Van Gogh •
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Eugène Boudin was born in Honfleur. The son of a fisherman and a
stewardess, he would have been destined for a life at sea and in fact began to
work as cabin boy when he was ten. When he fell overboard one day, however, his mother decided that he had better work on land. Boudin worked first as a printer's clerk and then as a salesman in an art supply shop in Le Havre. The only formal art training Boudin received came from Millet, who bought his paints at the shop and gave the young man criticism on his drawing. Boudin continued in the art supply business until 1846, when he began to devote all his time to painting. By 1852, he an exhibition of his works was held in Le Havre, and in 1859 he began to show annually at the Paris official Salons, where he received a third-class medal in 1881.
Although Boudin's art received very little appreciation from the general public, it was greatly admired by such artists as Corot,
Courbet, Sisley, Puvis de Chavannes, Manet, Monet, and Jongkind, and by the poet Baudelaire who found his portrayals of nature and natural atmosphere astonishingly accurate. Boudin's work is light and tender in quality, fresh in color, and scintillating in its portrayal of light and the reflection of light upon landscapes or people. Although Boudin's favorite subjects were the charmingly dressed ladies and gentlemen of the bourgeoisie promenading upon Normandy beaches, he also painted still lives, landscapes, and even a few portraits. In his preoccupation with the effects of atmospheric light, his work is seen as strongly influenced Monet and the other Impressionists. But Boudin was a modest man and considered himself neither a revolutionary nor as important an artist as the younger men. With luminous skies moving gently across the canvas, his work offers a soft and peaceful impression of an untroubled nature.