Jean Dufy was born in Le Havre in 1888 and came from a large, musically as well as artistically, very talented family. His older brother was the well known painter, Raoul Dufy. Dufy’s career began with a mercantile apprenticeship – he only gradually discovered his love of painting. When visiting an exhibit in Le Havre in 1906, featuring impressive works by Matisse, Derain, Marquet and Picasso, he decided to become a full-time artist.
When he returned from military service in 1912 he moved to Paris. In 1914, Jean Dufy presented his watercolours for the first time in the Galerie Berthe Weill, receiving great recognition. After this success he was encouraged to work tirelessly on his paintings of landscapes, animals and flowers. By 1916, Raoul and Jean Dufy worked together for textile studio Bianchini-Férier, also developing flower and animal designs for the Lyon porcelain manufacturer Théodore Haviland de Limoges for thirty years.
In 1920, he returned to Paris and lived in the artist quarter Montmartre, a direct neighbour of Georges Braques. The music and art of the Parisian culture scene during the post-war years influenced Jean Dufy definitively in his power of expression in colours, but at the same time he was drawn time and again to nature and to landscape representation. In 1925, Jean Dufy received the Gold Medal at L`exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs for designing the porcelain service “Châteaux de France”. He exhibited consistently for the subsequent years.
At the World’s Fair in Paris in 1937, the general manager of the Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution de l`Electricité commissioned the brothers Dufy to design the ceiling (with a size of 600 square meters) for the Electricity Pavillion – an amazing structure that would be lit by thousands of electric light bulbs, a revolution in technology.
In 1950-60, Dufy took numerous trips abroad, and his impressions from these were reflected in his work. Nevertheless, the city of Paris remained his favourite inspirational city subject.