Title: Beach at Trouville
Artist: Eugene Boudin (1824-1898)
If I have become a painter I owe it to Eugene Boudin.
Tourism and vacations by the ocean were a relatively new experience around the mid-nineteenth century when Beach at Trouville was created by Eugene Boudin, an early mentor of future Impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926). Both artists were from Le Havre on the Normandy coast, the older Boudin encouraging an 18 year old Claude to use nature as his inspiration, especially the sea. Boudin’s marine scenes have been popular with viewers and collectors like Paul Mellon and his sister Ailsa Mellon Bruce, whose contribution to the National Gallery of Art, now includes a core of numerous paintings, watercolors, and drawings at the museum.
Is it the figures that attract us initially? Either sitting in their solid wooden chairs or strolling or riding across the sandy beach. Their attire distinctly different from 21s century bathers. For instance, the women clothed in long flowing dresses and matching capes, the height of fashion then. Hats, too, imperative as well as parasols, so essential to protecting their owners from the sun. Even the children are bundled up against the elements: the tiny toddler in white, accompanying his mother while holding a shovel or the two boys (one in a read-orange top) playing closer to the waves.
Does anyone own that spaniel-like dog in the front? Possibly a pet? Or maybe s a local canine denizen of Trouville who has happened to wander into the area?
Yet, the spectacular view of the sky and water fills up almost three quarters of the canvas: from the sailboats speeding across the horizon, pushed by the wind to the swirling mass of rather ominous clouds above. Perhaps signaling the approach of an impending storm? Or will the prospect of inclement weather quickly pass? Guaranteeing the uninterrupted pleasure of these long ago tourists, who like us, simply wanted to enjoy a leisurely summer day without worries or cares.
In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
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