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The Cliffs at Étretat

Claude Monet

French, 1840–1926

The Cliffs at Étretat


Between October and December 1885, Monet made nearly fifty paintings of the Normandy coast. This work shows the Porte d’Aval, a naturally formed arch, and a freestanding needle-like rock that attracted tourists and artists alike to the town of Étretat. Monet painted this view of the cliffs from an unusual location, accessible only by boat or via a precipitous path. The writer Guy de Maupassant described how the artist “watched the sun and the shadows, capturing in a few brushstrokes a falling ray of light or a passing cloud.”

Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 25 5/8 x 32 in. (65.1 x 81.3 cm) Frame: 37 1/2 x 43 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (95.3 x 110.5 x 9.5 cm)
Object Number 1955.528
Acquisition Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1933
Status On View


Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012.


The artist, sold to Sutton; James F. Sutton, New York (d. 1915); Mrs. James F. Sutton, New York, by descent (1915–33, sale, American Art Association, New York, 26 Oct. 1933, no. 60, ill., as Les Falaises d’Etretat, Normandie, sold to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, New York, sold to Clark, 30 Oct. 1933]; Robert Sterling Clark (1933–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.