Claude Monet at Trouville
Claude Monet spent some time in Trouville, Normandy, a popular resort along the English Channel, in the summer of 1870, shortly before the start of the Franco-Prussian war. He had just married his wife, Camille, on June 28 and this was their wedding trip. On August 12, Eugene Boudin and his wife joined the Monet’s at Trouville. Boudin was a forerunner of the French Impressionist movement and a mentor to Monet. His influence can be seen Monet’s beach scenes which he painted during his stay at Trouville.
Monet spent about eight weeks in Trouville in which time he created some eleven paintings. The paintings depict two main themes, the beachfront promenade and Camille enjoying herself on the water’s edge.
In Hotel des Roches Noires at Trouville, we see Monet’s bold techniques at work. He creates the impression of a moving sky with wisps of clouds and fluttering flags in the top half of the canvas while the bottom is stabilized with figures. The powerful perspective of the painting draws the viewer into the inviting scene.
Monet’s paintings show elegant hotels with the most fashionable of guests however, the artist and his family were not among them. Instead, Monet and his family stayed at a more humble hotel, the Hotel Tivoli, located much farther from the beach. Here he had a large bill which he very possibly skipped out on.
The Beach at Trouville and On the Boardwalk at Trouville depict fashionable guests strolling up and down the boardwalk while enjoying the view of the beach and water. At the time these beach paintings were not received without controversy. The subject matter was too commonplace to deserve a painting and the depiction of people too vague with no real features.
Monet painted images of his new bride, Camille, sitting as a fashionable lady on the beach sitting on a chair with her parasol and wearing a veil which seems to hide her identity.
Monet’s paintings from Trouville were created outside on the beach, en plein air, as grains of sand are present in the paint. Some of the paintings were left untouched after the beach while others were more highly finished compositions that were not completed in a single session.
Though the resort town was idyllic Monet left in September to avoid being drafted to fight in the conflict. He left Camille and their son Jean behind while he visited his sick father. He eventually made his way to London where the family was finally reunited in October.