Adriaen van de Velde. Part 1 – Family and early influences.

I think I have already mentioned, on more than one occasion, that of all the different eras in art, my favourite is seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish art with some of my favourite artists, Jan Steen, Albert Cuyp, Jacob van Ruisdael and Paulus Potter all being born in the 1620’s.  Today, it gives me great pleasure in presenting another  talented painter of that time.   The artist I am featuring in this blog was once described as a wunderkind and the Mozart of the art world, for he, like the great composer, was a young genius.  Sadly, also like Mozart, he died young, at the age of thirty-five.  Today I am looking at the life and art of Adriaen van de Velde, whose landscapes are looked upon as being the very best that the Dutch Golden Age produced.  I also want to look at his family and other artists who influenced him.

The brothers van de Velde. Etching by Gerard Darbiche from painting by Ernest Meissonier
The brothers van de Velde.
Etching by Gerard Darbiche from painting by Ernest Meissonier

Adriaen van de Velde was born in Amsterdam in November 1636.  He came from an artistic family with both his father, Willem van de Velde the Elder, and Adriaen’s elder brother, Willem van de Velde the Younger, being marine painters.  Adriaen’s father’s interest in marine painting probably stemmed from the fact that his father, Adriaen’s Flemish-born grandfather, Willemsz van de Velde, was a bargemaster and merchant plying his trade in inland shipping.  His grandfather and his family were Calvinists and when Spain, which was staunch Catholic, took control of Flanders they were forced to move to the Protestant north, to Leiden sometime in the 1580’s.  Adriaen’s father, Willem van der Velde the Elder, was born in Leiden in 1611.  In 1631 he married Judith van Leeuwen and she went on to give him three children, Magdalena who was born in 1632, Willem in 1633 and finally Adriaen in 1636.

Battle of Dunkirk by Willem van de Velde the Elder (1639)
Battle of Dunkirk by Willem van de Velde the Elder (1639)

Willem van der Velde the Elder earliest drawings date back to the 1630’s and 1640’s and they would often feature individual ships of the Dutch fleet. His art also depicted many naval battles, which he had been commissioned to paint by the Dutch admiralty. One trip he made was in July 1653 was during the Battle of Scheveningen, which was the final naval battle of the First Anglo-Dutch War between the fleets of the Commonwealth of England and the United Provinces.  In 1658 Van de Velde accompanied the Dutch navy to Copenhagen when Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer defended the Danes’ right of way into the Baltic against Charles X’s Swedish forces; the drawings that Van de Velde produced of this battle earned him the praise of the Danish king.

Dutch Men of War at Anchor by Willem van de Velde the Elder
Dutch Men of War at Anchor by Willem van de Velde the Elder

His representation of major naval battles continued with the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1665. One of his largest commissions, from Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, was to record the Four Days’ Battle in 1666.

The Battle Council on the De Zeven Provincien by Willem van de Velde the Elder (1666)
The Battle Council on the De Zeven Provincien by Willem van de Velde the Elder (1666)

The twenty-four drawings that survive represent moments from the battle itself as well as the individual vessels that gathered around De Ruyter’s flagship. De Ruyter employed the artist again during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, to record the Battle of Solebay on June 7, 1672.and sketch battle scenes first hand and then later, in the comfort of his studio, fashion very detailed pen paintings.  His expertise with pen paintings had him referred to as a ship draughtsman or artist and ship draughtsman rather than a painter.

Dutch Ferry Boat before a Breeze by Simon de Vlieger
Dutch Ferry Boat before a Breeze by Simon de Vlieger

Adriaen’s brother Willem, who was born in Leiden was interested in carrying on the marine painting tradition of his father and was trained by his father and later by Simon de Vlieger, a Dutch designer, draughtsman, and painter, who was most famous for his marine paintings.

Willem and his father remained in Amsterdam until 1672, the year Adriaen died, and then, as a consequence of the economic collapse brought about by the French invasion they were forced to move to England to seek out a living from their artworks.  Two years later, in 1674, he and his father entered the service of Charles II, and Willem the Younger had the use of a studio in the Queen’s House at Greenwich, before moving to Westminster in 1691.

