“I know the sea as a bather, as a sailor and as a painter. It is as a painter that it is dearest to me.” (Raoul Dufy)
In the course of his life, the painter Raoul Dufy was first an Impressionist, then a Fauvist and a Cubist. He was born in 1877 in Le Havre in Normandy. The fine sandy beaches and the exceptional light inspired his painting. Although he liked to travel a lot, the Côte Fleury remained his favourite motif. His paintings are strongly determined by the “Lumière-Couleure principle” in all creative phases. This principle of light and colour allows him to create a large number of cheerful, fun-loving pictures. In our neighbouring country France, he is therefore rightly nicknamed the “painter of joy and happiness”. In Trouville on the English Channel, he observed through his artist’s eyes the incipient spa tourism, but also the fishing and the still intact nature.
In the beginning, following in the footsteps of Caillebotte and Monet, he gave himself over completely to Impressionism. The special light of Normandy is ideal for depicting water, air and just that in between – the horizon line. He paints summer visitors in comfortable but elegant clothes and he falls in love with the many wooden jetties on the water, which give structure to his works. The famous painting “Beach and Pier in Trouville” is created.
In the course of time, however, he felt restricted by this mere reproduction of what he had seen, and from 1905 he became interested in Fauvism. The bright colours fascinated him and he turned his gaze away from the sea. Now he painted urban scenes. Trouville changed during the Belle Époque, became more lively. Advertising posters hang everywhere and even fences are covered with lettering. His painting “Posters in Trouville” bears witness to this period and his pleasure in observing – he was obviously fascinated by the modern city.
Following in Cezanne’s footsteps, Dufy was finally drawn to the south of France. There he created pictures with typical cubist forms, tightly packed and full of bright colours.
In the 1920s he returned to Deauville, the neighbouring town of Trouville. The seaside resort was very popular with the aristocracy and the intellectual elite. Dancers, painters and writers met here – often in the Hippodrome.
The movements of horses and riders fascinated Dufy and led directly to his most famous paintings. Light, colour, movement, the lines of the individual bodies – he combines all this in a unique, colourful and life-affirming cycle of paintings.
“Painters can really only be born in a maritime climate.” (Raoul Dufy)
(A. W., inspired by the report “Qu’elle est belle la Normandie de Raoul Dufy”).