Artists in 60 Seconds: Eugène Boudin

Image © Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; used with permission
Eugène Boudin (French, 1824-1898). The Beach at Villerville, 1864. Oil on canvas. 18 x 30 1/16 in. (45.7 x 76.3 cm). Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Image © Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Movement, Style, Type or School of Art:

Impressionism

Date and Place of Birth:

July 12, 1824, Trouville, France

Life:

Louis Eugène Boudin's pint-sized painting may not enjoy the same reputation as the more ambitious works by his star pupil Claude Monet, but their diminutive dimensions should not diminish their significance. Boudin introduced his fellow Le Havre resident to the pleasures of painting en plein air, which decided the future for talented young Claude.

In this respect, and although he was technically a key precursor, we may consider Boudin among the founders of the Impressionist movement.

Boudin participated in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, and also exhibited in the annual Salon that year. He did not participate in any subsequent Impressionist exhibitions, preferring instead to stick to the Salon system. It was only in his last decade of painting that Boudin experimented with the broken brushwork for which Monet and the rest of the Impressionists were known.

The son of a sea captain who settled in Le Havre in 1835, Boudin met artists through his father's stationery and framing shop, which also sold artists' supplies. Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767-1855), Constant Troyon (1810-1865) and Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) would come by and offer the young Boudin advice. However, his favorite art hero at the time was the Dutch landscapist Johan Jongkind (1819-1891).

In 1850, Boudin received a scholarship to study art in Paris. In 1859, he met Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) and poet/art critic Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), who took an interest in his work. That year Boudin submitted his work to the Salon for the first time and was accepted.

Beginning in 1861, Boudin divided his time between Paris during the winter and the Normandy coast during the summer.

His small canvases of tourists on the beach received respectable attention and he often sold these quickly painted compositions to the people who had been captured so effectively.

Boudin loved to travel and set out for Brittany, Bordeaux, Belgium, Holland and Venice quite often. In 1889 he won a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle and in 1891 he became a knight of the Légion d'honneur.

Late in life Boudin moved to the south of France, but as his health deteriorated he chose to return to Normandy to die in the region that launched his career as one of the maverick plein-air painters of his era.

Important Works:

  • On the Beach, Sunset, 1865
  • The Nurse/Nanny on the Beach, 1883-87
  • Trouville, View Taken from the Heights, 1897

Date and Place of Death:

August 8, 1898, Deauville, France

Source:

Dayez, Anne. Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition.
New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974.