Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

New York

Eugène Boudin
1824 - 1898
Signed E. Boudin, dated 93. and inscribed Villerville (lower right)
Oil on canvas
18 1/4 by 25 3/4 in.
46.3 by 65.4 cm
Painted in 1893.
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Gérard Collection, Paris
Muller Collection, Paris
Arthur Tooth & Sons, London
Sale: Christie's, New York, March 28, 1988, lot 2
Richard Green Fine Paintings, London 
Acquired from the above


Robert Schmit, Eugène Boudin, 1824-1898, vol. III, Paris, 1973, no. 3202, illustrated p. 231

Catalogue Note

Le Rivage de Villerville is a prime example of Boudin’s favorite subject, that of fashionably dressed figures along the coastline. At this point in his career, his growing reputation enabled him to travel extensively. He visited Belgium, the Netherlands and the South of France, and from 1892 to 1895 made regular trips to Venice. Yet it was the coast of Normandy which he revisited as a subject matter time and again throughout his career. Boudin’s birthplace, Honfleur, was just up the coast from the commune of Villerville. During the summers of his adult life, he frequented the neighboring resorts of Trouville and Deauville, along the Côte Fleurie. Indeed, 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 in the sand. In the harmony of the colors of the elegant clothes he found a contrast to the delicacy of the skies” (Jean Selz, Eugène Boudin, New York, 1982, p. 57).

Captivated by the rocky beach neighbored by the harbor on one side and the rocky outcropping on the other, Boudin renders the scene with quick, Impressionistic brushstrokes. The figures inhabit the middle distance of the canvas, their forms minute in comparison to the expanse of the sky. In Le Rivage de Villerville, Boudin also exhibits his exceptional qualities as an observer of both society and nature. Vivien Hamilton writes: “The artistic challenge presented by the subject was not only the representation of movement, color, 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, color, shade and movement, tiny and hasty specks of pure color simultaneously dramatizing the surface and bringing the whole into harmony” (Vivien Hamilton, Boudin at Trouville, London, 1992, p. 63).

Boudin’s interest in capturing the fleeting effects of sunlight on a given moment, so masterfully explored in the present painting, had a profound influence on Impressionist artists. Indeed, decades earlier, in 1857-58, Boudin befriended the young Claude Monet, then only 18 years old. He persuaded him to give up his teenage caricature drawings and to instead adopt landscape painting. Boudin was responsible for instilling in Monet a fascination with the play of light on water evident in the latter’s Impressionist paintings, including those of the Normandy coast (see fig. 1). The two would remain lifelong friends. Following Monet’s acclaim later in his career, he cited Boudin’s lasting influence.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

New York