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mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

Susanna and the Elders

Raoul Dufy

Susanna and the Elders - Raoul Dufy

c. 1945
oil on Isorel panel
40cm x 50cm
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou
© ADAGP, Photo CNAC/MNAM, Dist. RMN / Jean-François Tomasian

View this work in the Bathing exhibition

The work

Susanna and the Elders, painted in 1945, belongs to the second period, by which time Dufy had long abandoned the legacy of Cézanne and Matisse. His lines were softer, the colors more washed-out. As for Susanna, she has lost her sensuality, her eroticism and even the interest of the sleepy elders. As if Dufy himself no longer believed in the power of his painting.

The artist

There are two Dufys, corresponding to the pre- and post-World War One periods. The first is the adolescent who attended evening classes at the Beaux-Arts in Le Havre (where he was born in 1877), who met Othon Friesz and later Marquet, and who became part of Matisse's Fauvist movement in 1905. The second is the society artist who designed fabrics for the fashion designer Paul Poiret and, until his death in 1953, was involved in both theatre set design and interior design for bourgeois homes.