Étretat, La Falaise d’Amont, 1891

by Eugène Boudin

In the 1890s Boudin enjoyed a final period of creative energy. 1890 was a year of intense work in which he had to respond to the increasing demand for his paintings and also prepare works to be sent to various exhibitions (Durand-Ruel was planning a major monographic exhibition that December). The artist turned to his favourite sources of inspiration: the sea, ports and beaches. He travelled to the Mediterranean, Holland and to his native region of Normandy where he spent part of the summer and autumn.

Dimensions: (unframed) 14.8 x 18.3 ins/ 37.3 x 46.2 cm
Signature: Signed ‘E. Boudin’ and dated (lower right)
Medium: Oil on panel

Catalogue No: 4884 Categories: ,

We know that between Boudin often stayed at the famous resort of Étretat on the Normandy coast. Situated north-east of Le Havre, Étretat was merely a small fishing village at the beginning of the 19th century with less than one thousand inhabitants. However from the 1830s it became a fashionable holiday resort and by the end of the century had 2,200 permanent inhabitants, a number which increased enormously over the summer months.

The fame of the place was (and is) based on its rugged rocky coastline, particularly the two cliffs which frame the bay. To the north-east (looking to the right if facing the sea) there is a sloping headland with a low arch known as the Porte d’Amont. On the opposite side is a higher (more than 80 metres) and more spectacular cliff called the Porte d’Aval with its divided summit known as the Aiguille. As the visitor gets closer to Amont from Aval this peak moves around until it can partly be seen through the arch.

Camentron, Paris;
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the above on July 26, 1899)
Private collection, France;
Private collection, France;
Thence by descent to Private Collection, United Kingdom


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Boudin’s work can be compared to that of Corot in that he was largely self-taught and that they both worked directly from nature. Boudin’s most common subject were landscape paintings of harbours and beaches of the coast of northern France.


Eugène Louis Boudin was one of the first landscape painters to paint outdoors; following him, the Impressionists painted ‘en-plein-air.’ Boudin was a marine painter, and an expert at rendering seascapes. His pastels garnered a eulogy by Baudelaire, and Corot called Boudin the ‘King of the Skies.’


Born at Honfleur, on the French coast, and son of a ship’s captain, Boudin never knew a life without the sea. The centre of his earl life was Le Havre, where he opened a framing shop. The shop was visited by local painters including Jean-Francois Millet, who encouraged Boudin to learn to paint himself. Boudin visited Paris and studied at the Louvre. In this way he established contact with painters of the Barbizon school – primarily Jean-Baptists Camille Corot. In about 1856, Boudin met Claude Monet and introduced him to outdoor painting, which was hugely influential to Monet. The two continued to work together into the late 1860s.

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Sterling, Charles and Salinger, Margaretta, French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. XIX-XX Centuries, Volume 3, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1967, p. 134.
R. Schmit, Eugène Boudin 1824-1898, vol. III, Paris, 1973, p. 113, no. 2870 (illustrated)

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