Alex. Reid & Lefevre (The Lefevre Gallery), London
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wemyss-Honeyman, Scotland (by 1925)
Private Collection (by descent from the above)
Anita Friedman Fine Arts, New York (on consignment from the above)
Acquired from the above on September 7, 1993
Fife, Scotland, Kirkcaldy Museum, Inaugural Exhibition, 1925, no. 122
Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery, The Spirit of France, 1943, no. 14
Boudin's lively depictions of populated beaches provide insight into the leisure activities of 19th century France. The present work depicts a day at the shore in Berck-sur-Mer in northern France, where the sun that day was apparently strong enough to warrant the use of parasols. Completed the same year that Monet was painting his famous scenes of beaches of Normandy, the scene offers an intriguing glimpse of the different social strata that gather at this particular venue. Boudin portrays here not only the refined ladies and gentlemen of the haute bourgeoisie, but also their support staff. In the center of the composition stand a milkmaid and her cow as they are approached by a pair of ladies and a well-dressed child. A similar type of grouping also appears in the background of the composition. We can imagine the exchange that might be going on between these two classes of people. Although the beach may be on the outskirts of urban society, Boudin reminds us that it is yet another ground for commerce and the activities of modern life.
Jean Selz has written how Boudin was fascinated by the aesthetic possibilities of depicting people on the beach: "What fascinated Boudin .... was not so much the sea and ships but the groups of people sitting on the sand or strolling along the beach: fine ladies in crinolines twirling their parasols, pompous gentlemen in top hats, children and little dogs playing on the sand. In the harmony of the colours of the elegant clothes he found a contrast to the delicacy of the skies" (Jean Selz, Eugène Boudin, New York, 1982, p. 57).
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wemyss-Honeyman were significant benefactors of the Kirkcaldy Museum in Fife, Scotland.
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