Raoul Dufy was born in 1877 in Le Havre, France. His early art education came from days spent, along with his school friend Othon Friesz, studying paintings by Boudin in the La Herve museum. He received a scholarship in 1900 that provided for studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Dufy then worked as an illustrator, a fabric designer for Paul Poiret, a famous couturier, among other design work in theater and costume design.
A major mural commission, from the Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution d’Électricité, was awarded to Dufy. It was for the 1937 World’s Fair Exhibition in Paris. Dufy titled the mural "La Fee Electricite”, and it was dedicated to the history and the significant role of electricity in the 20th century. Jacques Maroger, Dufy’s technical assistant during the project, had developed a new, quick drying medium that would give Dufy the translucence and vibrancy of watercolor but also allowed for quick work. This extraordinary mural, nearly 200’ x 30’, was completed in 10 months.
The exhibition ended and Dufy then had considerable concern for the care and storage of the mural. The immense size made any permanent public display impossible so the mural was cut into 250 sections and stored away. This was dismal plus the art was now taken from the public eye. Finally, a Paris publisher suggested that Dufy reproduce "La Fee Electricite” as a color lithograph. The monumental project began in 1951 and Dufy completed it prior to his death in 1953. It is considered to be one, if not the, largest scale printmaking feat at 3’ high x 20’ wide, executed in 22 colors and printed in ten sheets.
Dufy visited the US twice, he was enamored with Americans and what was happening in the US. The second trip, in 1951, was for treatment of his crippling arthritis. He continued to work and have, as the French say, “la joie de vivre”, the joy of life. After some improved health he returned to Provence and continued to paint at his farmhouse until his death at the age of seventy-five.
Tate Gallery, London, England
The Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA
Musee des Beaux-Arts, Le Havre, France
Museum of Modern Art, New York;City, NY
Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris, France
Musee Royal des Beaux-Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark