Jean Dufy was born into a large family, the seventh of eleven children. He spent his childhood in Le Havre and it was there where he and his siblings were influenced by their father’s passion for music, a theme that was to become prominent in his work.
What was Jean Dufy’s inspiration?
After completing school, Jean Dufy’s father, an accountant in a metallurgic company, placed him in an import company, holding the position of commis en dehors, a clerk. That gave the young man the opportunity to spend most of his time in the exhilarating atmosphere of a harbour. There he memorised all of these sensations in his sketchbook, filling page by page with drawings of ships in all sizes loading and offloading merchandise from far away countries.
Jean’s older brother, Raoul Dufy, together with fellow artists Georges Braque and Othon Friesz, plus the Parisian art dealer Georges Aubry, organised an exhibition in 1906 at the Town Hall in Le Havre to encourage the people of the city to appreciate modern art. It was this exhibition that included masterpieces by leading artists such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, André Derain, Albert Marquet and others who inspired the young Jean Dufy, particularly Matisse and his extraordinary use of light.
How did Jean Dufy’s career start?
Dufy took a job as a secretary on the ocean liner La Savoie, crossing the ocean to New York City for nearly two years. After he completed his military service between 1910 and 1911, he settled in Paris in 1912. At this stage, he painted mainly flowers in watercolour, and before long esteemed art dealer Berthe Weill showed Dufy’s first watercolours in her gallery.
Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Dufy was drafted, but it did not stop him from drawing and painting on a smaller scale. Upon his return from the war, he worked with his older brother Raoul in Paris, using his talent as a colourist on fabric designs for the famous manufacturer Bianchini-Férier. At the same time, he embarked on decorating porcelain for Théodore Haviland in Limoges, an occupation that lasted for the next thirty years.
Where was Jean Dufy based?
In 1920, Dufy settled in Montmartre, into an artistic community, next door to Georges Braque, who he had met previously in Le Havre.
He was one of many artists who chose Paris and its monuments as a subject of his art, painting an impressive collection of extraordinary views in watercolour and oil over a period of thirty-five years. At the same time Dufy visited many European countries, drawing his subject from famous views of major cities.
Because of his work connection with Haviland in Limoges, he painted many lyrical canvases of the countryside in the Limousin region, moved to Preuilly-sur-Claise in Touraine, and in 1948 he bought a house in a village near the town of Boussay, where he lived until his death in 1964.
What is Jean Dufy’s painting style?
Jean Dufy regularly incorporated music (particularly jazz and cabaret) into his art.
The painter had become internationally renowned, with multiple exhibitions across the most important Parisian galleries — including Galerie Barreiro and Galerie Drouand-David. Other museums include Musée National d’Art Moderne and Centre Pompidou, as well as a number of US-based exhibitions in the Art Institute of Chicago and MoMA in New York. Today, you can purchase his paintings at Willow Gallery.