Dufy: Biographical and Critical Studies

Dufy: Biographical and Critical Studies

Dufy: Biographical and Critical Studies

Dufy: Biographical and Critical Studies

Excerpt

RAOUL DUFY was born at Le Havre on June 3, 1877, into a large family that was anything but well-to-do. His father managed a small metals business owned by a local politician; an amateur musician, he played the organ at leisure moments and inspired all his children with a lifelong love of music. Young Raoul had five sisters and three brothers; Léon became an organist at Le Havre, Gaston, an excellent flutist, became the editor of the Courrier Musical in Paris, while Jean, too, was a painter. Wherever the Dufys were, music was in the air. In his early years in Paris, struggling to make ends meet, Raoul Dufy was too poor to join his friends in the evening at the Franc Buveur, the Lapin Agile and the other Montmartre cafés; but he never missed the Sunday afternoon Colonne concerts, preferring to go without supper for the luxury of those two hours of music.

His literary friends having whimsically linked his name with that of Shakespeare's MacDuff, a legend sprang up (and still persists) whereby Dufy is actually a Scottish name. Though unfounded, this idea struck the fancy of Elémir Bourges, who, as Fernand Fleuret relates, always saw in Dufy the perfect wearer of kilts, "with his girlish complexion, his nose sniffing the wind, his blond curls, his sky-blue eyes, always cheerful, neat and trim, always in a hurry and a trifle absent-minded."

His earliest memories were the pigeons his mother raised in her garden and the drawings he scrawled on the back of the prints in a book illustrated by Gustave Doré. His gift for drawing and painting appeared early, but with so many mouths to feed he had to go out and earn his living as soon as possible. He told himself, however, that if he could not paint, he would make his fortune as a rich merchant and spend his wealth collecting pictures. This was the plan that formed in the boy's . . .

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