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

Berck, L'appareillage des barques

EUGÈNE BOUDIN (1824-1898)
Berck, L'appareillage des barques
signed and dated 'E Boudin. 90-' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 x 25 ¾ in. (45.7 x 65.3 cm.)
Painted in 1890
Hippolyte Camp, Marseille.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, London, 31 March 1987, lot 2.
Richard Green Fine Paintings, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owners.
R. Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Paris, 1973, vol. III, p. 28, no. 2624 (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

Berck, L’appareillage des barques belongs to Eugène Boudin’s famed series of northern French coastlines. Having spent much of his formative years in Honfleur and growing up in a family of maritime workers, Boudin was intensely familiar with coastal life: its beaches, harbors and seascapes, its industry and traditions. Painting with his easel outside, Boudin was a pioneer in the en plein air method. This work was executed in 1890, one year after the death of Boudin's wife, after which painting became a source of comfort for him.
Exhibiting Boudin’s representative dramatic horizons, the sky dominates the canvas, meeting the yellow-tinted turquoise water at the lower third point. Boudin transfers the sensory atmosphere of the coast through capturing the change of light onto his canvas. White highlights illustrate the swashing waves, depicting the surging nature of the sea while playing with light and shadow. A hallmark of the Impressionist style, Boudin covers the canvas with dabs of pure color, allowing the viewer’s eyes to do the mixing.
One of the most important precursors of Impressionism, Boudin was ahead of his time in terms of subject matter. Most likely spurred on by his friend, Charles Baudelaire, Boudin broke with convention by portraying, with detached observation, anonymous subjects in his pictures. Baudelaire called for an “artist of contemporary life” and Boudin answered — devoting himself to depicting the modern social experience within the natural world, injecting truth into beauty. This innovative approach to the subject of the landscape proved influential and inspiring to the subsequent generation of Impressionist painters as well as the young Monet who hailed Boudin as his “Master.” Impressionist painters followed Boudin’s footsteps in capturing candid scenes of passer byers, mimicking the effects of photography and immortalizing spontaneous, fleeting encounters amongst strangers. Although the present work depicts the seaside, it is also an industrial scene, capturing an inherently unescapable aspect of the contemporary experience with fishing boats. Strokes of beige and brown illustrate the dynamic movement of the sails.
Situated on the Opal coast, Berck comprises a sandy coast and a fishing village. Berck, L’appareillage des barques depicts local fishermen rather than vacationing bourgeoisie. Simple figures replace silhouettes of elaborate dresses. Boudin captures a snapshot of the figures in their natural state. With pants rolled up to their knees, the locals cluster by the coast, some treading in the lapping waves, tiny in comparison to the expansive canvas. The unique subject masterfully demonstrates Boudin’s diverging fascination with the elegant, well-dressed bourgeoisie and the customs of local communities, elevating the meaning of his scenes of beachgoers through linking different experiences within the modern world and demonstrating his keen eye for social detail.

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