Many artists have obsessions, painting the same subjects over and over. The Palais de la Jetee was an obsession for Raoul Dufy. A set of tea rooms, promenade and casino, it stood on a pier off the Nice seafront.
The pier was designed in 1870 and built in 1883, though four days before it’s opening it burnt down. This design was in an indian style, likely influenced on the Brighton Pavilion.
The pier, smoldering after the fire.
It was then redesigned and completed in 1891. This new construction was likely made more of cast-iron, for a quicker build. After the Great Exhibition of 1851, glass and iron buildings became popular for exhibition sites as they were quick to construct and cheaper to make. Part of the intention to build it was to attract tourists to Nice and this new build was dubbed the ‘crystal casino’.
The pier after the fire, 1888
Below is another postcard, likely mis-coloured by someone who had never been, but it shows the casino in the full summer season with the cafes lining the coast. The pier was closed during the Second World War and the German army stripped it of metal. There was then a bond scheme for people to reinvest in it, but this failed and it was then dismantled.
It is this second pier that fascinated Dufy. Was it so mesmeric to him? Or was it that it was a popular subject and easier to sell paintings of a happy holiday location? The fashion of the Côte d’Azur coast was at its peak at this time.
I thought I would also show one of the proposed designs for the pier and then some postcards of the interior.