Dufy, Study for End of the Day at Le Havre

Raoul DUFY (1877-1953), Study for End of the Day at Le Havre, ca. 1900, oil on canvas, 65.6 x 80.4 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel — © ADAGP, Paris, 2013
Raoul DUFY (1877-1953), Study for End of the Day at Le Havre, ca. 1900, oil on canvas, 65.6 x 80.4 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel — © ADAGP, Paris, 2013
In 2012, with the help of the FRAM Haute-Normandie and the Amis du Musée association, MuMa was able to acquire an artwork from Raoul Dufy's youth portraying the Quai Colbert at Le Havre.

Since then, additional research has identified it as the painting exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1901 under the title End of the Day at Le Havre. This was a major discovery, since it was determined to be the first artwork Dufy showed in public.
The year 1900 was marked by labour conflicts in the port of Le Havre and ended on a note of great tension with the threat of a general strike. This was when the workers succeeded in reducing the workday to eight hours.
 
So the "end of the day" at the port, featuring dockers heading home after work, was a rather daring choice of subject for a Salon piece. Furthermore, the dark realism that characterizes the work lends it a "manifesto" feel that would not be pursued in Dufy's work.
Kept in the artist's family along with its preparatory study, the painting seems to have been voluntarily "forgotten", undoubtedly because it was too atypical, or even too politically engaged about a tense issue in Le Havre.
 
The preparatory sketch helps shed light on the development of the project. Not only does the subject evolve, with the addition of the elderly man in the definitive work, but its treatment changes significantly too. Moving from a style that still retains an Impressionist influence, the sketch gives way in the Salon painting to a highly dark and impasted treatment that reveals a stronger temptation for realism. This study is a valuable testament to the esthetic explorations, and even hesitations, of the artist.
Raoul DUFY (1877-1953), End of the Day at Le Havre, 1901, oil on canvas, 99  x 135 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel — © ADAGP, Paris, 2014
Raoul DUFY (1877-1953), End of the Day at Le Havre, 1901, oil on canvas, 99  x 135 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel — © ADAGP, Paris, 2014

Works acquired in 2013 (3)

Raoul DUFY (1877-1953), Study for End of the Day at Le Havre, ca. 1900, oil on canvas, 65.6 x 80.4 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel — © ADAGP, Paris, 2013
Raoul DUFY (1877-1953), The Port of Le Havre, 1900, oil on canvas, 37.2 x 45.8 cm
Raoul DUFY (1877-1953), Portrait of Gustave Coquiot, 1924, pencil, 52 x 40.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard