The son of a ship’s captain, Boudin was born in Honfleur and spent his youth exploring the shores of Trouville-sur-Mer, Le Havre and Deauville, before earning a scholarship to study at the Louvre in Paris. However, Boudin returned throughout his career to the harbours and beaches of Brittany that had forged his childhood to paint the dazzling effects of light across the water and skies. Boudin was so skilled in his ability to capture the changing conditions of the seashore, from menacing storm clouds to brilliant sunshine, that Camille Corot crowned him, ‘the king of the skies.’
‘Deauville, voiliers à quai’ is characteristic of the scenes of Brittany that defined Boudin’s reputation as a landscape painter. As a group of ships arrive into the harbour, their sails are tied and flutter in the wind, creating the sense of a violent gust of salty air moving through the harbour that drags the dark storm clouds across the sky and disturbs the surface of the water. Playing with the reflections of the ships’ hulls and clouds upon the sea, Boudin reveals his ability to capture the spontaneous changes of atmosphere in nature.
Deauville was a particularly important haven and subject for Boudin during his life: examples of which can now be found in international public collections at Beaux-Arts Museum, Caen; Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; National Gallery, London and Courtauld Gallery, London. In the final years of his life, Boudin built a small Dutch-style house called ‘les Ajoncs’ in Deauville as a respite for his failing health, where he could sit quietly and paint the sea view that had enthralled him for so long.
A. Diot, Paris
Galerie Bignou, Paris
The Watson Art Galleries, Montréal
J.V. Emory, Montréal
Dominion Galleries, Montréal (no.EE6674)
Private Collection, Montréal (acquired from the above 16 February 1976)
R. Schmit, Eugène Boudin 1892-1898, vol. II, Paris 1973, no.1704, illus. p.158