In Epsom, painted in 1937, Dufy has captured the moment at the beginning of the race, when the elegant spectators stroll leisurely in the foreground waiting for the competition to begin. The stillness of the race course with its cool greens creates a stark contrast against the colorful crowds. Dufy employed couleur-lumière to these works, a technique that emphasized color over the shading properties of black and white, and allowed the artist to convey light in a distinct way. As Dora Perez-Tibi describes, "these racecourse scenes--whether in France, at Deauville, Lonchamp or Chantilly or, in England, at Epson, Ascot or Goodwood--allowed Dufy to put his couleur-lumière theory into practice...he decided to convey light by means of colour; the absence of colour represents the unlit area...For Dufy, the balance of the composition comes from the distribution of all the points of the composition " (in Dufy, New York, 1989, pp. 158-162). Epsom reveals Dufy's extraordinary ability to convey the vivacious atmosphere that pervades the spectacle and social event of horse racing.
Raoul Dufy was a prominent French painter whose prolific career spanned over 50 years. In addition to his vocation as a painter, Dufy also worked as an illustrator (Apollinaire’s Bestiaire), fabric designer (for Paul Poiret) and decorator (the Fée Électricité for the Palais de la Lumière at the Exposition Universelle in 1937). Dufy’s artistic training began when he and Friesz were school friends and together studied the works of Boudin in the museum in Le Havre. In 1900, Dufy received a local grant that enabled him to attend the l’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he joined Bonnat’s studio.
Shortly thereafter in 1902, he was introduced to Berthe Weill, who showed his work in her gallery. Matisse’s Luxe, Calme et Volupté, which Dufy saw at the Salon des Indépendants in 1905, was a revelation to the young artist and directed his interest towards Fauvism. With Friesz at Falaise, Marquet at Sainte-Adresse, and Braque at l’Estaque, he expressed his fondness for pure color and the charm of beach scenes. It was only after the war that he found his own personal style, producing rapid but precise drawings of frequently plunging perspectives, to which clear colors were applied with a kind of casual freedom.
Museum Collections Include:
Hermitage, St. Petersburg; The Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Accademica Carrara, Bergamo; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland; Museum of Provencal Art & History, Grasse; Tate Gallery, London; Musee Royal des Beaux-Arts, Copenhagen; Musee des Beaux-Arts, Le Havre; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris