Marcel Dyf was born in Paris on October 7, 1899. Dyf showed an early interest in painting and, as his family holidays were spent in Normandy, the French countryside served as a place of inspiration for his paintings. In 1922, Dyf moved to Arles and established a studio, which he maintained for the next twenty years. Largely self-taught, Dyf admired Rembrandt, Vermeer and Tiepolo, and many observers have noted the influence of Renoir. While working in Arles, he was commissioned to paint several large frescoes in the town halls of Saint Martin-de-Crau and Les Saintes Marles-de-la-Mer. After moving from Arles, he established a studio in Paris where he thrived in the creative culture of the capital.
With the invasion of France in 1940, Dyf returned to Arles, but was forced to abandon his home. Dyf decided to join French resistance forces in Correze and the Dordogne. After the war, he returned to Paris, and established a second studio in Saint Paul-de-Vence. His works were sought after throughout southern France and he exhibited in several Parisian salons. The Petrides Gallery in Paris featured his work three times in 1949, 1951 and 1953.
Dyf established a gallery studio in Cannes in the early 1950s where he gained a following among Americans visiting the Riviera. The London Gallery, Frost and Reed, bought many of Dyf’s paintings, beginning a long professional relationship between the artist and gallery, and enabling Dyf to focus solely on his artistic career. In the summer of 1954, he met his soon-to-be wife Claudine who, only 19 at the time, would become the subject of many of his paintings.