The Henley Regatta

Raoul Dufy • Painting, 1933, 65.5×49.5 cm
About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Marina, Fantasy
Technique: Gouache, Pencil
Materials: Paper
Date of creation: 1933
Size: 65.5×49.5 cm
Artwork in selections: 4 selections

Description of the artwork «The Henley Regatta»

The Henley Royal Regatta has been held in England since 1839. The regatta is traditionally loved by aristocrats. In 1933—1934 Dufy spent several months in England, and he did not abandon his passion for parties, beauty and lightness. He was repeatedly reproached for this, he was said to fly away into his beautiful dreams, being cut off from life and so on... Raoul Dufy said, "People love holidays, and why shouldn’t an artist?" Dufy is accused of many inconsistencies and liberties in this picture. Indeed, the Thames does not look like that, it looks like the Mediterranean Sea in Nice!

The banks of the Thames cannot bend like they are shown by Dufy. And most importantly, how could a Venetian gondola get to an English regatta (in the centre, just above the signature)? But Dufy was not at all eager to make a pictorial report! He portrayed a feast, idleness, pleasure in life, relaxation. He originated from a bourgeois family and he did not show any desire to get into the upper strata of society, even during the period of glory, although Raoul Dufy was very fond of portraying high society. Joy, carelessness, cheerful, idle people, who are not preoccupied with everyday issues — these are the favourite subjects of Raoul Dufy.

The English flags in the upper part of the painting look disproportionately large, they seem to hang right in the sky. By and large, the water here does not look like the Thames or even the sea, but like a pretty small lake in an English estate. The contrast with the huge flags gives a special intimacy to what is happening under them. The figures and sailing ships are depicted in Dufy’s favourite style — they are outlined with light graceful lines, painted with bold and seemingly careless shining strokes. In this world, there are no problems, wars or even sharp disturbances of the exchange rate. Everything happens easily and pleasantly here, with a sense of the joy of life and with that “seeming negligence”, which is the grace that Raoul Dufy skillfully mastered.

Author: Aliona Esaulova