1877-1953 | French
Emprunt 6% Souscrivez
(War Loan 6% Subscribe)
Signed "Raoul Dufy" (lower right)
Gouache on paper
This vibrant gouache on paper by the renowned Raoul Dufy is not only a work of exceptional artistry, but also represents an important period in world history. The piece was a special commission ordered by the French government, who sought to encourage the French people to join in the post-war reconstruction efforts. Following World War I, the French government was destitute. The cost of the Great War had been tremendous not only in lives lost, but also in terms of infrastructure and finances. In order to reclaim its place as a great power on the world stage, France needed funds to reconstruct its key industries, and quickly. Thus, the government turned to one of the most famous French artists of the day - Raoul Dufy - to create this gouache on paper as an advertisement for the country's war bonds.
The extraordinary work represents Dufy's own sense of patriotic duty. Entirely unique in his oeuvre, it is clear that Dufy wished to create something truly special to help his war-torn country. The artist deftly captures the industry of France in the colorful composition, showcasing bridges, buildings, ships and other key elements of the country's infrastructure in order to evoke the viewers' pride, patriotism and willingness to help. The words Emprunt 6% Souscrivez (War Loan 6% Subscribe) are boldly written across the top, seeking subscribers to a 6% interest loan to help rebuild the country - a very healthy return for the age.
The powerful painting represents one of the most effective and extensive patriotic campaigns of all time. France relied heavily on the willingness of its citizens to lend money to the government during World War I. By the war's end, however, the war-weary public required greater incentive to purchase war loans, so higher interest rates as well as extensive public relations campaigns were needed to sell government bonds. With the purchase of a war loan, every person could make a difference - and earn a significant return on their investment. Dufy's exceptional composition appealed to his countrymen's sense of patriotism, duty and pride, resulting in one of the most successful war and reconstruction funding campaigns of the modern age.
Aside from its historic importance, the work is exemplary of Dufy's highly modern and distinctive style. The dynamism of the scene is perfectly translated through the artist's vivacious experiments in color and movement. He combines bold and spontaneous black outlines with broad areas of vivid color, creating dynamic planes that captivate the viewer. The resulting work is colorful and full of vigor, displaying the bright fluidity for which Dufy is so loved.
Born in La Havre, Normandy, both Dufy and his brother Jean showed a talent for drawing at an early age. He would eventually enroll in the École d'Art in La Havre, and later, the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After viewing Matisse's Luxe, Calme et Volupte in 1904, Dufy adopted the bright color and flat compositions of the Fauvists. By 1909, the artist sought more austerity in his painting, and he became drawn to the works of Cézanne and the Cubists. From this point forward, Dufy's compositions presented a blend of the ideals upheld by these two artistic groups. His use of bold lines and colors, dynamic brushstrokes and other painterly qualities found in his paintings are a testament to his unique Expressionist ideals.
This important work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Mme. Fanny Guillon-Laffaille and will be included in her forthcoming supplement to the Catalogue Raisonné des aquarelles de Raoul Dufy.
Paper: 19" high x 25" wide
Frame: 28" high x 33 3/4" wide
Madame Collette van Leer (the artist's niece), Brussels