The Little Palm Tree

Raoul Dufy

La pequeña palmera

Dufy, Raoul

Le Havre, 1877 - Forcalquier, 1953

The Little Palm Tree, ca. 1906

© Raoul Dufy, VEGAP, Madrid, 2015

Signed lower right: ''Raoul Dufy''.
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Oil on canvas

91,5 x 79 cm


Artwork history

  • Mrs. Raoul Dufy, Paris

  • Hotel Drouot, lot 49, Paris, December 8,  1928

  • Sam Salz, Inc., New York

  • Josef  Rosensaft, New York

  • Sotheby’s Auctions,  New York, lot 45, November 11,  1987

  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano, 1987

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection


De Monet à Chagall, Vevey, Musée Jenisch


De Géricault à Matisse, París, Petit Palais, n. 53. Como: "Dans le Jardin"


Capolavori dalla Collezione di Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza: 60º anniversario dell'apertura della Pinacotecca di Villa Favorita, Lugano, Villa Favorita, n. 108, p. 274, lám. p. 275


Del vedutismo a las primeras vanguardias. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, n. 60, p. 192, lám. p. 193

1998 - 1999

Masterworks from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Tokio, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Takaoka, Takaoka Art Museum; Nagoya, Matsuzaka Art Museum; Sendai, Miyagi Museum of Art, n. 80, p. 178, lám. p. 179


Retrospective Raoul Dufy, 1877-1953, Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts - Musée de l'Imprimerie; Barcelona, Museu Picasso - Museu Textil id'Indumentària, n. 27B, p. 87, lám. (solo en Barcelona)

1999 - 2000

Del impresionismo a la vanguardia en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Barcelona, Centre Cultural Caixa Catalunya, p. 128, lám. p. 129


Del post-impresionismo a las vanguardias. Pintura de comienzos del siglo XX en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, n. 15, p. 58, lám. p. 59

2000 - 2001

La Révolte de la couleur. De l'impressionnisme aux Avant-gardes. Chefs-d'oeuvre de la Collection Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bruselas, Musée d'Ixelles, n. 24, p. 78, lám. p. 79


Raoul Dufy. Un Autre regard, París, Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol, p. 47

2008 - 2009

Raoul Dufy. Le plaisir, París, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, n. 27, pp. 54 y 310, lám. p. 55

2010 - 2011

Jardines impresionistas, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Fundación Caja Madrid, n. 115, pp. 274, 275 (lám.)


Raoul et Jean Dufy. Complicité et rupture, París, Musée Marmottan Monet, n. 5, p. 22, lám.

2013 - 2014

Matisse and the Fauves, Viena, Albertina, n. 82, p. 320, lám. p. 138

2014 - 2015

L´expressionnisme en Allemagne et en France. De Van Gogh à Kandinsky. Kunsthaus Zürich, Los Ángeles Country Museum of Art, Musèe des Beaux-arts de Montrèal, pl. 29, cat. 32, p. 41.


Raoul Dufy. Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Madrid. Cat.18, p. 74.


Painting the moderm garden. Monet to Matisse. The Cleveland Museum of Arts, Royal Academy of Arts, London. Cat. 108, p. 244.


Natura en evolució. De van Goyen a Pissarro y Sacharoff. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols. p. 86-87 & 169.

  • -Chassé, C.: Les Fauves et leur temps. París, 1960, p. 41, lám. III.

  • -Laffaille, Maurice: Raoul Dufy. Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint. Geneva, 1972-77, vol. 1 (1972), p. 175, n. 205, lám.

  • -Del vedutismo a las primeras vanguardias: obras maestras de la coleccion Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). [Exhib. Cat. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao]. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 1997, n. 60, p. 192. [Sheet by Ronald Pickvance]

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 2, p. 254, lám. p. 255 [ Sheet by Fanny Guillon-Laffaille]

  • -Munck, Jacqueline: “Le fauvisme populaire de Dufy”. Paris 2008-2009, pp. 18-23, cit. p. 22.

  • -Raoul Dufy. Le plaisir. Hergott, Fabrice [et. al.]. [Exhib. Cat. París, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2008-2009]. París, Paris-Musées, 2008.

  • -Alarcó, P. y Borobia, M. (eds.): Guía de la colección. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2012, p. 286, lám.

  • -L´expressionnisme en Allemagne et en France. De Van Gogh à Kandinsky. Kunsthaus Zürich, Los Ángeles Country Museum of Art, Musèe des Beaux-arts de Montrèal, 2014, pl. 29, cat. 32, p. 41. (Exhib. Cat.).

  • -Raoul Dufy. Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Madrid, 2015. Cat. 18, p. 74. (Exhib. Cat.).

  • -Painting the moderm garden. Monet to Matisse. The Cleveland Museum of Arts, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2016. Cat. 108, p. 244. (Exhib. Cat.).

  • -Natura en evolució. De van Goyen a Pissarro y Sacharoff. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols. p. 86-87  & 169 .[Exhib. Cat.]  [ Sheet by  Juan Ángel López-Manzanares].

Expert report

The date of Le Petit palmier has been subject of debate. In 1972 Maurice Laffaille dated it to “1905”, though in the catalogue raisonné of the painter’s works he included it in a group of paintings of interiors dated to “1907”, prominent among which is Jardin d’hiver, now in a private collection in the United States. In 1997 this similarity in theme led Pickvance to date it later, to Dufy’s trip to Marseille and Martigues in autumn 1907. However, its nuanced colour led him to state that Dufy took some time to assimilate Matisse’s lessons.

Two years later, Le Petit palmier was shown with the date “1907” in the Raoul Dufy retrospective at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon and at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. Christian Briend suggested that Jardin d’hiver had been painted at Dufy’s parents’ house in Le Havre and shown at the Salon d’Automne of 1907 as La Serre[Greenhouse], belonging to M. Druet’s collection.

Nevertheless, although similar motifs are repeated in Jardin d’hiver and Le Petit palmier, such as the motley vegetation and winding path, the style of painting is very different. Whereas the former is notable for the predominant contrast of blues, greens and lilacs in an essentially two-dimensional arrangement, the latter has a marked funnel-like perspective with powerful chiaroscuro contrasts and small touches of colour inherited from neoimpressionism. These differences led Fanny Guillon-Laffaille to rightly move its date back again to “1905”.

Despite the difficulty of establishing a certain date for Le Petit palmier, it seems most likely to be “c. 1906”. Indeed, Le Petit palmier is not related so much to the group of paintings of interiors executed in 1907 as to three slightly earlier canvases on a similar theme: Dans le jardin au Havre, c. 1906; Dans le jardin, c. 1906; and Le jeu d’échecs, 1906. The indoor garden setting is the same, as are the folding chairs (which differ from those featured in the 1907 paintings). But there are further elements in common, for example the contrasting chiaroscuro between the foreground motifs and the surrounding vegetation, and the solid masses of certain objects such as the table and the flowerpot. Unlike from the summer of 1906 onwards, here Dufy does not yet outline forms with thick dark contours but juxtaposes tones instead.

But these are not the only elements that link Le Petit palmier to around 1906 in the painter’s career. The mosaic brushstrokes found in the canvas in the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection can also be seen in other paintings produced that year, such as the aforementioned Le Bal champêtre à Falaise (private collection) andL’Estacade du casino Marie-Christine à Sainte-Adresse (Milwaukee Art Museum), whereas they disappear following the adoption of large colour planes in the summer-autumn of 1906.

Juan Ángel López-Manzanares