- Raoul Dufy
Signed Raoul Dufy (lower left)
Oil on canvas
E. J. van Wisselingh & Co., Amsterdam
Mr. And Mrs. M.R. Chipman, Montreal and London (acquired from the above on April 17, 1956)
Estate of Margo I. Reeves (by descent from the above and sold: Phillip's, New York, May 7, 2001, lot 26)
Acquired at the above sale
Pierre Courthion, Raoul Dufy, Geneva, 1951, no. 59, illustrated pl. 59
Maurice Laffaille, Raoul Dufy, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint de 1895 à 1915, vol. I, Geneva, 1972, no. 160, illustrated p. 142
Les Pêcheurs depicts a scene along the Channel coast at Sainte-Adresse where Dufy worked during the summer of 1907. Its brilliant color and immediate application of paint portrays Dufy's embrace of Fauvism. A dramatic shift in his work had been prompted two years earlier by a visit to the 1905 Salon d'Automne. There the vibrantly colored canvases of Henri Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and others, who would be labeled Les Fauves or "wild beasts", encouraged his move away from illusionistic description and traditional pictorial devices towards the application paint in broad areas and bold design. Particularly struck by Matisse's Luxe, calme et volupté (1904-05) in the exhibition, Dufy noted that "At the sight of this picture I understood all the new reasons for painting, and Impressionist realism lost its charm for me as I contemplated the miracle of the imagination introduced into design and color. I immediately understood the new pictorial mechanics."
Indeed, while Dufy's earlier views of Sainte-Adresse recall precedents set by Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet, here extraneous details are suppressed in favor of clear zones represented by the boardwalk, sea and sky, and articulated by notational figures, fishing rods and boats. As John Elderfield has noted, "When Dufy looked to the ocean for his subjects his special floating colorism was further developed in the isolated arcs, curves, and even circles he began to use" (John Elderfield, The "Wild Beasts": Fauvism and Its Affinities, New York, 1976, p. 78).