Mellow yellow

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
The design of the classical violin dates back to the end of the 15th century. Almost as soon as there were violins, artists were painting them: they appear in several works of the Italian Il Garofalo (1481-1559) and in countless others, from 17th-century Flemish still-lifes to Picasso and the Cubists.

As violins evolved, so the music written for them proliferated. Musicians, in turn, became very frequently painted: no celebration, street scene or feast was complete without some fiddlers striking up.

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) was particularly fond of music, painting on occasion whole orchestras.

Though associated early with the Fauves (1905-7), post-Impressionists who explored intense colour, Dufy was never really part of any artistic grouping. Often insolvent, he died crippled with arthritis. Yet his paintings sing with colour and dance with line: lightness of touch, untrammelled composition and larky draughtsmanship combine, as in this late gouache of a Yellow Violin.

Victoria Neumark


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