Born in Trouville, France, Eugène Boudin is known for his paintings of the sea. In 1835 his family moved to Le Havre, where Boudin began working as an assistant to his father. There he came into contact with local artists and exhibited the paintings of Constant Troyon (1810-1865) and Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) in his stationery shop, who, along with Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767-1855) and Thomas Couture (1815-1879) encouraged young Boudin to follow an artistic career.
At the age of 22 he abandoned the world of commerce, began painting full-time, and travelled to Paris and then through Flanders. In 1850 he earned a scholarship that enabled him to stay in Paris, although he often returned to paint in Normandy and, from 1855, made regular trips to Brittany.
He was profoundly influenced by Dutch 17th Century masters and on meeting the Dutch painter Johan Jongkind (1819-1891), who had already made his mark in French artistic circles, Boudin was encouraged by him to paint outdoors (en plein air).
In 1857 Boudin met the young Claude Monet who spent several months working in Boudin’s studio. They remained lifelong friends and Monet later paid tribute to Boudin’s early influence. Boudin joined Monet and his young friends in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, but never considered himself a radical or innovator.
He debuted at the Paris Salon in 1859 and received a third place medal at the Paris Salon of 1881 followed by a gold medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle. In 1892 he was made a knight of the Légion d’honneur.