Eugene Boudin


1824 - 1898

Artist's Biography & Works For Sale


Eugene Louis Boudin was born on the 12th of July 1824 in Honfleur, in the Normandy region of France. His father was a sailor and captain of ‘Polichinelle’ a ferryboat that navigated between Honfleur and Roues. Eugène worked with his father as a cabin boy but this was short lived following a near drowning experience when as a young boy he fell overboard but was thankfully rescued by one of the seamen. Eugène then began working for a printer by the name of Joseph Morlent and following that, with the stationer and framer Alphonse Lemasle.

At the age of eighteen, he opened his own stationery shop with a business partner that also sold artworks by numerous artists. It was here that he met and became acquainted with the realist painter Théodule Ribot, influential history painter and teacher Thomas Couture, one of the founders of the Barbizon school Jean-François Millet, the animal painter Constant Troyon and the watercolourist Louis-Gabriel Eugène Isabey. In 1847 Boudin took the plunge and decided to take up a career as a painter and headed for Paris. He spent time in the louvre studying old masters paintings. He also visited other museums especially in Belgium where he was able to study painters from the Dutch school, such as the marine painter Willem Van De Velde, the pre-eminent landscape painter of the Dutch Golden age Jacob Isaackson van Ruisdael, and the animal painter Paulus Potter.

In 1851 he received a pension from the municipality of Le Havre of 1200 francs annually that allowed him to study at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris from 1851-1853. Although this time of study was important for his technique and for the broadening of his education, Boudin felt claustrophobic in the studio and said, “Three strokes of the brush in front of nature are worth more than two days of work at the easel in the studio.” (Hamilton, Boudin at Trouville, pg.16). He therefore endeavoured to paint outdoors on small portable canvases which made him one of the first French artists to do so! It was whilst painting outdoors in 1858 that he caught the attention of a young Claude Monet. Monet later commented that it was an eye opener to watch Boudin paint and that it was like a curtain had been opened before his eyes and he had finally understood what life and painting were about! Boudin became his mentor and the two of them painted side by side in and around Normandy. Boudin’s influence was beginning to grow and he was getting admiration from the younger generation of Impressionists and in 1874 he exhibited with them in their month long controversial inaugural opening in the photographer Nadar’s gallery. He also became friends with other popular artists around the same time including the realist Gustave Courbet around 1859 and Dutch marine painter Johan Barthold Jongkind in 1862.

Boudin’s first acceptance at the Paris Salon was in 1859, where his pastels were greatly praised by the poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire.  He exhibited at the Salon every year from 1863 to 1870. From 1862 Boudin began to spend holidays at the fashionable beach resort Trouville, where the elegant society frequented and whom he took as his subjects! The women’s clothing provided brightly coloured motifs which contrasted with the range of blues, greys, and beiges that changed with the weather conditions in the thousands of canvases he painted. In his own life time, Boudin gained considerable success and was also a recipient of several awards. He is regarded as the forerunner to impressionism and the ‘king of the skies’ according to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and his works can be found in the Musée Eugène Boudin in Honfleur, Musée d’Orsay, The Louvre and  the Metropolitan Museum of Art.