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European Art

colorful beach, people viewing from behind a fence


Raoul Dufy

France, 1877-1953

La Plage de Sainte-Adresse (The Beach of Sainte-Adresse), 1906

Oil on canvas

18 1/8 x 21 5/8 in.

Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Bequest, 2000

In 1905, Henri Matisse, André Derain, and Maurice de Vlaminck unleashed a riot of color at the Salon d’Automne, Paris’s fall exhibition of contemporary art. Their paintings, inspired by Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Signac, simplified design and liberated color from its descriptive functions, using it instead as an exuberant vehicle of expression and pictorial construction. A critic described the artists as fauves ("wild beasts") and the label stuck for this first modern art movement of the twentieth century.


Raoul Dufy, who had received a traditional art training in his native Le Havre and then in Paris, was immediately and decisively affected by his encounter with the Fauves. In 1905, shortly after visiting the Salon d’Automne, Dufy painted this Fauvist work, which depicts Ste-Adresse, the beach at Le Havre.