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L’Entrée au Port / The Entrance to the Port



Jean Dufy (1888-1964)
L’Entrée au Port / The Entrance to the Port
oil on canvas
AGLC 289 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Jean Dufy probably painted this canvas at a date close to that of his Le Pont de Grenelle (see pp. 246247) around 1925-1930, as was kindly confirmed by Mr Jacques Bailly, the author of the painter’s catalogue raisonné. It is strongly possible that this is a view of the port of Le Havre. Indeed, Jean Dufy, like his brother Raoul (1877-1953), never stopped painting the harbour of his childhood, even though, throughout his career, a great variety of subjects was imposed on him. Also, unlike the view of the Bridge of Grenelle in Paris, this composition features no clearly defined human figures, as if the painter wished to concentrate on the signs of movement (or lack thereof) of the boats, whether sailboats or steamers, on an expanse of shimmering water delineated by a horizon of construction and cranes. As in other such compositions, the sky, reduced to a band at the top part of the painting, is treated in a manner very similar to a stretch of water, the painter having worked his canvas like a space without depth, punctuated by the vibration of the colours and graphic notations suggesting certain identifiable elements. This dynamic vision, preserving the spontaneity of a sketch, contrasts with compositions of the same theme and the same period, which generally underscore the rigorous organisation of the different planes; it also points to the profound difference in style and spirit between Raoul and Jean Dufy when choosing similar subjects: simplicity, construction and transparent tones prevail in Jean’s work, while Raoul delighted in often humorous juxtapositions of decorative elements, festoon-shaped waves and smoke-like vapours fusing in the sky in a palette of saturated tones.

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About the artist

The younger brother of Raoul Dufy (see below), he moved in 1912 to Montmartre. Until after World War I, when he could paint in earnest, he earned a living by making designs for textiles and porcelain, which he continued to do throughout his career. He quickly reached a mature style, characterised by balanced compositions, sketchy graphic details and transparent, bright tones. In his oil paintings and watercolours, he depicted musicians, flowers, interiors, harbours, landscapes and cityscapes, most especially of Paris.

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