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Eugène Boudin (1824-1898)
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Eugène Boudin (1824-1898)

La plage à Trouville

Eugène Boudin (1824-1898)
La plage à Trouville
signed 'E. Boudin' (lower left); dated and inscribed 'Trouville 84' (lower right)
oil on panel
6½ x 13 7/8 in. (16.5 x 35.2 cm.)
Painted in 1884
Paul Sébastien Gallimard (1850-1929), Paris.
Paul Melchior Robinow, Hamburg, by 1926.
Emily Robinow, Hamburg, the widow of the above and thence by descent to the present owner.
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Lot Essay

Robert Schmit will include this painting in his forthcoming third supplement to the Boudin catalogue raisonné.

The present work is a rediscovery. Unseen in public since at least the 1920s, having been passed down through the family of a Hamburg collector, it joins the small series of Trouville beach pictures painted by Boudin in the summer of 1884 (S.1864-1874, 3747-3748). It is marked out in this series, however, by its unusual orientation towards the town of Trouville. In 1884, success was arriving for Boudin. Three years earlier he had signed a contract with the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel with whom he enjoyed an enlightening correspondence and who, in 1883, staged Boudin's first one-man show. A further reflection of his growing reputation was Boudin's purchase in 1884 of a plot of land outside Deauville, neighbouring Trouville.

Boudin's affinity with his native coast of Normandy, as well as his unswerving exploration of immediacy in his art ('Everything that is painted directly and on the spot has always a strength, a power, a vivacity of touch which one cannot recover in the studio', he wrote), found expression in his beach pictures at Trouville. These works, executed in the brightly toned palette (la peinture blonde) that he had inherited from Corot, came to define Boudin's output, as he himself admitted in a letter to his brother in November 1865: 'I shall do other things, but I will always be the painter of beaches' (quoted in G. Jean-Aubry, Eugène Boudin, d'après des documents inédits, Paris, 1922, p. 62). From the early 1860s onward, Boudin frequently painted the beach at Trouville populated by fashionably dressed bougeoisie. Inspired in part by Baudelaire's elevation of the evocation of modern life into an art form, a contingent factor was also the opening of the railway station for Trouville in 1863 with the subsequent increase in tourism. Boudin also felt his studies of well-dressed tourist as a counterbalance to the pictures of peasants he enjoyed painting during trips to his wife's native Brittany.

Paul Gallimard, the first owner of the present work and the father of the celebrated publisher Gaston, was born into the comfortable embrace of the Parisian haute bourgeoisie. Although his occupation was given in official documents as architect, Gallimard had spent time in the studio of Stanislas Lépine and his interest in painting translated into his early collection of Barbizon paintings. During the Exposition Universelle of 1889, Gallimard met Monet and Rodin at a dinner given in their honour, introducing him to the world of the avant-garde. Shortly afterwards, in December of the same year, Gallimard's first purchase of an Impressionist painting, a Renoir nude, is recorded in the archives of Galerie Durand-Ruel. Other important and bold acquisitions followed quickly: a Monet haystack (W.1272) and a Pissarro London picture (P&V.744) were both bought in early 1891. Gallimard went on to build a substantial collection of Impressionist pictures, particularly rich in Renoir, who executed portraits of both Gallimard's wife, Lucie, and his mistress, Amélie Laurent. Gallimard, in fact, introduced Renoir's work to Maurice Gangnat, his greatest late patron. In total Gallimard's collection numbered some two hundred works, including major pictures such as Corot's Agar dans le désert (R.362; New York, Metropolitan Museum), Daumier's Un wagon de troisième classe (M.I-166; Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada) and Manet's La linge (W.237; Merion, Barnes Foundation).

The present painting was subsequently acquired before 1926 by the Hamburg collector Paul Robinow, possibly through the agency of Paul Cassirer in Berlin, for although the Gallimard collection was never to be dispersed en bloc, Cassirer was the conduit for several of Gallimard's individual disposals. The present work was not included in the posthumous auction of works from Robinow's fine collection of Impressionist painting held at Cassirer's gallery in October 1928. It was kept in the possession of his widow and has remained in the hands of Robinow's decendants until today.


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