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Raoul Dufy Edit Profile

decorator , illustrator , painter

Raoul Dufy was a French painter and designer noted for his brightly coloured and highly decorative scenes of luxury and pleasure.


Raoul Dufy was born on June 3, 1877 in Le Havre, France, into a large family.


In 1900 Dufy enrolled at the École Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris, and frequented the atelier of painter-collector Léon Bonnat.


Dufy painted in an Impressionist style in his early work, but after meeting Matisse he abandoned his early impressionist style and by 1905 turned to the more spontaneous expression of fauvism. He had begun to employ the broad brushstrokes and bright colours typical of the Fauve artists. A 1907 exhibition of Paul Cézanne’s work convinced Dufy to adopt temporarily more subdued colours and structured compositions. He worked in a Cubist-influenced style with the painters Georges Braque and Émile-Othon Friesz during 1908 and 1909, but he soon returned to his more carefree Fauvist approach.

For a time Dufy designed fabrics for the dressmaker Paul Poiret and illustrated books, including the writings of Apollinaire, Mallarmé, and Gide. In the 1920s he designed ceramics and tapestries. It was not until 1920, after he had flirted briefly with yet another style, cubism, that Dufy finally developed his own distinctive approach. Dufy's mature style involved skeletal structures arranged in a diminished perspective and the use of light washes of color put on by swift brush strokes in a manner that came to be known as "stenographic. " Using swift, stenographic brushstrokes, he developed a remarkable linear virtuosity and brilliant color.

Dufy took as his subjects scenes of recreation and spectacle, including horse races, regattas, parades, and concerts. He spent much of his time on the French Riviera and produced series of paintings of Nice (1927), the Bois de Boulogne (1929), and Deauville (1930). He also worked as an illustrator and printmaker, creating whimsically drawn etchings and lithographs in the 1920s and ’30s. Though very popular, his lively, carefree, elegant paintings have been criticized as occasionally bordering on the superficial.


  • Dufy was known especially for his relaxed and witty renderings of beach resorts, race courses, and sailing regattas.