Étretat, La Falaise d’Amont, 1891

by Eugène Boudin

P.O.A.

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 37.3 x 46.75 cm/14.75 x 18.25 ins

SIGNATURE: Signed lower right

MEDIUM: Oil on panel

Attracted, like the tourists, by the picturesque scenery, many artists visited Étretat in the 19th century, among them Delacroix, Eugène Isabey, Charles Mozin and Eugène Le Poittevin. However, the most masterful depictions of the place were those by Courbet and Monet of around 1868. Monet returned again between 1883 and 1886 and painted an extensive series of views. Boudin, who knew the Normandy coastline well, only turned his attention to this particular feature (and to its opposite cliff, the Amont) in the 1880s, possibly following the interest of his former pupil, Monet.

 

Catalogue No: 4884 Categories: ,

We know that between 20 September and 3 October he 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.

Attracted, like the tourists, by the picturesque scenery, many artists visited Étretat in the 19th century, among them Delacroix, Eugène Isabey, Charles Mozin and Eugène Le Poittevin. However, the most masterful depictions of the place were those by Courbet and Monet of around 1868. Monet returned again between 1883 and 1886 and painted an extensive series of views. Boudin, who knew the Normandy coastline well, only turned his attention to this particular feature (and to its opposite cliff, the Amont) in the 1880s, possibly following the interest of his former pupil, Monet.

Provenance

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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Literature

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)

Biography

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. Works such as Étretat, La Falaise d’Amont, are informed by a sharp eye for social detail, which he includes discretely as a part of the landscape.
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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