Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
Property from the Collection of Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass
Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)

Le bassin de Deauville

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
Le bassin de Deauville
signed and dated 'Raoul Dufy 38' (lower right)
oil on canvas
13 x 32 ½ in. (33 x 82.5 cm.)
Painted in 1938
Mr. and Mrs. Max Miller, New York.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc, New York (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, August 1963.
ArtNews, 26 November 1938, p. 7 (illustrated).
M. Laffaille, Raoul Dufy, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Geneva, 1973, vol. II, p. 326, no. 825 (illustrated).
New York, Bignou Gallery, Two Colorists, Renoir and Raoul Dufy, November-December 1938, no. 10.
San Francisco Museum of Art, Raoul Dufy, March 1939.
Washington, D.C., The Whyte Gallery, Raoul Dufy, May 1939, no. 5.
Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, The Collection of Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass, March-May 2015, p. 16, no. 7 (illustrated in color; detail illustrated in color, p. 17).

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco

Lot Essay

The present work depicts one of Dufy’s favorite subjects during the 1930s: the joyful and dynamic atmosphere of seascapes and regattas. The artist loved to depict scenes of boats racing across the tumbling waves, their sails unfurled, or sailing into the harbors of Le Havre or Deauville. Deauville was internationally renowned as a glamorous space, often called the Parisian Riviera. It had a racetrack, casino, and Coco Chanel’s first shop outside of Paris. It was a favorite retreat for Dufy, where he would observe the pastimes of the French upper class, enjoying walks in lively harbors, boating festivals and the permanent distraction of leisure boats.
In this masterful depiction of the Deauville harbor, Dufy captures the vibrancy and joie de vivre of the town. The tall mast of a sailboat drifting into the harbor towers over the other boats which are parked for the night. The wide format of the canvas gives a panoramic view of the harbor, painted with dynamic and cheerful brushstrokes. The influence of Fauvism is here readily seen in both the intensity of color and in the loose application of the paint. In Dufy’s own interpretation of Fauvism, he combines skeletal, black contours with quick washes of paint. The luminous palette adeptly conveys the climate of the Normandy coast, in particular through the use of Prussian blue, a characteristic choice of the artist. Although commonplace in a seascape, Dufy gives a deeper explanation for his preference for this color in an interview with Pierre Courthion in 1951: “Blue is the only color which keeps its own individuality across the spectrum. Take blue with its different nuances, from the darkest to the lightest; it will always be blue, whereas yellow darkens in shadow and fades out in lighter parts, dark red becomes brown and when diluted with white, it isn’t red any more, but another color: pink” (quoted in P. Courthion, Raoul Dufy, Geneva, 1951, p. 52). One can see in this preference for blue, also a symbol of France, the deep attachment to his country of a painter who decorated windows in French streets with large flags during his Fauve period, and who adorns the present work with a French tricolor proudly waving at the top of the composition.
Interestingly, this painting was one of sixteen works that was installed in the Presidential Suite of the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, where John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy stayed the night in 1963 before he was assassinated.

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