The Cliffs at Etretat

The Cliffs at Etretat

Claude Monet
French (1840-1926)
1885
Oil on canvas

During the 1860s, '70s, and '80s the village of Etretat on the Normandy coast became an increasingly fashionable vacation spot for families from Paris and other cities in Northern France. Painters such as Gustave Courbet and Giovanni Boldini helped to encourage the popularity of the place, recording the spectacular shapes of the cliffs and the changeable weather conditions of the English Channel. In Monet's painting, the cliffs rise out of the water -- half in cool shadow, half in warm, bright sunlight -- dwarfing the tiny boats with their orange sails, which glide between and around them. Unlike Boldini, who uses the cliffs as the background for a picturesque image of locals and tourists crowding around a fishing boat in Return of the Fishing Boats, Etretat, Monet focuses his attention -- and ours -- on the light that reflects off the constantly shifting surface of the water and the solid, craggy faces of the monolithic rocks.

This work is currently traveling abroad as part of the Clark's international tour.

Audio: Curator's Voice [from Acoustiguide Tour] #504

Video: Gallery Talk -- Color and Light
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