Marcel Dreyfus (1899-1985) was born in Paris, and subsequently changed his family name to Dyf. As a youth he spent his holidays in Paris and Normandy, here he observed the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements which proved a strong influence on his later painting career. Dyf originally studied engineering and in 1918, at the completion of his studies, travelled to Morocco to work on the construction of a harbour. It was here, captivated by the light and landscape that his thoughts turned towards painting.
Dyf moved to Arles in Provence in the south of France in 1922, where he bought a studio and began zealously painting the inspirational landscapes that were new to him. Entirely self-taught, he remained in Arles for thirteen years before returning to Paris in 1935, taking over the studio of the artist Maximilian Luce. Dyf’s reputation grew and he received a number of public commissions. In 1932 he painted a series of the four seasons for the Hotel de Ville in Saint-Martin de Crau and the same year a series of historical frescoes for the Hotel de Ville in Saintes Maries de la Mer. Subsequent commissions included a stained glass window for the church of St. Louis, Marseilles and the decoration of the Hotel de Fêtes at College Ampère, Arles.
During World War II Marcel Dyf joined the Resistance and was based in Correze. After the war Marcel Dyf held exhibitions of his work in some of the major cities in France. In 1950 he acquired a studio in Cannes, here he met his wife, Claudine, in 1954. Claudine was 19 years old, 36 years younger than he. They married in 1956 and she devoted her life to travelling with Marcel Dyf, continually looking for new scenes to paint. Indeed Claudine featured in a large number of Marcel Dyf's paintings. Summers were spent at Port Navalo, then at Arzon in Brittany, where in 1961 they built a home. Winter visits to Provence provided subjects for his paintings and maintained long-standing friendships.
Known for his Impressionistic style, Dyf originally took inspiration from the Old Masters, particularly Rembrandt, Vermeer and Tiepolo. A painter of genre, portraits and still life, it was for his landscapes that Dyf made his reputation, his ability to capture the light and landscape of Provence, in his studio overlooking the Rhone. His landscapes and still life are infused with light and a rich yet elegant palette.
A member of L'Ecole Francais, Marcel Dyf's fame rapidly spread outside his native France and a number of successful exhibitions of his work were held in the USA and Great Britain. Marcel Dyf exhibited widely in France at the Salon des Artistes Francais, Salon d'Automne & Salon des Tuilleries, and in the USA and Great Britain. In 1950 was invited to exhibit at the International Exposition des Beaux Arts at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, from which he received highly complementary reviews.
In 1956 Dyf formed a relationship with the art dealer Sir Christopher Wade in London, which spread Dyf’s fame beyond continental Europe to the United Kingdom and the United States. In America Dyf became highly successful and sought after amongst prominent patrons, one of whom, Charles Masson, donated a seascape to The White House, while Ruth and Bill Killgallon not only formed a large collection of Dyf’s work, but were to remain lifelong friends. Through his London-based gallery Frost and Reed, Dyf exhibited in London, New York, Dallas, San Francisco and other major cities worldwide. His work is to be found in museum collections, as well as distinguished private collections.