Julian Hartnoll
37 Duke Street St. James's · London · SW1Y 6DF · 0207 839 3842
fine artmonger · established 1968
Paintings by Marcel Dyf presented by Frost & Reed and the Julian Hartnoll Gallery
1 December 2012 - 8 December 2012

Frost and Reed are showing a selection of eight paintings by Marcel Dyf (1899-1985) at Julian Hartnolls Gallery with archival material and photographs .

Open Monday - Friday 10.30 - 5.00

Saturday -  Sunday 12.00  - 5.00.  or by appointment

For further information please contact

Fiona Hartnoll  on 07788 663842 or  fiona@julianhartnoll.com

Juliet Byford 020 7839 4645 / 07958 430948 or  juliet@frostandreed.com

Frost and Reed have a long and close association with Marcel Dyf and hold many of the best examples of his work.  There is a longer biography available to view on their website.

Born in 1899, Marcel Dyf grew up in Paris and  spent his childhood holidays in Normandy. The artistic climate to which he was exposed as a youth; the innovative ideas and new thinking born of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements in Paris were formative in his development as a young man.   Swept up in this atmosphere and showing a marked ability for painting,   Dyf decided in his early twenties to abandon  engineering and become an artist. 

In 1922 he moved to Arles where he was to keep a studio  until 1942. Largely self-taught he drew for inspiration on the great masters of the past such as Rembrandt, whom he particularly admired, Vermeer and Tiepolo. It was in Provence, challenged by a new range of colours and light and images and under the same intense sky that lent its brilliance to Van Gogh’s art, that Dyf graduated from painter to artist. During this period Dyf was commissioned to paint a number of large historical and decorative works, mostly frescoes and he also designed windows for the church of Saint Louis in Marseille. 
In 1935 Dyf returned to Paris moving into Maximelien Luce's old studio and immersing himself in the creative vitality and artistic community of the city in the 1930's.  When the Germans invaded he left Paris entering the Résistance in Corrèze and the Dordogne. After the Liberation he returned to Arles to find the studio reduced to rubble in the fighting and retreated, heavy-hearted, to Paris but the pull of the Midi was deep-rooted, so in time he returned and made a new base in Saint Paul-de-Vence. Thereafter he divided his time between Paris and the south. 

 In the first half of the 50s Dyf worked in Paris throughout the winter and spent the summer in Cannes, where he set up a studio-gallery and established a regular following among American visitors to the Riviera. His pictures began to sell regularly through galleries in Cannes, Nice, Marseille and Strasbourg. In Paris he exhibited and sold his paintings through the Salon d’Automne, the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon des Artistes Français.

 In 1955 the first paintings were bought from Dyf by Frost&Reed to be sold in London, thus heralding the formation of a remarkable and enduring relationship between artist and gallery. 

In the summer of 1954, Dyf met Claudine Godat - thirty-six years his junior. With her long fair hair, clear skin, vivacity and patience, she was what the artist felt to be his perfect model.  Her arrival in his life acted as a catalyst, bringing Dyf’s art forward to the threshold of its most mature phase. In 1956, they married and bought a  hunting lodge  near Versailles which became their main home, although each winter they returned to Provence on painting trips. The olive trees, the cane windbreaks and the grey-white crags of the Alpilles provided countless motifs for Dyf’s paintings of Provence, and his artistic and emotional attachment to the area endured to the end of his life. 

In 1960, at Claudine’s insistence, they first visited Brittany and the Golfe du Morbihan. Dyf was enchanted with this remote, beautiful region and he knew he must return to paint there. From that time on the seasons of the year followed the same pattern: autumn was spent at home near Versailles and in the late autumn or early spring Dyf and Claudine drove south and spent six or eight weeks in Provence. In May they left for Brittany, where they spent the summer in the village of Arzon. 

Two or three times a year Frost&Reed would visit Dyf and buy the best of his works for their stock. There followed many years of great fulfilment. The artist was able to devote all his time to painting and through Frost&Reed, his sole world agent, he was guaranteed an outlet for his work. 

To watch Dyf paint was entrancing. Even as an old man, he would stand rather than sit before the easel, working with extraordinary vigour and intense concentration. His palette was a rainbow of fresh colours and his hand continually darted back and forth from the canvas. At intervals he would step back or consider briefly another picture before returning to the easel, his eye refreshed. Usually he sketched straight onto the canvas, which he set up on his travelling easel. He would work on a subject for two or three hours and return the next day, in search of the same light on the landscape. 

If he sketched, it would be in charcoal and he generally made a number of drawings to record the broad proportions and the minutiae of his subject. As soon as he reached home with a group of sketches he would begin work instantly, drawing on his new ideas while the images were still fresh in his mind, so that soon he had pictures in all stages of completion in the studio. He worked on each canvas in the open air whenever possible. If he found himself doing so in a place where his presence drew onlookers, he tolerated their silence but would politely dismiss anybody who disturbed him with as much as one word. 

Throughout these years Dyf principally painted in three areas: Brittany, Provence, and the Ile de France, although he also travelled in Morocco, Venice, the United States, Holland and England. His artistic legacy will be a lasting one; he painted the landscape of France with an intensity of feeling that entirely matched his personality and with a vigour that never tired. His life yielded a rich harvest of work whose quality, once established, did not dwindle in his later years. His art is youthful, yet traditional, with a sensational use of colour. His paintings give an outward appearance of being simple, undemanding compositions, but the process of creating them was exactly the opposite - it was complex, rigorous, disciplined, considered, measured. The final effect, though, is to produce an art form that is so disarmingly uncomplicated that it remains, as the artist wished, accessible to all. 

In the thirty years since Dyf’s death in 1985, Frost&Reed have continued to deal in the very best examples of his work.   The gallery's close association with Claudine has continued and she helps research and confirm the location of the many fine landscapes that pass through their hands.

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