Eugène Boudin

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Eugène Boudin, painting at Deauville-Trouville, close to Le Havre, France (photo in 1896)

Eugène Boudin (12 July 1824 - 8 August 1898) was one of the first French landscape painters to paint outdoors. Boudin was a Marine art painter, and expert in the rendering of all that goes upon the sea and along its shores. His pastels, summary and economic, garnered the splendid eulogy of Baudelaire; Corot called him the 'king of the skies'.

Quotes of Eugène Boudin[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes of Boudin
Boudin, 1854-56: 'Around Honfleur', oil-painting on cardboard; - quote of Boudin's journal, 1854: 'Nature is richer than I represent it.. .How fortunate we are to be able to see and admire the glories of the sky and earth; if only I could be content just to admire them'
Boudin, 1857: 'Wedding at Quimper / Noce à Quimper', oil-painting on wood; current location: Musée des beaux-arts de Quimper
Boudin, 1864: 'The pier in Trouville', oil-painting on panel;; - quote of Boudin, 1868: 'The peasants have their painters, Millet, Jaque, Breton; and that is a good thing.. ..but between you and me, the bourgeois walking along the jetty towards the sunset, has just as much right to be caught on canvas, 'to be brought to the light' '
Boudin, 1865: 'Crinolines and Cabins', black pencil, graphite and watercolor on paper; - quote of Boudin, 1863: 'They love my little ladies [paintings] on the beach, and some people say that there's a thread of gold to exploit there'
Boudin, 1869-70: 'On the Jetty', (on-the-spot study); oil-painting; - quote of Boudin from Paris, 1869: 'I dare not think of the sun-drenched beaches and the stormy skies, and of the joy of painting them in the sea breezes'
Boudin, 1874: 'The Coast of Portrieux, Cotes-du-Nord', oil-painting on canvas
Boudin, 1872-78: 'Evening at the harbor of Le Havre', painting
Boudin, 1880: 'Normandy landscape (with a high sky)', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Nordsee-Museum, Husum, Northern Germany; - quote of art-critic Tristan Klingsor, 1891: 'Where many painters only found a pretext for larges surfaces of blue, opaque and dirty, Eugène Boudin astonishes us by a variety and an incomparable accuracy: for him each cloud has a physiognomy.. ..the innovation of a spectacle which everyday we have under our eyes and which we had never seen'
Boudin, 1880: 'Fishing Boats at the Seashore (Trouville, Low Tide), painting
Boudin, 1882-83: 'Beach Scene', pastel on gray wove paper mounted on card; current location: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Boudin, 1884: 'River Meuse near Dordrecht' (Netherlands), oil-painting; - quote of Boudin, date unknown: 'I have too often contented myself with being a hasty improviser: I have spent too much time exploring fleeting effects of the sky and sea'
Boudin, 1880-90: 'Landscape with Sunset', watercolor-painting
Boudin, 1890: 'Deauville, The Shore with high tide', oil-painting
Boudin, 1895: 'Venice, Santa Maria della Salute from San Giorgio', oil on canvas; - quote of Boudin, 1895: '..on the contrary, Venice, like all luminous cities, has a grey hue, the atmosphere is mild and misty and the sky arrays itself with clouds, just like the sky of our Norman and Dutch regions'
Boudin, 1895: 'Venice, The Grand Canal', oil-painting on wooden panel; - late quote of Boudin, 1896: '..my trip to Venice [in 1895] will have been my swansong'

Quotes, 1850 - 1870[edit]

