Promenade à cheval au bois c.1930

by Raoul Dufy

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 19.6 x 26 ins
SIGNATURE: Signed lower centre
MEDIUM: Gouache on paper

 

Catalogue No: 5388 Categories: ,

One of Raoul Dufy’s favoured subjects, this beautiful work on paper shows the hour of the promenade in the park. Society people are seen riding their horses, stopping every so often to exchange pleasantries with their friends. Dufy loved painting horses, especially the paddocks at races and stud farms, and it is a subject he returned to time and time again.

This work was painted in around 1930, the year Dufy was commissioned by Mrs J.B.A Kessler to create a monumental family portrait of herself, her husband and their five daughter (Tate). Promenade à cheval au bois was likely painted during the artist’s time in London in 1932 when he stayed at the Savoy Hotel and the location is most likely the Rotten Row in Hyde Park.

Private Collection, France;
Private Collection, Europe

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Raoul Dufy was born into a large family at Le Havre, in Normandy. He left school at the age of fourteen to work in a coffee-importing company. In 1895, when he was 18, he started taking evening classes in art at Le Havre’s École d’Art (municipal art school). The classes were taught by Charles L’huillier, who had been, forty years earlier, a student of the remarkable French portrait-painter, Ingres. There, Dufy met Raymond Lecourt and Othon Friesz with whom he later shared a studio in Montmartre and to whom he remained a lifelong friend. During this period, Dufy painted mostly Norman landscapes in watercolours.

In 1900, after a year of military service, Dufy won a scholarship to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where again he crossed paths with Othon Friesz. (He was there when Georges Braque also was studying.) He concentrated on improving his drawing skills. The impressionist landscape painters, such as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, influenced Dufy profoundly.

His first exhibition (at the Exhibition of French Artists) took place in 1901. Introduced to Berthe Weill in 1902, Dufy showed his work in her gallery. Then he exhibited again in 1903 at the Salon des Indépendants. A boost to his confidence: the painter, Maurice Denis, bought one of his paintings. Dufy continued to paint, often in the vicinity of Le Havre, and, in particular, on the beach at Sainte-Adresse, made famous by Eugene Boudin and Claude Monet. In 1904, with his friend, Albert Marquet, he worked in Fecamp on the English Channel.

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