La Terrasse à Vallauris, 1927

by Raoul Dufy


Raoul Dufy made a number of paintings from the small village of Vallauris during the 1920s when he travelled frequently from Nice to the surrounding areas along the Côte d’Azur. Like countless other artists at this time, including Henri Matisse, Dufy was drawn to the unique quality of light in the south. This new vibrant palette greatly impacted Dufy’s practice and helped to formulate the pure colour and fluid, energetic line that characterised his mature style. Following Dufy’s sojourn in Vallauris, the village itself became a centre of creative activity with the first annual ceramics exhibition in 1946 and the arrival of Picasso, who lived in the village from 1948 to 1955.

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 31.5 x 38.8 ins/ 80 x 100 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘Raoul Dufy’ (lower right)
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

Catalogue No: 5599 Categories: ,

‘La Terrasse à Vallauris’ is one of several paintings that capture the panoramic views of the coastline, gardens and aquamarine sea from a pavilion overlooking the village. In each of these works (an example of which can be found in the Bührle Foundation, Zürich), Dufy highlights the columns and archways in a rich cerulean blue that seeps beyond the outlines of the structure to evoke the radiant warmth of the south. As Gertrude Stein, the poet, writer and art collector explained, “Dufy is pleasure. Think of the colour and it is not that and the line and it is not that, but it is that which is all together and which is the colour that is in Dufy”. Having recently returned from his travels to Morocco in 1926, the arched vistas of the Vallauris terrace and details such as the patterned tiles and multi-coloured dots also reveal the artist’s new-found interest in oriental decoration.

‘La Terrasse à Vallauris’ was previously in the collection of the legendary German art dealer Alfred Flechtheim.

Galerie Flechtheim, Germany
Private Collection, United States

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Raoul Dufy was born in Le Havre, where he began to study art at night while working as an errand boy during the day. When he obtained a small scholarship in 1900 he went to Paris to study with Bonnat. About five years later, he met Matisse and the other Fauve painters, whose colour delighted him.

Dufy experimented with Fauvism, made some attempts at Cubism, and in the years between 1905 and 1920, earned his living by working on a museum staff designing fabrics, and doing some book illustration. Painting at Honfleur toward the end of World War I, Dufy observed that line moves more rapidly than colour does and that the human eye receives the sensation of colour more easily than that of movement, thus holding this mental image longer. The painter’s perception led to his development of that lightning-fast, calligraphic, short, curved line with which his pen or pencil was forever to move across paper. It also led to his application of colour in “diffusions” that were not strictly confined to outlines but sometimes swept across a work in broad bands colouring objects perhaps half-green and half-blue and thus making them part of a lively, moving world held together in tight compositions in which both colour and line dance and sparkle.

To this understanding of movement and colour Dufy added a love of poetry, music, drawing, painting, and of simply being alive. His personal symbolism, sensitive touch, and feeling for colour create a world of fashionable pleasure from which he made a natural transition to textile design, ceramic decoration, and decorative painting. By 1925, his reputation solidly established, he was commissioned to paint murals for many French public buildings. He began to suffer from multiple-arthritis in 1937, and moved to southwestern France for his health. When the disease progressed to the point that he could no longer paint, he came to the United States for cortisone treatment in 1947. After the treatment and a trip to Arizona, Dufy, although not cured, was well enough to return to France and to continue painting until his death in 1953.

    Your Message

    C. Zervos, Raoul Dufy, Cahiers D’Art, Paris, 1928 (similar work illustrated);

    M. Laffaille and F. Guillon-Laffaille, Raoul Dufy Catalogue Raisonné de L’Oeuvre peint, Supplement, Paris, 1985, p. 53, no. 1869 (illustrated).

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