Estate of Elwood B. Hosmer, Montreal
Thence by descent
Paris, Salon d'Automne, 1868
Toronto, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Modern European Paintings in Canadian Collections
Boudin's atmospheric depiction of this windswept jetty belongs to an important series from the late 1860s that foreshadowed the beginning of the Impressionist movement. The location here as Le Havre, but the setting is similar to Boudin's contemporaneous depiction of a jetty in Trouville, just eight miles across the bay (Schmit no. 430, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.). When the present work was painted in 1868, Le Havre was the setting of the International Maritime Eposition that summer, and its fanfare attracted Boudin, along with Manet, Monet, Courbet and Daubigny. Boudin and his fellow avant-garde painters were fascinated by the affects of light reflecting off the water, and the Norman coastline was where they came to experiment with new aesthetic techniques that would ultimately give rise to Impressionist painting in the 1870s.
1868 was an auspicious year for Boudin, beginning with the first public sale of his paintings in March. "People complimented me very much," the artist wrote. "Some went so far as to say bravo... It is a comfort to feel that it is a happy beginning, which strengthens me unexpectedly..." (quoted in R. L. Benjamin, Eugène Boudin, New York, 1937, p. 72). The encouraging outcome of the sale spurred him on to submit several works to the annual Salon later in the year. Among his entries was a stormy seascape of Le Havre. The critic T.A. Castagnary identified Boudin as supreme among the maritime painters at the exhibition, and praised his work for its startlingly truthful yet original interpretation of the natural world: "Monsieur Boudin is the only one who treats the marine in this fashion, -- or rather, to use a better expression of Courbet, 'the landscape of the sea.' He has carved out a charming little kingdom for himself in this field, from which no one will dislodge him" (quoted in ibid., p. 73).
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