Who was Eugène Boudin?
He first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1857 and was awarded first place for his work "Atlantic coast near Benerville". He received a third place medal at the Worlds Fair of 1889 and a first medal at the Paris Salon of 1895. He died on December 26, 1898 in Le Crotoy, Somme. Boudin's most important works are typically viewed as his winter scenes, painted under difficult light conditions. They are highly finished paintings, with an almost photographic quality to them. Boudin is considered an eminent figure in landscape painting. His works are in most major museums around the world, including the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Early Life of Eugène Boudin
Eugène Boudin's early life is marked by the series of events that affected Honfleur in his youth. The town was practically destroyed by an English siege in 1449, when Boudin was only five years old. The events of the century after his birth took their toll on Honfleur as well. Honfleur was again ravaged by plague in 1835, when Boudin was eleven years old. Other than these two tragedies, Boudin's childhood remained relatively peaceful. His parents' marriage remained strong throughout his early life, and he did not experience any other major deaths of family members at this time. He attended school in Caen, France, but did not finish due to financial constraints of the family.
Boudin grew up in a household where art was viewed as both a fine and a useful pursuit. His parents were strict but supportive. He began studying art at the age of thirteen, and two years later he earned his first award for drawing. At sixteen, he began painting in oils and quickly developed a talent for it. Boudin spent much of his time sketching outdoors, which is probably how he became so skilled at depicting light and shadow. In 1843, he sent some of his work to the Salon in Paris and was accepted to work there in 1849. Boudin's paintings were often serene and calm not necessarily the same as boring or unemotional. He often set his subjects out-of-doors or in peaceful indoor settings that offset the emotional impact of his subjects. Boudin worked in a time when many French artists focused on historical paintings or portraits, but he preferred everyday scenes from modern life, such as people working on farms or fishermen on the beach.
Boudin's Painting Style
Eugène Boudin's painting style was, at first glance, quite simple and purely impressionistic. His compositions often had a hazy and misty effect. The reflection of the sky in the water was not always clear; the colours he used were usually subtle and soft, like Gris' or Sisley's. The simplicity of his style was misleading; in fact his paintings are remarkable for their subtle tonal variations, their complex colour harmonies and their sensitive adjustments to the effects of light. He combined the precision of drawing with the gentleness of an Impressionist. His paintings are also notable for their truthfulness to nature; though scenes depicted in his pictures are typically small-scale, he did not paint miniatures. His scenes are carefully composed; he showed each part in its relation to the whole, without neglecting either close detail or broad effect.
The Painter Boudin's Technique
The Boudin's technique is to paint in broad strokes, which allow him to concentrate on the volumes and planes. He made his study of the traditional methods of the Old Masters, but always giving priority to the rendering of form. And he is not afraid to break with tradition when it suited him. His paintings are not small in scale; they are monumental in size, almost always measuring more than two meters in width. He sees painting as process rather than creating a specific image; it is about building layers that eventually will create an image. He does not decorate his canvas with a lot of details, but by creating depth through light and shade, he gives the spectator the opportunity to explore his paintings in three dimensions. He painted using both oil paint and pastels, but preferred oil because it gave him more working time. His approach was considered old-fashioned during the Impressionist period. But his works were much sought after during his lifetime and afterwards due to their realistic portrayal of light and colour.
Boudin's early work
Eugène Boudin studied with François-Édouard Picot and became a brilliant illustrator and landscape painter. His early work is mostly figure painting with highly realistic detail regarding fabric textures and reflections. Boudin was close friends with Claude Monet, Camille Corot and Alfred Sisley. In 1866 he met Manet and later that year exhibited at the Salon where his paintings were noticed by the critics and the public. Boudin's early work is mostly figure painting with highly realistic detail regarding fabric textures and reflections. He is considered to have been one of the main artists who created the image of Douarnenez, the Shore and the Bay painting that became popular with painters working in France during the second half of the 19th century. He painted in a realistic manner characteristic of The Barbizon school, but his color palette was subdued compared to that of his colleagues. As he continued to paint, Boudin's style gradually evolved into what is recognized as his personal idiom, marked by small strokes of muted color in a grayish-green landscape. Boudin was an expert at depicting light in his landscapes.
Eugène Boudin's road to success
Success always looks easy. That goes double for people who get their success by doing something that is also fun, like painting landscapes or playing jazz. It looks so easy that we decide it must not have been very hard. The truth is that some kinds of success are pretty easy and some kinds aren't. But we don't usually notice this because the people who get the hardest kinds of success also do stuff that is fun to watch, while the people who get the easiest kinds of success generally don't. Eugène Boudin was born in 1824 into a family of peasant farmers in Normandy. His father wanted him to be a priest, but he decided instead to go to Paris and become an artist. He had talent but not enough money to live on while he learned how to paint. He worked as a store clerk during the day and studied painting at night. And he went out sketching by day. After five years he had made enough money to move out of town, onto the coast of northern France, where there were better subjects for his paintings beaches, cliffs, rocky islands, things like that. Eugène Boudin had no formal training as an artist, but he became one of the most respected painters in France. How did he do it? He started with a new way of painting. His technique was to sketch, not on the canvas itself, but on paper laid over the canvas. Then he would cover the sketch with more paper, and trace over the lines of the sketch, making them darker and bolder. This allowed him to freely change his mind about what he wanted to paint, because any changes would just involve painting over another piece of paper. It also meant that he could easily correct mistakes, simply by wiping away some paint. Boudin's best paintings are his seascapes, which are unusually vivid for their time. This is not only because he is careful to paint exactly what he sees. It's also because he has a sense of light that few other painters have matched since then. He often paints water with light coming from behind it or reflected in it; this makes it glow or sparkle in a way that is now familiar but was unusual at the time.
The Last Day of an Artist
Boudin's last day was February 1, 1898. He died in his studio, working on a painting of the view out the window. He was seventy-six years old. He had been painting since he was fifteen, when he had run away from home to join the navy; but he had never taught himself how to paint. When he was fifteen there were no art schools; there were no art museums; there were no magazines to publish paintings in; there were no other artists around to teach him anything, or even to show him what they were doing. He would go on painting without interruption for the next sixty-nine years. Boudin never tried very hard at any one thing. He never spent more than a few months on any one thing, and rarely less than a week or so. But he tried very hard at everything, and every minute he wasn't working on something else he was thinking about painting in general and about what he was working on in particular.
Oil painting reproduction of Eugène Boudin