1888-1964 | French
Signed and dated "Jean Dufy 29" (lower right)
Oil on canvas
The over-the-top energy and excitement of the French circus are captured in this important oil by the French artist Jean Dufy. The circus was one of Dufy's favorite themes, and he returned to it repeatedly throughout his career as the subject offered him a true artistic spectacle to lay down on canvas. For years, he explored the animated and joy-filled world of circus entertainers such as clowns, bareback riders, musicians and trapeze artists, resulting in compelling, vibrant portraits like Les trapezistes that pull the viewer into this magical world. Another work on the circus theme executed by the artist can be found in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Les trapezistes was painted in 1929, while Dufy was in the midst of a long string of high-profile and successful exhibitions in both Paris and New York, including several appearances at the Salon d’Automne. The present work is itself of museum quality. Composed during a significant period of the artist’s career and containing one of his preferred subjects, Les trapezistes can be counted among Dufy’s most important works. 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 that defines his highly modern style.
Born in Le Havre, Normandy, both Dufy and his famous older brother Raoul showed a talent for drawing at an early age. After his military service, he moved to Paris in 1912, eventually befriending key members of the French avant-garde, including Derain, Braque, Picasso, and Apollinaire. His early watercolors reflect the remarkable influence of this group, as well as his own brother, Raoul.
For 30 years, Dufy also worked as a painter on porcelain at the famous ateliers of Théodore Haviland in Limoges, France, winning a gold medal at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in 1923. He frequently exhibited his painted works throughout Paris and the United States. Today, Dufy's works are found in numerous museums throughout the world, including the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou (Paris), and Museum of Modern Art (New York).
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné currently in preparation and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Jacques Bailly.
Canvas: 21 5/8" high x 18 1/4" wide
Frame: 30 1/4" high x 26 3/4" wide