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The Cover
August 17, 2005

La Manne-Porte, Etretat

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2005;294(7):775. doi:10.1001/jama.294.7.775

Not far from Trouville Harbor, where Boudin often painted (JAMA cover, August 10, 2005), was Etretat, another in the string of fashionable beach resorts that graced the Normandy coast during the second half of the 19th century. The coming of the railroad had made these once-exclusive resorts accessible to almost everyone, from the Paris bourgeoisie to the hoi polloi wanting to escape the city’s heat. Especially attracted were artists who were drawn to the constantly shifting light and, not least, to the abundance of “free” motifs. Situated between Dieppe and Le Havre, the town was of modest size, perched atop monumental cliffs that rose steeply from the sea. Chalky white, their clearly visible geologic anatomy could pass through all the colors of the spectrum in a single day. But it was their shape that was distinctive: from the proper angle they looked like an ancient Colossus straddling land and sea. Such must have been the sight when the Romans first glimpsed Gaul. And such was the sight when Claude Monet (1840-1926) first saw Etretat. It became a favorite and oft-repeated motif.