Eugene Louis Boudin (1824-1898)

Eugene Louis Boudin was born in Deauville, Honfleur, Normandy in 1824. As a young man, he worked as a cabin boy on a steamer that sailed on the Seine River between Havre and Honfleur. He lost interest in being a cabin boy and became especially interested in art when in 1835, his father became a frame-maker. Boudin was an assistant in his father’s shop, where he met artists working in the area including Jean-François Millet, Thomas Couture and Constant Troyon. Couture encouraged the young Boudin to become a dedicated artist, and at age 22 he began painting full time; having left the job with his father.

Boudin was one of the earliest French plein-air painters and became known for his marine scenes – especially people and boats along the shores – and for his expansive skyscapes on canvas. He was an impressionist painter long before there was such a school or classification. Boudin’s influence on his fellow artists was profound, as expressed by his student Monet, who when asked about his time studying with Boudin, stated simply: “It was as if at last my eyes were opened. If I have become a painter it is entirely due to Eugene Boudin.” In 1874, Boudin joined Monet and other Impressionists in the first exhibition of works in that style.

Beginning in the 1870s Boudin traveled extensively to Venice, Belgium, the Netherlands and southern France. After the death of his wife in 1889 he returned to the familiar places between Deauville and Dunkirk where he derived solace in painting the sea and sky of his youth. In 1896 he received the Legion of Honour and passed away in Deauville in 1898.