Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 7, 1900, lot 2 Fouji Gallery, Japan (and sold: Sotheby's, London, April 4, 1990, lot 310) Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Robert & Manuel Schmit, Eugène Boudin, 1824-1898, deuxième supplément, Paris, 1984, no. 3958, illustrated p. 43
Born in Honfleur and the son of a sailor, Boudin was drawn to the ports and coastline of northern France. The artist's practice of painting largely en plein air, though often finishing his paintings in the studio, enabled him to endow his works with an energetic immediacy and freshness. As Boudin inscribed in one his notebooks, “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 oeuvre, Paris, 1900, p. 183). Boudin's art was an important source of inspiration for the next generation of artists, particularly the Impressionists. He was both a friend and mentor of Claude Monet, and is credited with having first shown him the importance of painting in the open air.
Painted at the prime of his career, Le Port du Havre au coucher du soleil is a wonderful testament to his confident brushwork and mature style. As in many of his paintings, Boudin has boldly dedicated over half of the composition to a vast sky; its subtle nuances and neutral tones serve to emphasize the proximity of the boats below. A contemporary critic in The Boston Post stated, “In representation of harbor views [Boudin] has no rival. His skies are a joy to see and his vessels always painted with inimitable skill and perfect knowledge. In his pictures there is a [good] deal of movement. One feels the bustle of hurrying out of port, or into it. The vessels sway with wind and tide, and their rigging is drawn with fascinating truth and naiveté” (quoted in Peter C. Sutton, Boudin: Impressionist Marine Paintings (exhibition catalogue), Peabody Museum of Salem, Massachusetts, 1991, p. 16).
Painted on canvas laid down on board. The paint surface is clean. When examined under UV light, there is evidence of retouching to the paint surface throughout the sky, both in the left and the right upper quadrants. There is furthermore retouching to a diagonal line in the sky in the upper right quadrant, approx. 5 inches in length. Overall the work is in largely good condition. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.