The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
Louis-Eugène Boudin (1824-1898) knew every nuance of the Normandy
sky as intimately as a child knows the moods of its mother’s face. He
had been born in Normandy, in Honfleur, and he had spent his boyhood on his
father’s pilot boat navigating the rivers and estuaries of the Bay of
the Seine from Cherbourg to Le Havre. Later, as a professional landscape painter,
Boudin committed his impressions to canvas. The results are modest little
pictures, usually small in size, of the fashionable beach resorts, jetties,
and harbors up and down the coast. So similar are the repeated motifs that
without seeing several paintings side by side, the casual viewer could be
hard pressed to recall distinguishing features. On the other hand, the practiced
eye would recognize that each of the paintings is as unique as the moment
in which it was realized. Whether the subjects are ships, fishing boats, bathers,
washerwomen, beaches, or harbors, each painting takes its identity from the
light. In a Boudin painting light is in fact the subject and
it is as variable as the Channel winds that whip up the waters and drive along
the clouds. Boudin was among the first to paint en plein air, under the skies,
in natural as opposed to studio light, and it was he who persuaded a very
young Claude Monet to try the same.
Southgate MT. Boats in Trouville Harbor. JAMA. 2005;294(6):657. doi:10.1001/jama.294.6.657
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