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Raoul Dufy

The Racecourse in Epsom


Raoul Dufy
Le Havre, France, 1877 – Forcalquier, France, 1953


The Racecourse in Epsom


1937 or 1938


Watercolour and gouache over traces of graphite


50 x 65 cm


Gift of Storrs and Ann McCall, inv. 2015.217


Graphic Arts

Calligraphic lines depict the animated horses, jockeys and spectators milling about at this British racecourse. These highly abbreviated descriptions, as well as the fields of colour, suggest stylistic innovations influenced by Dufy’s significant output in the decorative arts, particularly his textile designs for the famous French fashion designer Paul Poiret. Close inspection reveals horses outlined in brown and highlighted in washes of orange, white or purple. One of the jockeys is suggested by a single curved brush stroke, while others have special attention given to their multicoloured garb, with sleeves painted in a contrasting colour to the bodies of their jackets and jodhpurs. Fashionable spectators sport top hats or long dresses, also delineated in black or brown, coloured in with a single vertical stroke of pink, blue or white.

Dufy depicts this moment before or after the race as one of leisure rather than anticipation, an atmosphere established primarily by the carefree mood of the vast, vibrant expanse of green racetrack in the sun-drenched scene. The absence of any evidence of alteration or labour in Dufy’s expressive line, conveying speed, ease and vitality, adds to the cheerful ambience.

© Estate of Raoul Dufy / SOCAN (2024)

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