The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
A hurried visitor to a large museum may well pass right by some of the
most exquisite gems of 19th-century French painting without pause, especially
if they are displayed—as they are apt to be—among the Impressionists.
It is the same in the art history books: Eugène Boudin (1824-1898),
in a very real sense the grandfather—or, at the least, the uncle—of
the then radical new style, is usually treated as a footnote to Impressionism.
When he is mentioned at all, it is always in the same breath as Monet. Boudin,
some 15 years older than the brash young protégé he first met
at a frame shop in Le Havre, did become Monet's mentor and even his inspiration,
but he himself was never an Impressionist. He did join the group's first exhibition
in 1874, but it was also the last for him—his choice, one conjectures,
for he had chosen a different path. He remained as he was, a humble, gentle
man who devoted himself to painting en plein air the
harbor scenes, rivers, estuaries, and beaches of his native Normandy, refining
rather than varying his style; he visited the same motifs over and over in
different atmospheric conditions, only to discover that they were as new as
light, or time, and that he was seeing each as though for the first time.
If Boudin needs a label, at best he might be called a Proto-Impressionist.
Southgate MT. Trouville, The Jetties, High Tide. JAMA. 2003;289(11):1345. doi:10.1001/jama.289.11.1345