Raoul Dufy French, 1877-1953


Raoul Dufy was a French Fauvist painter. He developed a colorful, decorative style and is noted for scenes of open-air social events. He was also a draftsman, printmaker, book illustrator, scenic designer, a designer of furniture, and a planner of public spaces.


Born in Le Havre, in Normandy, Raoul Dufy began evening classes in art at Le Havre's École des Beaux-Arts. The classes were taught by Charles Lhuillier, who had been, forty years earlier, a student of the French portrait painter, Ingres. During this period, Dufy painted mostly Norman landscapes in watercolors.


In 1900 Dufy won a scholarship to the École Nationale supérieure des Beaux- Arts in Paris, where he was a contemporary student of Georges Braque. His first exhibition, at the Exhibition of French Artists, took place in 1901. He exhibited in 1903 at the Salon des Indépendants. Dufy continued to paint, often in the vicinity of Le Havre, and, in particular, on the beach at Sainte- Adresse, made famous by Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet.


Henri Matisse's 'Luxe, Calme et Volupté', which Dufy saw at the Salon des Indépendants in 1905, was a revelation to the young artist, and it directed his interests towards Fauvism. Les Fauves (the wild beasts) emphasized bright color and bold contours in their work. Dufy's cheerful oils and watercolors depict events of the time period, including yachting scenes, views of the French Riviera, chic parties, and musical events. The optimistic, fashionably decorative, and illustrative nature of much of his work has meant that his output has been less highly valued critically than the works of artists who have addressed a wider range of social concerns.


In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Dufy exhibited at the annual Salon des Tuileries in Paris. In 1952 he received the grand prize for painting in the 26th Venice Biennale. Dufy died at Forcalquier, France, on 23 March 1953. He was buried near Matisse in the Cimiez Monastery Cemetery in Cimiez, a suburb of the city of Nice.