This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Fanny Guillon-Laffaille. It will be included in her forthcoming supplement to the Raoul Dufy Catalogue raisonné of watercolours, gouaches and pastels currently in preparation.
Dufy's fascination with the races was inspired by his collaboration with the fashion designer Paul Poiret, who in 1909 commissioned the artist to create the stationery for his house and the textile patterns used in fabrics and garments. Poiret's signature dresses were flamboyantly sported by the ladies attending the races in Paris, Nice, Deauville, and, of course, the even more fashionable English race courses at Epsom and Ascot.
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 1920s, his attention to the public's attire grew stronger and he dedicated a series of gouaches to Poiret's models (Les mannequins de Poiret), whom he captured in still, frieze-like compositions, influenced by 1920s fashion advertising. 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.