Raoul Dufy was born on June 3, 1877 in Le Havre, France and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, as well as with Othon Friesz and Lhuillier. Although inspired by Matisse and resembling him in his devotion to rhythmic line, pure color and decorative effects, Dufy was a painter of great independence and originality.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Fauves, the Cubists, and the Surrealists dominated the art of France. Throughout all of these developments, Dufy went on painting the most highly civilized subjects he could find, the elegant holiday places and events of the rich.
Dufy's palette and his taste for beauty eventually led him to the world of fashion and fabric design. He formed a close relationship with the couturier Paul Poiret, for whose fashion house he designed a logo; he also designed silk fabrics. This association bought him financial security. He eventually became one of the most sought-after illustrators of his day and designed sets and costumes for the theatre as well as upholstery and wallpaper.
One of the largest paintings of modern times was the gigantic mural done by Raoul Dufy for the pavillion of electricity at the 1937 International Exposition in Paris. The finished work, depicting the history and importance of electricity to the 20th century, was 197 feet wide and 33 feet high. Dufy christened it "La Fee Electricite".
After the Exposition closed, Dufy's mural, too big for exhibition, was stored away from public view in 250 sections. Dufy worried about its neglect and sought some way to keep his gigantic work on view. The answer was provided by a Paris pulisher, who proposed that Dufy reproduce the mural as a color lithograph. Dufy set to work in 1951 and shortly before his death in 1953 completed the most ambitious lithography project ever undertaken: three feet high by twenty feet wide, done in twenty-two colors and printed in ten sheets.
He was devoted to America and the American scene, to which he paid two visits. The latter of these visits was in 1951, for medical treatment of his arthritis. Crippling as his ailment was, Dufy did not allow it to halt his work or to diminish his great joy in life. Treatment of his arthritis by injecting cortisone improved his condition so much that he was able to return to his farmhouse in Provence where he painted several hours a day. He died in 1953 at the age of seventy-five.