Lot 355
  • 355

RAOUL DUFY | Le Marché aux poissons

150,000 - 250,000 USD
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  • Raoul Dufy
  • Le Marché aux poissons
  • Signed R Dufy (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 18 1/8  by 21 3/4  in.
  • 46 by 55.2 cm
  • Painted circa 1905.


Germaine Dufy, Paris (the artist's sister)
Private Collection, France (acquired from the above)
Private Collection, France (by descent from the above and sold: Sotheby's, London, June 20, 2007, lot 328)
Acquired at the above sale


Honfleur, Société des artistes honfleurais, Hommage à Raoul Dufy, 1954, n.n.
Hamburg, Kunstverein & Essen, Museum Folkwang, Raoul Dufy, 1967-68, no. 10, illustrated in the catalogue
Le Havre, Musée d'art moderne André Malraux, Pissarro dans les ports, Rouen, Dieppe, Le Havre, 2013, no. 20 


Maurice Laffaille, Raoul Dufy, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, vol. I, Geneva, 1972, no. 105, illustrated p. 99


The canvas is not lined. There is frame abrasion and some minor associated losses to all four corners. There is a light undulation to the canvas. There is some pigment shrinkage to the green pigments in the coat of the fish buyer in the foreground. There is a fine hairline craquelure, most notably in the blue pigments of the river. Under UV inspection, there are pindot sized strokes of inpainting along the top and right edges. There is a nailhead sized stroke of inpainting in the upper right corner. There are a few strokes of inpainting in the violet pigments near the edge of the water, which corresponds to a patch on the reverse of the canvas. The work is in good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Executed circa 1905, Le Marché aux poissons is a fine example dating from the early years of Dufy's Fauve period. That seminal year in the history of modern art also proved to be a defining one for Dufy's career. After visiting the Salon des Indépendants in Paris, where he saw Matisse's masterpiece Luxe, calme et volupté, Dufy said, "I understood the new raison d'être of painting and impressionist realism lost its charm for me as I beheld this miracle of the creative imagination at play, in colour and drawing" (quoted in Jacques Lassaigne, Dufy, New York, 1954, p. 22). Matisse's influence was soon apparent in Dufy's output, as the latter began to incorporate the same bright hues that the former pioneered, while at the same time personalizing his own style by incorporating softer colors such as pale pink, turquoise and yellow.

The setting for this composition is undoubtedly one of the many ports on the Normandy coast, where Dufy was born and spent his formative years, for he seems intimate with the type of daily fish markets that took place on the quay after the boats had come in. The group of figures, stall holders and customers alike, some standing and talking, some turned away, form a crowd of passersby that infuse the composition with movement and energy. Typical of Dufy's Fauve period, the work has a highly stylized approach to color and form, with large areas covered with strong, unmodulated pigment (see fig. 1). 

As Alvin Martin and Judi Freeman wrote, "what distinguished the work of the Fauves from Le Havre (Dufy, Friesz and Braque) from that of Matisse and company was the treatment of surface and color. Whereas the Norman artists have been steadfastly loyal to the Impressionist approach to painting, Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck and the others borrowed extensively from the far more audacious generation that succeeded the Impressionists. The highly saturated color and the laying in of brilliant tones side by side, and they inevitably responded to it in their own work, produced back in their native Normandy. Dufy championed the Fauve cause most assiduously of the three artists, while continuing to paint his familiar motifs. His paintings seem to be invigorated with color, no doubt the product of having experienced the sensational Fauve salon" (quoted in The Fauve Landscape (exhibition catalogue), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1990, pp. 221-22).