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

Le bassin à Deauville

RAOUL DUFY (1877-1953)
Le bassin à Deauville
signed and dated 'Raoul Dufy 1929' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 x 21 ½ in. (45.9 x 57.8 cm.)
Painted in 1929
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist).
Roland Balay, Paris.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc. and Carstairs Gallery, New York (acquired from the above, by April 1949).
Henry and Clare Luce, New York (acquired from the above, July 1950).
Dr. Armand Hammer, Los Angeles (by 1969); sale, Christie's, London, 2 July 1974, lot 45.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.
M. Laffaille, Raoul Dufy: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Geneva, 1973, vol. II, p. 318, no. 811 (illustrated).
Memphis, Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, The Armand Hammer Collection, October-December 1969, no. 77 (illustrated).
Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institute, The Armand Hammer Collection: A Loan Exhibition For the Benefit of the Smithsonian Institution, National Endowment for the Arts and American Association of Museums, 1970, no. 86 (illustrated in color).

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Lot Essay

Born to a large family in Le Havre, Dufy expressed a keen interest in painting from a young age. Like Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet before him, Dufy drew endless inspiration from the vibrant life of the port and maritime landscape in which he was raised, translating his unique perspective to canvas with potent energy. At the age of eighteen, Dufy enrolled in evening classes at Le Havre’s Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he won a scholarship to the Ecole Nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It was there that he was introduced to the Impressionist landscapes of Monet and Camille Pissarro, as well as Paul Cezanne’s compositions, which emphasized structure and color over light. Ultimately, Dufy would find the greatest painterly and chromatic freedom through Fauvism. After viewing Henri Matisse’s Luxe, Calme et Volupte in the Salon des Indépendants of 1905, Dufy adopted the bright color and flat compositional style of the movement, imbuing his art with a newly discovered vibrancy and shaping his trademark aesthetic of marrying skeletal black contours to loosely applied washes.
Dufy was a plein-air painter and a consummate traveler, ever ready to set up his easel along the French or English coasts. Often called the Parisian Riviera, Deauville remained his preferred retreat and subject. The picturesque town was internationally renowned as a glamorous and alluring holiday spot, with its famous casino, racetracks and leisure boats. For Dufy, it was the ideal perch from which to observe the pastimes of the French upper class as they took part in boating festivals and strolled through lively harbors. Le bassin à Deauville portrays this recuring subject, capturing the bustling atmosphere of the seaside town through the flurry of decorated boats sailing into the port and the fashionable figures on the boardwalk. Monet had meticulously rendered the entrance to the same harbor from the town of Trouville, on the opposite side of the Touques River, depicting in intricate detail the sky and ships and their reflections on the glittering water.
The interplay of dynamic verticals, horizontals, and diagonals in Le bassin à Deauville guides the viewer across the small scenes and delightful details which speckle the painting, directed by the towering mast which punctures the composition and by the interplay of hoisted flags. These stand out against the vividly painted blue sky and water which frame the scene, and which are broken by the colorful tiered houses of the Trouville hill in the distance. The bold palette and energetic brushwork contribute to the robust vibrancy of the canvas.
Le bassin à Deauville has distinguished provenance, having been in numerous important collections. It previously belonged to the American publishing magnate Henry Luce and his wife Clare Boothe Luce. As the founder of Time, Fortune, and Life magazine, Luce is often credited with transforming the face of American journalism. A remarkable and accomplished woman in her own right, Clare Boothe was a Congresswoman, Ambassador, playwright, journalist, and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The painting later entered the collection of American industrialist and prominent collector Armand Hammer who in 1990 founded the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Centre in Los Angeles to house his celebrated and carefully curated collection.

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