- Eugène Boudin
- Les dunes à Étaples
- Signed, dated and inscribed E Boudin 90 Etaples (lower right)
- Oil on canvas
- 14 1/4 by 23 1/4 in.
- 36.3 by 59 cm
Félix Gérard, Paris
Sale: Sotheby's, London, April 24, 1968, lot 67
Lord G. Canning (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collection, New York
Robert Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, vol. 3, Paris, 1973, no. 2607, illustrated p. 22
Les Dunes à Étaples is a beautiful example of one of Boudin’s favorite subjects: windswept coastal scenes. Boudin traveled to Étaples several times as his life followed a consistent pattern of annual travel to favored sites in Normandy and Brittany, as well as Bordeaux, and in the 1890s the French Riviera.
A fishing port at the mouth of the river Canche, Étaples inspired Boudin with its unique quality of light along the Côte d'Opale, and by the color and vitality of the local fishing community. Boudin prefigured Impressionism with his acute and subtle awareness of atmospheric luminosity, with particular emphasis on passing effects of wind-blown cloud and sea. In the present work we see the soft, wide sandy shores under a bright Channel sky with fleecy clouds accented by white, blue and grey, all enlivened by the red of the roof top. Baudelaire attempted to describe Boudin’s talent in portraying these large, luminous skies, so predominant in this work, “In the end all those clouds with their fantastical formations and lighting effects, the chaotic shadows, those green and rose immensities suspended and superimposed on one another, the yawning furnaces, the firmaments of crumpled, curled or torn black and violet satin, the horizons in mourning or streaming with molten metal, all these splendors arise in the brain like strong drink or the eloquence of opium” (as quoted in Peter C. Sutton, Boudin: Impressionist Marine Paintings (exhibition catalogue), Peabody Museum of Salem, 1991).