Eugène Boudin, l’atelier de la lumière

from April 16 to September 26, 2016

Eugène BOUDIN (1824-1898), Pardon of Ste-Anne-La-Palud, 1858, oil on canvas, 87 x 146.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Eugène BOUDIN (1824-1898), Pardon of Ste-Anne-La-Palud, 1858, oil on canvas, 87 x 146.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
From his first attempt in 1859 to the time of his death, Boudin regularly had works in the Paris Salon. He also exhibited in Salons in many provincial cities - Bordeaux, Rouen, Evreux, Nantes, Pau and of course Le Havre - sometimes sending in the same works as for the Paris Salon.

These pictures have often been neglected by historians, who have tended to focus on  studies not produced with the Salons in mind. But Boudin's oeuvre cannot be fully understood without taking the Salon works into account. For Boudin himself, the two categories could not be dissociated.

He made no distinction between them either in terms of the subject or in his creative process. In fact, he reversed the conventional process of creation, which usually began with a small-scale study and ended with a large picture. He roughed out his pictures of all sizes directly from the subject and then finished them in the studio, and his large-format works deliberately look like sketches. How finished they looked depended solely on the customer's demands.

Sometimes Boudin produced several versions of a subject in similar or different sizes. Only the date on the work enables us to determine the exact order in which they were produced. Even so, Boudin sometimes went back to earlier works to add finishing touches without changing the date on the picture.