History And Context
In 1905, deeply affected by Matisse’s painting Luxe, calme et volupté, 1904, Raoul Dufy began his lifelong exploration of color and line, joining the fauve pursuit of a freer technique that liberated both elements from descriptive function. Subsequent study of Cézanne and work with Braque brought greater structure to his compositions.
As early as 1930, Duncan Phillips had written of the “skill and bravura” of Dufy’s painting, and of the keen understanding of the “narrow path of technical discipline” that lay behind Dufy’s finesse. The Opera, Paris was shown in the 1941 Phillips exhibition “The Functions of Color” in a grouping that included Charles Burchfield, Stuart Davis, Karl Knaths, and John Marin; it was intended to demonstrate “Calligraphic Color and Color in Calligraphy.” Phillips likened Dufy’s work to oriental art and French impressionism, because of the “ornamental continuity of the lines” and its “form-dissolving prismatic light.”