This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Fanny Guillon-Laffaille dated Paris, le 3 mai 1990 and numbered A90-661.
Throughout the 1920s, 30s and early 40s, Dufy travelled to the South of France, favouring Nice, the place of his wife's birth. The strength and intensity of the light provided ideal working conditions such as he had experienced in Sicily during his trip there in the early 1920s, as well as during his first visit to North Africa in 1926.
The present work depicts the landscape surrounding the Gulf of Nice, framed by the balustrade of a balcony. Artists concerned with a definition of space often employed this pictorial device, most notably Matisse in his depictions of the coastal city. Likewise Dufy explored this effect to great success throughout his career, allowing him to link the interior and the exterior, or the viewer and the viewed, to create a unity in the pictorial plane.
Using watercolour to emphasise the volatility of light and his own sensations in response, in La terrasse à Nice Dufy proves himself a virtuoso draughtsman and a first-rate colourist. As the artist commented, "Light is the soul of colour... without light, colour is lifeless" (R. Dufy, Letter to André Lhote, 1943, quoted in J. Lassaigne, Raoul Dufy, Geneva, 1951, p. 30).
Dufy's art is a testimonial to the bonheur de vivre, a paean to a world dedicated to leisure and self-enjoyment. Quite simply stated, it is a "precious concentrate of a traditional blessing of French art and life - a civilised hedonism" (S. Hunter, Dufy, New York, p.3).