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

Les Bateaux

Details
Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
Les Bateaux
signed 'Raoul Dufy' (lower right)
oil on canvas
18 ½ x 21 5/8 in. (47 x 54.9 cm.)
Painted in 1909-1910
Provenance
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris.
Dikran G. Kelekian, New York (by 1951).
William Kelly Simpson, New York.
By descent from the above to the present owner, 2017.
Literature
M. Laffaille, Raoul Dufy: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Geneva, 1972, vol. I, p. 266, no. 323 (illustrated).
Exhibited
San Francisco Art Club, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, circa 1950 (on loan).

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1909-1910, the present painting was executed during a time in Dufy’s career when he sought to reconcile his Fauvist approach with elements of Cubism, inspired by the work of Georges Braque and Paul Cézanne. In Les Bateaux, Dufy marries a bold color palette with repeating geometric shapes, while maintaining his buoyant Fauvist approach to the handling of paint. The end result is a scene that reads as a harmonious celebration, boisterously alive with light and air.
The sea, with its ever shifting weather, allowed Dufy ample opportunities to experiment with light and color, and helped him to develop his theory of couleur-lumière, where "the colour captures the light that forms and animates the group as a whole. Every object or group of objects is placed within its own area of light and shade, receiving its share of reflections and being subjected to the arrangement decided by the artist" (quoted in D. Perez-Tibi, Dufy, New York, 1989, p. 150).
Les Bateaux is a vibrant celebration of the port. In the background, a row of houses occupies the bank of the river, while the green water maintains a group of lissome sailboats afloat, their masts sprouting forth and dotting the scene with French flags. Racing boats in the foreground draw the eye across the painting to larger vessels in the back. While Dufy often painted regattas in action, enthralled by the energy and amusement that such a spectacle invoked, here he imbues the scene with the same dynamism by integrating repetitive forms and short, staccato brushstrokes that evoke the ebb and flow of the ocean and wind in the fluttering flags.

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