Catalog Essay | September 17, 2020 | Lot 9
Jean Dufy was born in Le Havre, France in 1888. There he discovered works by Matisse, Derain, Marquet and Picasso at the Le Havre Exposition in 1906. In 1912, he moved to Paris and met Derain, Braque and Picasso. Dufy’s early watercolors are characterized by muted tones and somber browns, blues and reds—a technique influenced by Cézanne and inherited through his brother Raoul Dufy, who became a mentor throughout Jean’s career.
In 1916, Jean embarked upon a thirty-year career of decorating porcelain for Théodore Haviland in Limoges. He earned a gold medal at the 1925 International Exhibition of Decorative Arts for the“Châteaux de France” set of porcelain.
Back in Paris in 1920, Jean settled in Montmartre, where Georges Braque was his neighbor. He was included in expositions in Paris (Salon d’Automne at the Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées in 1920, 1923, 1924, 1927, and 1932, Galerie Bingin 1929) and New York (Balzac Galleries in 1930, Perls Galleries in 1938) where his paintings were put in the public eye for the first time.
Dufy traveled extensively throughout the 1950s, but it is obvious through subjects of his works that France was the place he considered home and his favorite subject matter.
The Champs Elysees is one of Paris’ most recognizable boulevards extending from the Place de La Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Pictured here is the end of the Champs Elysees at the Arc de Triomphe, crowded with pedestrians and carriages. The spontaneous and quick brushstrokes capture the hustle and bustle of the busy street and the movement of the people.
Of his Paris paintings, historian and scholar Jacques Bailly notes, “In his oil paintings and watercolors, Jean Dufy chose to represent the city using a constantly evolving creative process dominated by a harmony of blue tones. For Jean, blue was an insatiable source of inspiration for the Gates of Paris, the streets, the horse-drawn carriages, the Eiffel Tower, the sky, and the Seine.”