RAOUL DUFY (1877-1953) Mozart 25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in (65 x 81 cm)
Lot 45
RAOUL DUFY
(1877-1953)
Mozart 25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in (65 x 81 cm)
Sold for US$ 287,500 inc. premium

Impressionist & Modern Art

13 Nov 2018, 17:00 EST

New York

Lot Details
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF GENERAL MORRIS TROPER
RAOUL DUFY (1877-1953)
Mozart
signed 'Raoul Dufy' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in (65 x 81 cm)

Footnotes

  • Fanny Guillon-Laffaille has kindly confirmed that this work will be included in the second supplement of the Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint de Raoul Dufy currently in preparation.

    Provenance
    Acquired in the late 1940s.



    Rendered in a brilliant palette dominated by cobalt blue, Mozart is a resplendent example of Dufy's mastery of color. Like many of his compositions, the present work is a celebration of color and music. Musicians and musical instruments recur as leitmotifs throughout Dufy's oeuvre, as the musical atmosphere of his childhood ineluctably pervaded his life. Dufy's father, Léon-Marius Dufy, was an organist and conductor while his two brothers, Léon and Gaston, also took up musical professions. Though Dufy was an amateur violinist himself, he preferred to portray the action and musical rhythm of orchestras through paint.

    The present work pays homage to the great composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Dating from the artist's mature oeuvre, Mozart is a prime example of the artist's lifelong exploration of the interrelationships between music and painting. As Guy Hubbard noted, "his style of painting was very much like the vibrating lines and masses of sounds to be heard in great orchestral music" (G. Hubbard, 'Artistic Homage,' Arts & Activities. 2003; 133(5): 24. p. 24).

    Dufy began painting the orchestra in 1902, and compositions dedicated specifically to Mozart began to appear shortly thereafter. While many of these earlier homage works were Cubist in style, Dufy's attention later turned to what is referred to as the 'tonal' style of painting for which one color dominates a scene. Dufy's later canvases are a celebration of color and pattern, stemming back to the fateful moment at the Salon d'Automne of 1905 when he first saw Matisse's  Luxe, calm et volupté, prompting his famous proclamation: "At the sight of this picture I understood all the new reasons for painting, and Impressionist realism lost its charm for me as I contemplated the miracle of the imagination introduced into design and color. I immediately understood the new pictorial mechanics" (quoted in J. Elderfield, The "Wild Beasts:" Fauvism and Its Affinities, New York, 1976, p. 78).

    To Dufy, focusing on one, rich color with few interruptions to the palette engendered in the viewer an emotional intensity akin to the harmonic tonality he sought to capture. For Mozart, Dufy turned away from emphasizing his brushstrokes and juxtaposing contrasting colors in preference of a near monochromatic canvas with slight interruptions of color. The white notation of a symphonic score and the musical staves of a piano in the present work serve as staccato, attention grabbing points, while also being the distinguishing elements found in nearly all of Dufy's tributes to Mozart.

    While the solo piano takes prominence in the present work, warm glowing cellos, violins and trombones surround the piano in simplified forms and are played by the musicians of the symphony orchestra. Suggesting the essential details and mass of the instruments through a network of lines, Dufy gives a rhythm to his work that echoes Mozart's musical phrasing. Mozart is an exuberant expression of the joy Dufy found in music and painting alike. Of Dufy's sonorous, evocative colors, celebrated cellist Pablo Casals once said, "I cannot tell what piece your orchestra is playing, but I know which key it is written in" (quoted in D. Perez-Tibi, Dufy, New York, 1989, p. 292).
Activities
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