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

Epsom, la course

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
Epsom, la course
signed 'Raoul Dufy' (lower right)
oil on canvas
15 x 18 1/4 in. (37.8 x 46.4 cm.)
Painted in 1933
Dr. Alexandre Roudinesco, Paris, by whom acquired from the artist, and thence by descent; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 17 April 1969, lot 75.
Private collection, France, acquired from the above; sale, Sotheby's, London, 4 February 2015, lot 432.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
J. Cassou, Raoul Dufy, Poète et artisan, Geneva, 1950 (illustrated).
M. Raynal, Histoire de la peinture moderne, vol. II, Matisse, Munch, Rouault: fauvisme et expressionnisme, Geneva, 1958, p. 71 (illustrated).
M. Laffaille, Raoul Dufy, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, vol. III, Geneva, 1976, no. 1304, p. 312 (illustrated).
Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Raoul Dufy, July - September 1955, no. 23 (illustrated pl. XIII; titled 'Courses à Ascot').
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Chefs-d'oeuvre de Raoul Dufy, April - July 1959, no. 27 (titled 'Ascot. Le Peloton').

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Michelle McMullan
Michelle McMullan

Lot Essay

Dufy had experimented with the subject of horse races as early as 1913. His first paddock works were highly stylised watercolours, focussing on the audience of élégantes, dandies and jockeys attending the courses at Deauville. In the 1930s, with his discovery of the race courses at Epsom and Ascot, Dufy's compositions became more ambitious, as in the present work, in which Dufy captures the electric moment of the race itself, concentrating fully on the thrill of the race with a unique immediacy and panache.

Seen from a bird’s eye view, the pounding horses have an iconic quality which echoes all the way back to the wild horses of the Lascaux caves. Their vivid, ochre-brown is broken by the angular figures of the jockeys, mostly outlined in a rich blue. The famous grandstand at Epsom is also concentrated into a series of fierce horizontal and vertical lines, its geometry contrasting with the free-flowing animals. Dufy perfectly captures the excitement of the race and the exhilaration of watching these high-bred creatures move effortlessly through space.

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