Scène de plage à Trouville (1863)

Boudin, Eugène (1824-1898)

Scène de plage à Trouville (Beach Scene at Trouville)
Oil on wood, 34.8 x 57.5 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

About two dozen men and women sit in straight-backed, wooden chairs gathered along a sandy beach near low, gently breaking waves with sailboats floating in the ocean beyond in this horizontal landscape painting. The scene is loosely painted throughout, making much of the detail indistinct. Most of the people sit with their backs to us but the faces we can see suggest they all have light skin. The people gather in a loose crowd that crosses the right two-thirds of the composition. The women wear long dresses with full skirts, their shoulders wrapped in matching shawls in black, smoke gray, royal or arctic blue, rust red, or cream white. Some wear straw-colored hats with black or baby-blue bands, and others wear scarves over their hair. The men also wear hats, most of them black top hats, and suits in black or pecan brown. Some people hold up parasols in harvest gold, slate blue, teal, or gray. A few straight-backed, wooden chairs with rushed seats sit empty or are tipped over to our left of the group. Two children, one wearing marigold orange and the other topaz blue, and both wearing straw hats, kneel or squat and bend over the sand at the center of the group. Two dark brown or black dogs, one small and one large, stand to our right. Two tall, wooden poles rise high above the crowd near the right edge of the composition. A thin banner with blue, white, and red stripes flutters from the pole closer to us, and a red banner lifts in the breeze on the one farther away. Painted with thick, visible brushstrokes, low waves with white crests lap against the shore in bands of pale lilac purple, light turquoise, and aquamarine blue just beyond the crowd. Two people sit in a rowboat in the ocean to our left, and several sailboats with tan sails move into the distance to the horizon, which comes about a quarter of the way up the composition. Bright white strokes to our right could be sails in bright sunlight, deep in the distance. One boat amid the sailboats puffs a plume of gray smoke. Pale, almost translucent white clouds drift across the light blue sky above. The artist signed and dated the painting in the lower left corner: “E. Boudin 63.” (NGA)

See also:

• Trouville-sur-Mer (France)