The King of the Skies | Eugène Boudin 

The King of the Skies | Eugène Boudin 

We are delighted to present for sale this exquisite oil painting, 'Le Havre, Le Bassin, Le Barre' by the French artist Eugène Boudin as a part of our April Old Master, British and European Art Sale. 

13 January 2023

Boudin is hailed as one of the most influential painters of the 19th century. Boudin was one of the first artists to paint en plein air, and was a big influence on the Impressionist movement. In particular to Monet who remarked 'If I have become a painter, it is entirely due to Eugène Boudin' (J. Selz, Eugène Boudin, New York, 1982, p. 43).

'Le Havre, Le Bassin, Le Barre'  Eugène Boudin

'Le Havre, Le Bassin, Le Barre' Eugène Boudin

Influenced by his friend Baudelaire, Boudin was inspired to paint modern life – be that the industry of local ports, or the elegant figures that flocked to Normandy, his home, or the fashionable beaches at Trouville. His ambition was to paint what was in front of him, not to create a majestic and grandly composed vision of a port, but the port as it was – bustling with ordinary life: boats, commerce.

The harbour of Le Havre was a subject he returned to time and time again, encouraging many other artists of the Impressionist movement, including Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet, to join him. His father was a harbour pilot and, as a young man, Boudin worked on a steamboat that made the regular journey across the Seine estuary between the port of Le Harvre, and the picturesque old town of Honfleur. The present lot shows Boudin at the height of his powers in the early 1890s, depicting the ‘avant-port’, a landscape he knew intimately.

Boudin was described by Corot as 'King of Skies', famous for his depiction of clouds, light and weather. He remarked:  'to steep oneself in the sky. To capture the tenderness of the clouds. To let the cloud masses float in the background, far off in the grey mist, and then make the blue blaze forth' (Ibid, p. 41). 

 'Le Havre, Le Bassin, Le Barre'  Eugène Boudin

'Le Havre, Le Bassin, Le Barre' Eugène Boudin

Here we have a low horizon with a huge expanse of sky above, contrasting with the industry of the port entrance. Using a somewhat restricted palette and his direct, instinctive brushstrokes, he offers us a masterclass in the depiction of the clouds. Elsewhere, we see his direct, crisp brushstrokes sketching the figures, buildings and boats that populate the busy port.


To find out more about our 4 April Old Master, British & European Art Sale, please contact Jane Oakley 




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