Bateau échoué belongs to a series of landscapes which Degas executed most probably in the autumn of 1869, after a summer trip to Beuzeval, in Normandy - a resort where the Morisot family, whom the artist was befriending at the time, had been taking holidays at an old mill, belonging to the portriat painter Léon Riesener, the cousin of Delacroix. Degas' entire visit was spent on the short stretch of coast between Villers and Houlgate, and immediately beyond, at Dives-sur-Mer. The powerful pastels he produced, which R. Kendall considers 'among the seminal achievements of his pre-Impressionist years' (op. cit., p. 86) are critically referred to as the 'Dives pastels', from the stretch of coast which most impressed the artist in his solitary, intensely fecund Norman stay. It is through this complex, highly modern group of landscapes that Degas gained confidence with pastel - a medium which he had seriously approached immediately before his departure from Paris to the Channel, by completing his first major portrait in pastel, Mme Thédoore Gobillard, née Yves Morisot (L. 214, Metropolitan Museum, New York). Exploring this technique with new a creative strength, he chose to depict a world apparently without anecdote, without emphasis and almost without a coherent subject. In reality, the Dives pastels are poignantly descriptive, factual and almost particularised, whilst paying homage to the high tradition of Romantic landscape painting, from Turner to Friedriech and Courbet, filtered through the pre-abstract aestheticism of Whistler. As R. Kendall pointed out '...With a perversity of orientation that was to distinguish many of his landscape activities, Degas seems to have turned his back on the fine roads and architecture, the 'aristocratic' visitors and the discreet bathers of these resorts... By neglecting the boulevards of Cabourg and Houlgate, Degas may simply have exercised his right to solitude; by disregarding the landmarks and the natural features of the area, such as the cliffs at Houlgate painted by Huet; Riesener and Morisot, he detached himslef from a localised painting tradition; but by opting for the harbour-front at Dives, Degas chose the least glamourous and the least tractable material from a celebrated stretch of coastline... In positioning himself at Dives and observing its traffic, by emphasising the (...) quotidian, and by avoiding the chic of the promenades, Degas distanced himself from many of the assumptions and practices of his day. His pictures of fishing boats, deserted jetties and provincial railway tracks remind us of his independence of vision, just as his views of empty beaches hint at a temperamental distinction from many of his peers... before long, his bird's-eye views and sequetial scenes would achieve currency in other guises, and his taste for the neglected side of the landscape, and for its unstudied and unsung poetry, would find other forms of expression' (op. cit, p. 97).