Honfleur 1824 - 1898 Deauville
Eugène Boudin was one of the most important precursors of the Impressionists; his ever-increasing critical acclaim rests on an unrivalled reputation as a master of beach and coastal scenes.
Born in Honfleur, Boudin was the son of a harbour pilot. In 1844, he opened a stationery and framing shop in Le Havre, where his clients included Thomas Couture, Eugène Isabey, Jean François Millet and Constant Troyon. Although Boudin had no academic training, he spent much time drawing and the visiting painters greatly encouraged his innate artistic ability.
In 1847 Boudin went to Paris and devoted his attention to studying and copying Old Masters in the Louvre. In 1851 he was awarded a three-year scholarship by the City of Le Havre. However, instead of pursuing indoor, academic studio work, Boudin was inspired by the idea of painting en plein air and made a number of painting trips to Le Havre, Honfleur and other coastal towns in northern France. He made his debut at the Salon in 1859, where his work was much admired by Charles Baudelaire and Gustave Courbet, and he was heralded by Corot as the ‘king of the skies’.
Boudin became Monet’s first teacher, persuading him to paint out of doors, and in 1874 he was invited to participate in the first Impressionist exhibition. Boudin spent the rest of his career painting primarily around the coast of Le Havre, Honfleur and Trouville, inspired by the elegant society that flocked to the sparkling coastline. Whilst painting at Trouville in 1862 he met the Dutch artist Johan Barthold Jongkind and, influenced by his boldness of technique, Boudin adopted freer brushwork and a brighter palette.
The exquisite sensibility of Boudin’s work was recognised by the dealer Durand-Ruel, who organised exhibitions of his pictures in 1883, 1889, 1890 and 1891; in 1892, Boudin was awarded the Légion d’Honneur.
Works by Eugène Boudin can be found in the many museums worldwide including The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The National Gallery, London; Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Musée du Louvre, Paris and The Hermitage, St Petersburg.