  • Nature is richer than I represent it.. .Nature is so beautiful that when I am not tortured by poverty I am tortured by her splendor. How fortunate we are to be able to see and admire the glories of the sky and earth; if only I could be content just to admire them. But there is always the torment of struggling to reproduce them, the impossibility of creating anything within the narrow limits of painting.
    • Quote from Boudin's Journal, March 1854; as cited in Eugène Boudin, G. Jean-Aubrey & Robert Schmit, Greenwich, New York graphic society, 1968, p. 24
  • To swim in the open sky. To achieve the tenderness of clouds. To suspend these masses in the distance, very far away in the grey mist, make the blue explode. I feel all this coming, dawning in my intentions. What joy and what torment! If the bottom were still, perhaps I would never reach these depths. Did they do better in the past? Did the Dutch achieve the poetry of clouds I seek? That tenderness of the sky which even extends to admiration, to worship: it is no exaggeration.
  • Imagine an immense plain.. ..in the middle, a small Gothic chapel surrounded by trees.. ..around that a hundred tents made of white canvas.. ..in open-air kitchens huge pots of boiling soup, incredible ragouts..
  • They [the holiday-visitors near Le Havre] love my little ladies [paintings] on the beach, and some people say that there's a thread of gold to exploit there.
    • Quote in Boudin's letter to family-friend Ferdinand Martin, from Paris, 12 February 1863; as cited by Colin B. Bailey in The Annenberg Collection: Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-impressionism, publisher, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2009, p. 11
  • I shall do other things, but I will always be the painter of beaches.
  • I have a confession to make. When I came back to.. ..the beach at Trouville.. ..it seeemed nothing more than than a frightful masquerade.. ..If you have passed one month among the people condemned to hard work in the fields, with black bread and water, and you then find that gang of golden parasites with such a triumphant air, you can't help feeling a bit of pity.. ..Fortunately, dear friend, the Creator has spread a little of his splendid and warming light everywhere, and what I reproduce is not so much this world as the element that envelops it.
    • Quote in Boudin's letter to Ferdinand Martin, 28 August 1867; as cited in exh. text; 'Eugène Boudin', ed. Christoph Bode, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, July 2013
    • 'Nos petites poupées', Boudin called the rich and super-rich women from Paris who spent their summers in Deauville and Trouville at the beach
  • The peasants have their painters, Millet, Jaque, Breton; and that is a good thing.. ..Well and good: but between you and me, the bourgeois walking along the jetty towards the sunset, has just as much right to be caught on canvas, 'to be brought to the light'.. .They too are often resting after a day's hard work, these people who come from their offices and from behind their desks.. .There's a serious and irrefutable argument.
    • Quote from Bonnard's letter to Ferdinand Martin, 3 September 1868; as cited in Eugène Boudin, G. Jean-Aubry with Robert Schmit - trans. Caroline Tisdall. Greenwich, Conn., New York Graphic Society, 1968, p. 72
  • I dare not think of the sun-drenched beaches and the stormy skies, and of the joy of painting them in the sea breezes.
    • Quote in a letter, from Paris 14 June 1869, to family-friend Ferdinand Martin; as cited by Colin B. Bailey in The Annenberg Collection: Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-impressionism, publisher, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2009, p. 7
    • Boudin felt himself detained in the big city Paris and longed fort the beach

Quotes, 1870 - 1898[edit]

  • When I got back [from Le Havre], where I had made several sketches of the harbour exit, I thought of placing the sun in the background. I liked the picture so much that I painted it ten times over, with its three-master and its sun.
  • I exhaust myself terribly to content the world, and never manage to content myself.
    • Quote of Boudin's note, c. 1890; as cited in G. Jean-Aubry & Robert Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1968, p. 115
  • I am obsessed with the idea of leaving. I must travel, for that would probably relax me.
    • Quote from Boudin's Journal, c. 1890; as cited in G. Jean-Aubry & Robert Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1968, p. 21
  • I regret I no longer have the years of youth needed to create a beautiful series of views of this place, which would in any case be rather difficult to paint due to the monuments, which require a good draughtsmanship and long stays in the city, like Ziem used to do in the past.
  • I think I will go back to mahogany [wood, as layer for his paintings], the only stable wood, together with old oak. But mahogany is so heavy. And it has another drawback, it blackens even through the primers if they are not thick enough and applied in several coats.
  • [Venice is] somewhat disguised by the artists who usually paint Venice, who have disfigured it by turning it into a city heated by the brightest and hottest sun. On the contrary, Venice, like all luminous cities, has a grey hue, the atmosphere is mild and misty and the sky arrays itself with clouds, just like the sky of our Norman and Dutch regions.

Quotes, undated[edit]

  • Everything that is painted directly and on the spot always has strength, a power, and a vivacity of touch one cannot recover in the studio.. .Three strokes of the brush in front of nature are worth more than two days of work at the easel [in the studio].
    • Quote from Boudin's sketchbook; as quoted in Boudin at Trouville, by Vivien Hamilton, exh. Catalogue, London John Murray Ltd., 1992, p. 16
  • I am a loner, a daydreamer who has been content to remain in his part of the world and look at the sky. The future will treat me as it does all of us. I am very much afraid it may be oblivion.
  • [I have] done various series of seascapes in different genres, beaches which demonstrated if not great art at least a reasonably faithful reproduction of the people of our age.
  • I have too often contented myself with being a hasty improviser: I have spent too much time exploring fleeting effects of the sky and sea.

