Painted in 1938, on the cusp of the Second World War, the present work is suffused with light, the wind gently rippling the sails of the boats. As the critic Bryan Robertson writes: ‘Dufy’s combination of fast speed through line and attack with vivid colour is by its nature free of nostalgia, a crucial twentieth-century freedom in art, and in Dufy’s art the combination of forces hits a modern nerve with special gaiety, verve and spiritual vibration’ (ibid. p. 18).
Deauville was one of Dufy’s preferred settings for his works, in which the town’s regattas and racecourses often featured. The sailing boat, with billowing sails, as in the present work, was also an important subject for Dufy, and is one which the artist frequently returned to within his paintings. Here the boat also can be seen to take on a symbolic role, as ‘a potent symbol of exotic, faraway countries and long voyages’ (ibid p. 18).
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