EUGÈNE BOUDIN (1824-1898)
EUGÈNE BOUDIN (1824-1898)
EUGÈNE BOUDIN (1824-1898)
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EUGÈNE BOUDIN (1824-1898)

Scène de plage

EUGÈNE BOUDIN (1824-1898)
Scène de plage
signed with initials 'E.B.' (lower right)
oil on panel
8 1/2 x 14 in. (21.6 x 35.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1865-1867
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 25 March 1911, lot 5.
Wildenstein & Co. Inc., New York.
Millicent Rogers, New York.
Peter Salm, New York (by descent from the above, 1953).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
R. Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Paris, 1973, vol. I, p. 130, no. 353 (illustrated).
New York, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., Eugène Boudin, November 1966, no. 8 (illustrated; titled Halage de bateau).
Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Corpus Christi, Art Museum of South Texas; St. Petersburg, Museum of Fine Arts; Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts and Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, Louis Eugène Boudin: Precursor of Impressionism, October 1976-June 1977, no. 3 (illustrated; titled Halage de Bateau).

Lot Essay

Boudin’s Scène de plage is one of his quintessential and career-defining beach scenes. One of the first artists to paint en plein air, Boudin, whom Claude Monet hailed as his "Master," was one of the most important precursors of Impressionism. Shunning his studio, he devoted himself to the depiction of the natural world, or in his words, to the "the simple beauties of nature," capturing the changing atmospheric conditions and light effects of the Normandy coastline of France. Like actors on a stage, the figures of Scène de plage are arranged across the wide, panoramic expanse of the beach. Using small, rapid brushstrokes and flashes of bold, pure color, Boudin has not only conjured the subtle nuances of light and the misty weather effects, but he has also captured the spectacle of the finely dressed beach-goers, picturing men in top hats and women in fashionable crinolines and opulent hats holding parasols as they enjoy a day on the beach.
The sea and coastline of northern France, its harbors, ports and wide vistas captivated Boudin throughout his life and provided endless inspiration for his art. Born to a sea captain in Honfleur, before later moving to Le Havre, Boudin knew this coastal area intimately. It has been suggested that it was the marine painter Eugène Isabey who, in 1863, first encouraged Boudin to take the novel trend of Parisian holidaymakers in the fashionable port town of Trouville as the subject of his work. Most likely spurred on by his friend, the poet, Charles Baudelaire, and his fervent belief in the need for artists to take modern life as their subject, Boudin broke with convention by depicting, with detached observation, contemporary life in his pictures. In 1868 he wrote, "[I have been congratulated] for daring to include the things and people of our own time in my pictures… don’t these bourgeois, who stroll on the jetty towards the sunset, have the right to be fixed on canvas, to be brought into the light" (Boudin, quoted in V. Hamilton, Boudin at Trouville, exh. cat., Glasgow Museums, 1992, p. 20). Combining his love and innate knowledge of the coast with a sharp and perceptive gaze of those that populated it, Boudin conceived a new type of landscape painting, one that was inherently rooted in contemporary life, freed from the classicizing grandeur that had characterized this genre up until this point. It was this innovative approach both to the style and subject of the landscape that proved so influential and inspiring to the young Monet, as well as to the subsequent generation of impressionist painters. "Do as I did–learn to draw well and admire the sea, the light, the blue sky," Monet later remembered Boudin telling him, adding, "I owe everything to Boudin and am grateful to him for my success" (quoted in ibid., p. 44).

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