weightier cubist periphery. House, horn and score are drawn, rather than painted, as are the curling lines of the sculptural pediment, ironwork gate and vine at the right. They are not fragmented and integrated into the whole as they would have been in a cubist work, but are separated and pulled forward as such objects often were in French baroque illustration and ornament" (in The School of Paris, ex. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1971.)

    In the present painting, done nearly two decades later, Dufy added a painted trompe-l'oeil frame. This was in response to a commission from Mme Marie Cuttoli for a tapestry design based on the Mozart theme; the frame served as a border that added space around the painted scene and set off the Mozartean motifs. The final tapestry (Sold, Christie's New York, 21 May 1982, lot 409) shows the present original painting as seen in reverse.

    One striking element of Mozart is its overall red tonality. In the late phase of his career, Dufy became preoccupied with the phenomenon of tonal painting, in which one color dominates the entire composition. In particular, he espoused this method of painting with his musical subjects, for he felt the richness of one color offered a sensual and emotional intensity akin to the effect of harmonic tonality in the compositions of his favorite composers.

    Provenance

    Galerie Marcel Bernheim, Paris.
    Alex and Rita K. Hillman, New York (acquired from the above, May 1961). Gift from the above to the present owner, 16 October 1968.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation


    Literature

    M. Laffaille, Raoul Dufy, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Geneva, 1977, vol. IV, p. 79, no. 1490 (illustrated in color).
    D. Perez-Tibi, Dufy, New York, 1989, p. 245 (titled Homage to Mozart).
    E. Braun, Manet to Matisse, The Hillman Family Collection, Seattle and London, 1994, p. 66, no. 14 (illustrated in color, p. 67; titled Hommage à Mozart).


    Exhibited

    Bronx Museum of the Arts, Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, April-May 1972.
    San Antonio, McNay Art Institute, A Twenty-fifth Anniversary Event, May-June 1980, no. 23.
    London, Arts Council of Great Britain, Hayward Gallery, Raoul Dufy, 1877-1953, November 1983-February 1984, p. 164, no. 107.
    The Brooklyn Museum, Exhibition of Works from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, February 1986-January 1987.
    The Brooklyn Museum, Modern Masters: French Art from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation Collection, June-August 1988.
    West Palm Beach, Florida, Norton Museum of Art and Memphis, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Raoul Dufy, Last of the Fauves, March-September 1999, p. 84, no. 54 (illustrated in color, p. 69; titled Hommage à Mozart).