Eugene Boudin – The Forerunner of the French Impressionism Art (1824 – 1898)

Eugene Boudin was born in Honfleur and was one of the first landscape artists in France to paint in the open air (en plein-air painting). He instinctively understood that in order to capture the light of the landscapes around him, he needed to paint while viewing it outdoors (en plein-air).

“Three brush strokes from nature are worth two days in the studio.” Quote Eugene Boudin

Etretat : Eugene Boudin painting
Etretat : Eugene Boudin [Public domain]

The Meticulous En Plein-Air Painter

As such, Eugene Boudin set up his easel outdoors and painted the scenery before him. This was a very unusual way to paint in the 19th century. Typically artists in those days painted from memory in their closed-in studios.

Eugene Boudin hung around other painters and was a self taught artist. He was meticulous as well. He annotated on the backs of his canvases details about the weather, the light, and the time of day.

Eugene Boudin’s Paintings Depict the Changes in France

Through Boudin’s paintings we see the dawn of a new era in France. As the railway lines were built in the 19th century, city dwellers came to the seaside towns to enjoy the beaches. These beaches transformed themselves from fisherman workplaces to trendy seaside resorts.

Boudin painted the landscapes of the Normandy region. He painted landscapes and seascapes of the beautiful coastal villages, such as but not only, Honfleur, Trouville – Deauville and, Etretat.  These villages are still picture-perfect and worth visiting!

Deauville, the Beach, Low Tide - Eugene Boudin Painting
Deauville, the Beach, Low Tide – Eugene Boudin Painting

Eugene Boudin regularly exhibited at the Paris Salon. His paintings were also included in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. However, Boudin never went as far as the Impressionists in their unrestrained use of bright colors and unrefined brushwork. He only once exhibited with them and did not join their revolutionary art movement.

Trouville -  Eugene Boudin en plein air Painting
Trouville –  Eugene Boudin painting [Public domain]

Eugene Boudin mentors young Claude Monet

In 1858 Eugene Boudin meets Claude Monet, then only 18 years old. He persuades young Monet to paint with him and to become a landscape painter. He encourages Monet to focus on the colors and the play of light on water.

Boudin teaches Monet en plein-air painting that was later to be the foundation of the future Impressionism art movement. Through Eugene Boudin, Claude Monet “saw the light”!!

Monet says after learning from Boudin:

“My eyes were finally opened and I really understood nature; I learned at the same time to love it.” Quote Claude Monet

The Best Art Museums in France to view the Artworks of Eugene Boudin

Musee Eugene Boudin – Honfleur, Normandy

In Honfleur, there is a wonderful museum called the Eugene Boudin Museum which I highly recommend you visit. This is lovely museum is located in the heart of the medieval port town, Honfleur. It isn’t too large so it will not overwhelm you.

The museum showcases some artworks of Eugene Boudin but not only. Here you will see many other paintings of artists from all over the Normandy region. For more details about things to do in Honfleur and this museum, press here

Honfleur - Eugene Boudin painting
Honfleur – Eugene Boudin [Public domain]

Musée d’art moderne André Malraux – Le Havre, Normandy

The Musée d’art moderne André Malraux (also called  Musée Malraux or MuMa) is a museum located by the sea in Le Havre. This wonderful museum hosts one of the largest impressionism art collections in France (second to Musee D’Orsay in Paris).

As well as it’s fantastic impressionism art collection, the MuMa museum also owns the largest Eugene Boudin art collection in the world. Most of these artworks (comprising water colors, oil paintings, engravings & sketches) were donated to the museum by Eugene Boudin’s brother.

Although Eugene Boudin was not born in Le Havre, he had a strong connections to this Normandy port city. It was at Le Havre’s harbor where he found so much of his creative inspiration.

For more information about the Muma museum in Le Havre, press here.

Le Havre Port - Eugene Boudin en plein air Painting
Le Havre Port – Eugene Boudin Painting

Looking for a wonderful novel that captures Boudin mentoring Monet?

If you enjoy art historical fiction, then you will enjoy the book called: “Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet” by Stephanie Cowell.  This book is about Claude Monet but it captures wonderfully the period of young Monet studying under the wing of Boudin. Click here to read a review of this wonderful book.