Quotes about Eugène Boudin[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes about Boudin
  • ..I can say from the bottom of my heart that Boudin is not only destined to be a great painter, but can already be considered on a level with the young painters of our new school.
    • Quote of Troyon, c. 1846; as cited in G. Jean-Aubry & Robert Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1968, p. 15
    • Under the recommendation of Troyon and other artists, Boudin was awarded a three-year study grant which gave him 1200 francs a year to continue his work in Paris
  • If you have had the leisure to acquaint yourself with these meteorological beauties, you will be able to verify, by memory, the exactness of Monsieur Boudin's observations. Hide the legend with your hand, and you will still be able to guess correctly at the season, the hour and the wind. I don’t exaggerate one bit. I've seen it. Ultimately all these fantastically shaped, luminous clouds, this chaotic darkness, these immense expanses of green and pink, each hung and added on to the next, these gaping furnaces, these purple and black satin firmaments, crumpled, rolled or torn, these horizons in mourning or running with molten metal, all these depths, all these splendours, go to my head like an intoxicating liquor or like the eloquence of opium.. ..It's a curious thing, but it never occurred to me once, in front of these liquid or aerial wonders, to complain about the absence of man.
  • My God, you are a seraph, Boudin! You are the only one of us who really knows the sky!
  • [dazzled by what Baudelaire called Boudin's 'meteorological beauties']..these studies, so quickly and accurately sketched from what is the most inconstant, the most elusive in its shape and colour, waves and clouds, always bear a marginal note of the date, time and the wind.
  • There at the moment in Honfleur.. ..Boudin and Jongkind are here; we get on marvelously.. ..There's lots to be learned and nature begins to grow beautiful..
    • Quote of Claude Monet, in a letter to his friend Frédéric Bazille, 1864; quoted in Creativity in art and science, 1860-1960., Edward B. Henning, Cleveland Museum of Art. (1987), p. 95
  • [if other artists would visit Boudin] they would then understand what they [the starting Impressionists in Paris] do not seem to understand, namely the difference between a sketch and a picture.. ..He well knows that all this must be made into a picture by applying poetic impression recalled at will; he is not pretentious enough to claim that his sketches are finished pictures.
  • ..[Boudin started a new genre of seascape] which consists of painting the beach and all those exotic figures from high society whom summer brings to our coastal resorts.
  • This artist's impulsive intelligence and initiative has never, since he began to exhibit, won him any recompense: this is a glaring injustice that one must never cease to publicize. They will let this painter grow old, they will let illness weaken him and they will make his decline their pretext for abandoning him to this death, uncaring of his great value.
    • Quote of art-critic Edmond Duranty, c. 1882; as cited in G. Jean-Aubry & Robert Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1968, p. 233
  • Where many painters only found a pretext for larges surfaces of blue, opaque and dirty, Eugène Boudin astonishes us by a variety and an incomparable accuracy: for him each cloud has a physiognomy.. ..to give us the impression of immensity and to hold our attention, allured by the innovation of a spectacle which everyday we have under our eyes and which we had never seen.
    • Quote by Tristan Klingsor, in 'Un Précurseur de l'Impressionnisme: Eugène Boudin', La Nouvelle Revue, 1891, Vol. 8, p. 262
  • I could not appreciate his [Boudin's] paintings [Monet was c. 16 years old] and when he offered to take me with him to paint outdoors in the open countryside, I always found a pretext and refused politely. But when Summer came, I was more or less free to dispose of my time as I wished and I had no feasible excuse left to give him and gave in. Thus it was, that Boudin - with his inexhaustible kindness - took it upon himself to educate me. With time, my eyes began to open and I really started to understand nature. I also learned to love it. I would analyze its forms with my pencil. I would study its colorations.
    • Quote of Claude Monet from 1900, in Claude Monet par lui-meme – interview by Thiébault-Sisson / translated by Louise McGlone Jacot-Descombes; published in 'Le Temps newspaper', 26 November 1900
    • Eugène Boudin was landscape-painting in and around Le Havre circa 1856; Monet was 16 years old then
  • Boudin's art is the kind of art which wins you over, not by its audacity of expression or the obtrusive violence of its touch, but by its beauty, which combines intimacy, delicacy and truth innovative in a way because it developed towards the open air, toward impression.. ..his palette of greys and blues, his exquisite shading, his consistent harmony were neither conventional nor formalistic – rather, they were an accurate reflection of nature glimpsed sensitively.
  • You know the affection I have always had for you and also the gratitude. I have never forgotten that you were the first who taught me to see and to comprehend.
    • Quote by Claude Monet, from his letter to Boudin, 1892; as quoted in Monet and His Muse: Camille Monet in the Artist's Life, Mary Mathews Gedo; University of Chicago Press, Sept. 2010, p. 10 (note 30)
  • ..it was as if a veil had been torn from my eyes. I had understood, I had grasped what painting could be. Boudin's absorption of his work, and his independence, were enough to decide the entire future and development of my painting.
    • Quote of Claude Monet; as cited in G. Jean-Aubry & Robert Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1968, p. 27
  • His close friend, Isabey, eventually suggested to Boudin that he travel to Trouville and Deauville to work with beach scenes, two areas that were rapidly becoming popular sites for bourgeois relaxation. He completed several sketches and paintings in this area, focusing on the variation in dress, permutations of the sky, and effects of the environment and weather. Boudin thought these were 'if not a grand art, at least a fairly sincere reproduction of the world of our epoch'.
    • Quoted by Lise Duclaux & Geneviève Monnier, in Boudin: Aquarelles et Pastels, ex. cat., Paris: Musée du Louvre, 1965, p. 68

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