Lot 4
  • 4

Eugène Boudin

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Description

  • Eugène Boudin
  • SCÈNE DE PLAGE À TROUVILLE
  • signed E. Boudin and dated 64 (lower right)
  • oil on board
  • 31 by 48.5cm.
  • 12 1/8 by 19 1/8 in.

Provenance

Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 10th March 1867, lot 7
Private Collection, France (sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 20th April 1874, lot 3)
Arthur Tooth & Sons, London
Mrs Margaret Thompson Biddle, Paris (sale: Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 14th June 1957, lot 7)
Private Collection, France
M. Knoedler & Co., New York
Mr & Mrs Arnold Askin, Katonah, New York (acquired from the above in 1962)
Private Collection 

Exhibited

New York, E. V. Thaw & Co., Eugène Boudin, 1962, no. 19,  illustrated in the catalogue (titled La Plage de Trouville)
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Birth of Impressionism, 1963, no. 9,  illustrated in the catalogue
New York, Coe Kerr Gallery; New York, William Beadleston, Inc. & London, William Beadleston, Inc., The Askin Collection. Paintings, Sculpture, Pastels and Watercolors from the Estate of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Askin, 1989, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Literature

Georges Jean-Aubrey, Eugène Boudin. La vie et l'œuvre d'après les lettres et les documents inédits, Neuchâtel, 1968, illustrated p. 206 (titled Les Crinolines sur la plage de Trouville, as dating from 1874 and with incorrect medium and measurements)
Robert Schmit, Eugène Boudin, 1824-1898, Paris, 1973, vol. I, no. 309, illustrated p. 109

Catalogue Note

Scène de plage à Trouville is a beautiful early example of Boudin's favourite subject, that of fashionably dressed figures on the beach of Trouville (fig. 1). Having settled in Paris after his marriage in 1863, throughout the 1860s and 1870s Boudin travelled every summer to Trouville, where he found the inspiration to paint variations on the themes most dear to him. Jean Selz wrote: 'What fascinated Boudin at Trouville and Deauville 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' (J. Selz, Eugène Boudin, New York, 1982, p. 57).

 

By the second half of the nineteenth century Trouville had become a fashionable summer retreat for the French aristocracy, and their colourful costumes provided a subject-matter to which Boudin returned throughout his career. Captivated by the picturesque dress of these elegant society figures, Boudin rendered them in quick, impressionistic brushstrokes highlighted by bright blue and red tones. What fascinated the artist was the contrast between these densely grouped men and women and the expanses of the sky against which they are depicted. Boudin's interest in capturing the fleeting effects of sunlight on sumptuous fabrics and the effect of a windy day on the flowing garments, so masterfully explored in the present painting, was to have a profound influence on Impressionist artists.

 

 

Boudin's working method consisted of painting outdoors during the summer and finishing the work in the winter in his Paris studio. The essential elements of these compositions are established from the beginning and are then explored with infinite variety (fig. 2). As in the present work, a large expanse of sky occupies about two-thirds of the composition with a thin band of sea, only barely visible on one side, marking the distant horizon. The foreground is occupied by an area of sand and the holidaymakers, placed against the low horizon line. It is in the rhythmical grouping of the figures and their colourful clothing that the artist articulates space and masters his understanding of pictorial harmony. The cabins placed at varying angles brilliantly lead the viewer's eye around and through the groups of figures whilst at the same time providing a source of dramatic contrasts of light and shade.

 

In Scène de plage à Trouville the artist exhibits his exceptional qualities as an observer and recorder of society and nature. Vivien Hamilton wrote: 'Although Boudin preferred painting groups of people to painting individuals, he succeeded in capturing the characteristic gestures, movements and costumes of the individual figures with astonishing accuracy. The artistic challenge presented by the subject was not only the representation of movement, colour and light but also the successful incorporation of the human figure into the landscape. At their best, the beach scenes vibrate with subtle nuances of light, colour, shade and movement, tiny and hasty specks of pure colour simultaneously dramatizing the surface and bringing the whole into harmony' (V. Hamilton, Boudin at Trouville, London, 1992, p. 63). The artist's need to paint largely outdoors enabled him to endow his works with intuitive immediacy and freshness. Boudin wrote in his notebook: 'Beaches. Produce them from nature as far as is possible ... things done on the spot or based on a very recent impression can be considered as direct paintings' (quoted in Gustave Cahen, Eugène Boudin, sa vie et son œuvre, Paris, 1900, p. 183). In the present painting, Boudin brilliantly combined his mastery of colour and light with his sense of pictorial harmony to create an exceptional composition.

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