“Everything that is painted directly and on the spot has always a strength, a power, a vivacity of touch which one cannot recover in the studio… three strokes of a brush in front of nature are worth more than two days of work at the easel.”
– From Boudin at Trouville, Vivien Hamilton, 1992
Eugène Boudin has been called the father of Impressionism. His paintings of French countryside, beaches and society greatly influenced the movement, inspiring painters like Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. One of the first artists to paint his landscapes outdoors, from nature, he sought to capture the effects of light, the sky and the sea in his work.
Boudin owned a framing gallery in Le Havre, where he met many artists, including Jean-François Millet, who inspired him to start painting. In 1847, he moved to Paris, where he studied at the Louvre. Boudin travelled quite often, spending time in Normandy, Brittany and Holland and, near the end of his life, in Venice. He was influenced by the Dutch painters, and studied with Johan Jongkind in Honfleur. Camille Corot was also an informal teacher. In 1858, Boudin introduced Monet to plein-air painting. He was featured in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, and his work went on to be displayed in many of the Salons.
Despite recognition from other artists, Boudin struggled with poverty, and the majority of his success did not come until he was in his 50s. In the Salon of 1887, his last, he exhibited View of Étaples: Low Tide (1886). He received a gold medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle, and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in 1892.