Born in 1899 in Paris, Marcel Dyf spent his childhood holidays in Normandy. The artistic climate to which he was exposed in both Paris and Normandy was crucial to his development as an artist. During his youth innovative ideas and new thinking, born of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements, formed ever widening circles of influence in Europe. Swept up in this atmospheer, Dyf decided in his early twenties to give up his career in engineering and become an artist.
He moved to Arles in 1922 to pursue his calling and kept a studio there until 1942. Dyf had little formal artistic training but owed much of his inspiration to the great masters of the past such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. Whilst in Provence, challenged by a new range of colours, light and landscapes and under the same intense sky that lent brilliance to Van Gogh's work, Dyf graduated from painter to artist. He was commissioned to paint a large number of frescoes in Arles and also designed windows for the church of Saint Louis in Marseille.
In 1935 Dyf took a studio in Paris. The city hummed with creative vitality in the 1930's and the artist was both participant and recipient in the atmosphere. Following the invasion in 1940 he left the city and returned to Arles. However, he quickly abandoned his home and joined the resistance. Dyf later moved back to Paris, and finally moved in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. However, in the 1950s, he started wintering in Paris and summering in Cannes, where he attracted the attention of American art collectors.
His work was exhibited and sold at the Petrides Gallery, the Salon d’Automne, the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris as well as galleries in Cannes, Nice, Marseille and Strasbourg. Overseas, it was exhibited at the Frost & Reed Gallery in London.
In the summer of 1954, Dyf met Claudine Godet. Aged just nineteen she was thirty-six years younger than the artist and with her long fair hair, clear skin, vivacity and patience he felt her to be his perfect model. There was an instant rapport between them and her arrival acted as a catalyst bringing Dyf's art forward to the threshold of i's most mature phase. She often features in many of his pieces. They married in 1956 and remained together until Dyf's death in 1985.