EUGÈNE BOUDIN (1824-1898) Caudebec-en-Caux, Bateaux sur la Seine 20 1/8 x 29 1/2 in (51.1 x 74.9 cm) (Painted in 1889)

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Lot 43
Caudebec-en-Caux, Bateaux sur la Seine 20 1/8 x 29 1/2 in (51.1 x 74.9 cm)

Sold for US$ 137,575 inc. premium

Impressionist & Modern Art

14 May 2019, 17:00 EDT

New York

EUGÈNE BOUDIN (1824-1898)
Caudebec-en-Caux, Bateaux sur la Seine
signed and dated 'E. Boudin 89' (lower right)
oil on canvas
20 1/8 x 29 1/2 in (51.1 x 74.9 cm)
Painted in 1889


  • Provenance
    Dr. Charles Abadie, Paris (acquired by 1899).
    Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 25, 1903, lot 4.
    Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 19, 1931, lot 4.
    Yvonne Coty, Paris.
    Yves Michel Coty, Virginia (by descent from the above).
    Private collection (by descent from the above in 1974).
    Addison Associates Fine Arts, San Francisco (acquired in 2002).
    Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco (acquired in 2004).
    Acquired from the above.

    Paris, L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Exposition des oeuvres d'Eugene Boudin, January 1899, no. 330 (titled Le quai de Caudebec, effet du matin).

    R. Schmit, Eugène Boudin, 1824 - 1898, vol. III, Paris, 1973, no. 2584 (illustrated p. 16).

    "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." – Eugène Boudin

    Born in Honfleur, Normandy, a port town two hours from Paris, Eugène Boudin became one of the most acclaimed marine and landscape painters. Boudin was the son of a harbor captain, and by the age of ten was working as a cabin boy, accompanying his father on a steamboat ferry which traversed from Le Havre to Honfleur. In 1835, the family moved their home from Honfleur to Le Havre, where Boudin's father opened a shop specializing in stationery and picture frames. Boudin later would open his own shop with a similar focus. His framing business was frequented by some of the most important artists of the period, including Jean-François Millet, founder of the Barbizon School and famed painter of landscapes and rural peasant life. A personal relationship developed between the older artist and Boudin, and it was Millet who encouraged Boudin to take up painting.

    Boudin only began painting seriously in his early twenties. In 1850, he was given a three-year scholarship from the town of Le Havre to pursue his artistic calling. Largely self-taught, he used this opportunity to move to Paris and diligently copy paintings in the Louvre. He also traveled to Flanders, returned to Normandy often, and from 1855 regularly visited Brittany. Boudin began to concentrate on painting the sea in 1853. He started to cement his reputation when he was praised by Charles Baudelaire for his work that was included in the 1859 Paris Salon.

    Boudin was deeply influenced by the artwork of the Dutch seventeenth-century masters, and he was encouraged by a Dutch painter contemporary to him, Johan Jongkind, to work directly from nature and create his art outdoors – en plein air. Boudin sketched and completed fine pencil drawings and watercolors at the seaside, then would return to Paris in the winter to execute larger, more complex paintings, thus foreshadowing the working practices of the Impressionists. He often would make careful annotations on the backs of paintings regarding weather, light, and time of day.

    Boudin's influence on the trajectory of Impressionism cannot be understated. A teenaged Claude Monet met Boudin and began to work alongside him, leading the older artist to have a significant impact on Monet's artistic development. It was Boudin who persuaded Monet to paint landscapes plein air, influenced his application of bright hues, and fostered Monet's interest in capturing the fleeting effects in nature, such as the play of light on water or the dissipation of clouds in the atmosphere. Indeed, Jean-Baptist-Camille Corot once called Boudin 'the king of skies.'

    Monet invited Boudin to participate in the 1874 first independent salon of the Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, et Graveurs, which included work by Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. This alternative salon was organized in protest of the academic Paris Salon, and it was in response to the independent salon that the art critic Louis Leroy inadvertently coined the term 'Impressionism' when derisively referring to a painting by Monet as a 'mere impression.'

    Boudin is not strictly considered to be an Impressionist, but he had a major influence on the group. From 1875, Boudin would continue to exhibit works at the official Paris Salon. Throughout the 1870s, Boudin traveled around Belgium, the Netherlands, and the south of France. In 1892, he received the prestigious Legion of Honor award, and during this time made numerous trips to Venice. However, the majority of Boudin's oeuvre evinces his interest in the landscapes, harbors, and beaches of the northern French coast.

    In 1888, Boudin received further official recognition when the French government began to acquire his works for the Luxembourg Gallery. In 1889, he received a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle held in Paris. It was in this same year, during the later, mature period of his career, that Boudin painted the present work, Caudebec-en-Caux, Bateaux sur la Seine. The work is a resplendent example of Boudin at his very best. The tranquil scene is open and luminous. Boudin has captured the changing effects of light on water and in the sky, drawing upon the early nineteenth-century tradition of observed naturalism and tempering it with the fluid brushwork associated with the Impressionists later in the same century. Boudin's bright, serene river view is an exquisite depiction exploring the evanescent properties of water and sky which invites extended quiet contemplation.
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