Trouville, Scène de Plage, 1884
Georges Feydau, Paris.
His Sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 11 Feb. 1901, lot 18.
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, acquired from the above sale (1,200 ffr).
M. Mancini, acquired from the above on 15 Feb. 1918.
Galerie Druet, Paris.
Knoedler & Co., New York (archive no. A551), acquired from the above on 25 Feb. 1929 (32,000 ffr).
Private Collection, UK.
R.Schmit, Eugène Boudin, 1824 – 1898, Paris, 1973, vol. 2, no. 1874 (illus. p. 221).
Trouville, Scène de Plage is an exquisite example of Boudin’s most celebrated subject, the beach at Trouville. As Jean Selz has noted, ‘What fascinated Boudin at Trouville and Deauville was not so much the sea and ships but the groups of people sitting on the sand or strolling along the beach: fine ladies in crinolines twirling their parasols, pompous gentlemen in top hats, children and little dogs playing on the sand. In the harmony of the colours of the elegant clothes he found a contrast to the delicacy of the skies’ (J. Selz, Eugène Boudin, New York, 1982, p. 57).
By the second half of the nineteenth century, Trouville had become a fashionable summer retreat for the French bourgeoisie, and the people-watching opportunities proved to be of great artistic inspiration to Boudin during his regular summers there throughout the 1860s and 1870s. Captivated by the lively groupings of these elegant leisure classes, he rendered his subjects in quick, impressionistic brushstrokes highlighted by bright blue and red accents. What fascinated the artist the most, however, was the compositional contrast between these densely grouped men, women, children, dogs and tents and the vast expanses of the sky against which they are depicted. Boudin’s interest in capturing the fleeting effects of sunlight on sumptuous fabrics and the effect of a windy day on the billowing dresses and tents, so masterfully explored in this painting, was to have a profound influence on many Impressionist painters.
In Trouville Boudin exhibits his exceptional qualities as an observer and recorder of society and nature. According to the catalogue accompanying an exhibition of Boudin’s views of Trouville, ‘Although Boudin preferred painting groups of people to painting individuals, he succeeded in capturing the characteristic gestures, movements and costumes of the individual figures with astonishing accuracy. The artistic challenge presented by the subject was not only the representation of movement, colour and light but also the successful incorporation of the human figure into the landscape. At their best, the beach scenes vibrate with subtle nuances of light, colour, shade and movement, tiny and hasty specks of pure colour simultaneously dramatizing the surface and bringing the whole into harmony’ (V. Hamilton, Boudin at Trouville, London, 1992, p. 63).