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Beach at Étretat

1890
Eugène-Louis Boudin (French, 1824–1898)

The pierced cliffs and pebbly beaches surrounding the French town of Étretat on the coast of Normandy attracted tourists and artists alike. The development of railroad lines between Paris and the coast, as well as abundant new travel literature devoted to natural scenery and local customs, drew visitors to what had been an isolated fishing village.


Eugène-Louis Boudin first painted at Étretat in the fall of 1890. Although he was well known for painting beach scenes filled with fashionably dressed ladies and gentlemen, here he chose to exclude tourists and bathers in order to concentrate on traditional fishing vessels that have been pulled onto the shore with the aid of large capstans or winches and draped with drying fishing nets. The distinctive natural archway known as the Porte d’Aval frames the beach on the left, while a steamship makes its way across the horizon, the sole indication of modern life.

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Object Details

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