Dufy became involved in the earliest experiments of Cubism, travelling to Provence to retrace Cézanne’s steps. His debt to the master of Aix is still apparent in 1913, but the style is different. The colours are brighter, and the brushwork looks like tapestry. At first glance, L’Estaque is hard to read. Then we notice a path with a few steps in between two large rocks leading to a tree with one branch lopped off and two cypresses on the left. Cézanne’s famous maxim is exemplified here: “Nature should be treated as cylinders, spheres and cones. It should all be aligned in correct perspective.” For Dufy, as for Cézanne, his handling of light remained the essential concern. When one compares L’Estaque to contemporary wooded landscapes skilfully rendered in Cézanne’s manner by his old Fauve comrades, André Derain and even de Vlaminck in Rueil Near Paris, it is apparent that Dufy had created his own original aesthetic.
© Estate of Raoul Dufy / SOCAN (2021)