The French painter Raoul Dufy is best known for his colorful scenes of Parisian life, and the light, urbane feeling that characterizes his paintings carries through to his woven silk designs. But his block-printed linen textiles show a different set of influences. The depiction of the cutting blade on this combine, as well as the propeller-like feeling of the sheaves of wheat, may have been inspired by the Italian futurists, with their interest in speed and motion. And Soviet propaganda textiles of about the same period, with their focus on the humble agricultural worker, may have been as much of an influence as the pastoral toiles de Jouy with which Dufy’s designs are often compared.
Dufy learned the woodcut technique in the studio of Léon Bonnat, and early in his career spent a productive few years creating woodcut illustrations for Guillaume Apollinaire’s Bestiaire. Through that connection, he met fashion designer Paul Poiret; the two worked together continuously over their careers. First Poiret set up La Petite Usine, a design studio modeled on the Wiener Werkstatte, to produce Dufy’s designs. Later Dufy designs were produced by the firm Bianchini Ferier, but he continued to create exclusive textiles for Poiret’s fashions.