Skip Navigation

Raoul Dufy

Skip Side Navigation

Featuerd Collection

Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer



Raoul Dufy (France, 1877–1953)
The Beach of Sainte Adresse,
(La Plage de Sainte-Adresse), 1905
Oil on canvas
18 1/8 x 21 5/8 in.
Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Bequest, 2000


In 1905, Raoul Dufy encountered the work of Henri Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, and others at the Salon d’Automne, Paris’s fall exhibition of contemporary art. Dubbed les Fauves, or the “wild beasts” by critic Louis Vauxcelles, the artists used riotous, non-representational color and abstract form, while building on the earlier examples of Vincent van Gogh and Les Nabis. Although Dufy had won a scholarship to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1900, he disliked the academy and embraced abstraction after his visit to the Salon d’Automne. Dufy was drawn, in particular, to Matisse’s painting Luxe, Calme, et Volupté (1904; Georges Pompidou Center, Paris) and began to experiment in paintings such as La Plage de Sainte-Adresse. The beach at Sainte-Adresse, located near Dufy’s native Le Havre in the region of Normandy, was a popular tourist destination and a favorite subject of Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet, both of whom had influenced Dufy in years previous. The familiar locale offered Dufy an opportunity to focus primarily on a new technique emphasizing an expressive handling of paint and color. He pared down the figures on the promenade to essential forms, although it is still possible to identify a nurse pushing a stroller, and reduced the features of the beach to swaths of varied color. Warmer colors like orange and red advance toward the viewer, while the cooler colors retreat, creating a sense of topography and recessional space. For Dufy, the subject was little more than a vehicle for the manipulation of color and form. As he would later argue, “the subject itself is of no account; what matters is the way it is presented.”