Eugène Louis Boudin

The son of a mariner, Boudin served as a cabin boy on his father’s boat before working with a Le Havre printer and then with a stationer and framer who displayed paintings by visiting artists. Here he became acquainted with Théodule Ribot, Thomas Couture, Jean-François Millet, Constant Troyon and Eugène Isabey; these last two were important influences.

In 1847 Boudin went to Paris to become a painter, and he saw and was inspired by 17th-century Dutch school and contemporary Barbizon school paintings. He copied Old Masters for his patron, Baron Isidore-Justin-Séverin Taylor, who later subsidised Boudin’s travel in northern France and Belgium in 1849. In 1851 Boudin was granted a three-year scholarship by Le Havre Municipal Council to work in Paris, Rouen and Caen, as well as locally. In 1854 he made contact with the group of artists who frequented the Ferme Saint-Siméon, near Honfleur. He was inspired by the Breton countryside during his tours of the area in 1855 and 1857.

At an exhibition of the Société des Amis des Arts du Havre in 1858, Boudin met the young Claude Monet, and gave him encouragement and advice, stressing particularly the importance of working directly from nature. In 1859 Boudin’s Pardon of Ste-Anne-la-Palud (1858; Le Havre, Mus. B.-A.) was accepted at the Paris Salon, where it was praised by Charles Baudelaire. Over the next few years Boudin encountered Gustave Courbet, Troyon, Camille Corot and Charles-François Daubigny. From 1863 to 1897 he exhibited regularly at the Salon; he was also represented in the First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874. In 1881 he signed a contract with the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, which resulted in exposure in the US.

Boudin often travelled, usually around Normandy, Brittany, Bordeaux, and in the 1890s, the French Riviera. He also made trips to Belgium and the Netherlands, and visited Brussels, Antwerp, Dordrecht, Rotterdam and Scheveningen. From 1892 to 1895 he regularly visited and painted in Venice.

Boudin is best known for scenes of harbours, rivers, estuaries, and coasts and their shipping, but he also made some inland landscapes and a long series of still-lifes. Furthermore, he is known for a sequence of beach scenes of the fashionable resorts of Deauville and Trouville.