RAOUL DUFY (1877-1953)
RAOUL DUFY (1877-1953)
RAOUL DUFY (1877-1953)
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RAOUL DUFY (1877-1953)

Le théâtre antique de Taormina

RAOUL DUFY (1877-1953)
Le théâtre antique de Taormina
signed 'Raoul Dufy' (lower right)
oil on canvas
32 x 39 ½ in. (81.4 x 100.5 cm.)
Painted in 1923
Henri Kapferer, Boulogne-Billancourt (by 1938).
Private collection, Nantes (by 1953).
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 15 June 2007, lot 42.
Anon. (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, London, 17 July 2020, lot 14.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
C. Zervos, Raoul Dufy, Paris, 1928, no. 44 (illustrated; titled Taormina).
M. Brion, Raoul Dufy: Paintings and Watercolors, New York, 1958, no. 23 (illustrated; titled Taormina, Mount Etna).
M. Laffaille, Raoul Dufy: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, Geneva, 1973, vol. II, p. 158, no. 599 (illustrated).
D. Perez-Tibi, Dufy, Paris, 1989, p. 137, no. 178 (illustrated; titled Taormina, Etna).
Kunsthalle Basel, Vlaminck, R. Dufy, Rouault, May-June 1938, no. 63 (titled Taormina).
Paris, Musée national d’art moderne, Raoul Dufy, 1953, no. 41 (titled Taormina, L'Etna).
Kunsthalle Basel, Raoul Dufy, April-June 1954, no. 37 (titled Taormina, l'Etna).

Lot Essay

What Dufy painted no other artist could have rendered, because no other possessed his gift for receiving and reflecting sensations of pleasure, light, and joy… His fine talent as a painter, his masterly use of smooth, brilliant, shining paint, so light and transparent, shows how perfectly his technique suited his artistic feeling’ (M. Brion, Raoul Dufy: Paintings and Watercolours, London, 1958, p. 6).
Painted in 1923, during the artist’s journey to Sicily, the present work depicts the Greek theatre in Taormina. Inspired by the Mediterranean landscape, attracted by the ancient and modern buildings bathed in light, Dufy brought new life to the ruins of the Greek theatre at Taormina where he was to meet up with Pierre Courthion.
Executed with dynamic and cheerful brushstrokes, Le théâtre antique de Taormina glorifies the beauty and nobility of Sicily. The surface of the mountains and texture of the clouds are animated within the vital breadth of mark-making inherent in the artist's masterful technique with the influence of Fauvism readily seen in both the intensity of colour and in the loose application of the paint.
For Dufy, Sicily’s main attraction was the light. ‘In Taormina […] the air, touched by a fiery light, throbbed between the columns of the Greek theatre, above the overhanging rocks, from which the eye plunges into the sea spread out below…[Dufy] had taken up his position on the terraces, in the ruins of the Greek theatre, painting its columns. (Pierre Courthion quoted in D. Perez-Tibi, Dufy, London, 1989, p. 136).

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