Jean Dufy was born in Le Havre, France in 1888. He came from a large family with creative talent. His father was an amateur musician and his brother was painter Raoul Dufy, who also found acclaim and was an artistic mentor and inspiration to Jean throughout his life. Jean Dufy is thought to have been exposed to the works of Matisse, Derain and Picasso at the 1906 Le Havre exposition. This experience led him to enroll at l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts du Havre, where he studied under his brother, A.E. Othon Friesz and Georges Braque.
Jean Dufy then moved to Paris to live with his brother, with a small scholarship to study with Bonnat. While in Paris, he met Matisse and the other Fauve painters, whose bright colors inspired his work. Between 1905 and 1920, Dufy experimented with Fauvism and Cubism. He was able to earn money by working on a museum staff designing fabrics, and book illustrations.
By 1914, he showed his first watercolors at the Berthe Weill gallery. During his service in the war, Jean continued painting and drawing the flowers, horses, and landscapes he saw while stationed. In 1916, Jean began decorating porcelain for Théodore Haviland in Limoges.
He moved back to Paris in 1920, where Georges Braque was his neighbor. During this time, his work incorporated intense color with bold effects of light. He was able to exhibit his work extensively and showed at the Salon d’Automne at the Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées and Galerie Bing in Paris, and in New York he showed at Balzac Galleries and Perls Galleries. He also began including musical inspirations into his subject matter. Jean Dufy won a gold medal at the 1925 International Exhibition of Decorative Arts for the “Châteaux de France” set. At this point in his career, his reputation was established and he was commissioned to paint murals for many French public buildings. For the 1937 World’s Fair, Jean Dufy worked with his brother Raoul Dufy to create a large fresco celebrating electricity for the Paris electricity distribution company.
Jean traveled extensively throughout Europe and North Africa between 1950 and 1960 continuing to paint and draw. Jean Dufy died in 1964 in France. He was an internationally renowned painter with works in the collections of European and American museums including the Musée national d’Art moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the Art Institute of Chicago and the MoMA in New York.