Ships in a Gale by Willem van de Velde the Younger
Ships in a Gale by Willem van de Velde the Younger

Adriaen van de Velde, although initially taught by his father, wanted to paint something different and decided to concentrate on landscape art and some believe, for that reason, it was arranged that he went to study at the studio of Jan Jansz Wijnants.

Landscape with Two Hunters by Jan Wijnants
Landscape with Two Hunters by Jan Wijnants

Wijnants was an Italianate landscape painter who took his inspiration from the art of the Dutch painters who had travelled to Italy and consciously adopted the style of landscape painting that they found there.  They then incorporated Italian models and motifs into their own works.  However, this is disputed by many as Wijnants was only five years older than Adriaen and the two were unlikely to be master and pupil.  What is agreed is that the two collaborated on some works.

Cattle in a Meadow by Paulus Potter (1652) Oil on wood.
Cattle in a Meadow by Paulus Potter (1652)
Oil on wood.

One artist of that era who was a great influence on Adriaen was Paulus Potter who was eleven years his senior.  Paulus Potter was a Dutch painter who specialized in animals within landscapes, usually with a low vantage point.  He lived in Amsterdam from 1852 to 1854 which would be about the time when sixteen-year old Adriaen would be looking for a tutor and a studio to work in.  Many believe Potter could have taken Adriaen under his wing and tutored him.

Standing Bull by Adriaen van de Velde (c.1657)
Standing Bull by Adriaen van de Velde (c.1657)

Adriaen van de Velde besides being a talented landscape painter was also an accomplished draughtsman. He was actively involved in the practice of staffage.  So what is staffage?  Staffage is when an artist adds human or animal figures as subordinate elements to a landscape painting in order to give the painting a livelier appearance. Staffage was commonly used by 16th- and 17th-century landscape painters, who would often include religious and mythological scenes in their works. Staffage was frequently painted into a picture, not by the landscapist, but by another artist and this where Adriaen came into his element for he was extremely talented when it came to drawing animals and humans and added figures and animals into paintings by Meindert Hobbema, Jacob van Ruisdael, Willem Verboom and other contemporary artists.

Kneeling Female by Adriaen van de Velde
Kneeling Female by Adriaen van de Velde

Adriaen van de Velde was one of only a few seventeenth century landscape artists whose surviving graphic collection of works include figure studies. Many of his figure studies and sketches, which were later used in his paintings, still exist.  Adriaen completed many female nude studies and was always interested in posture and how it affected the female form.  A nude female sketch of his can be found in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford entitled Kneeling Female Nude.

The Annunciation to the Virgin by Adriaen van de Velde (1667)
The Annunciation to the Virgin by Adriaen van de Velde (1667)

It is thought that this sketch could have been a preliminary sketch he used when painting The Annunciation to the Virgin which he completed in 1667 and which now hangs in the Rijksmuseum.

Vertumnus and Pomona by Adriaen van de Velde
Vertumnus and Pomona by Adriaen van de Velde

Adriaen completed a work which highlights his ability to depict the female form.  It is entitled Vertumnus and Pomona and was completed in 1670.  Vertumnus and Pomona is a story of seduction and deception from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and the two featured in many 17th century Dutch paintings. Vertumnus, the Roman god of seasons and change, assumed multiple guises as he attempted to woo the recalcitrant wood nymph Pomona.

The Migration of Jacob by Adriaen van de Velde (1663)
The Migration of Jacob by Adriaen van de Velde (1663)

Besides his wonderful landscapes Adriaen completed many religious works and his “stand out” painting would probably be one he completed in 1663 entitled The Migration of Jacob.  The depiction is based on the story in the Old Testament (Genesis XXXI, 17-18):

“…Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan…”

Jacob left Paddan Aram in Northwest Mesopotamia, fleeing from his father -in-law, Laban whom he had worked for,  for more than twenty years. The bible story continued:

“…When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods.  Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. So he fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead…”

In the painting, we see a large procession meandering through the countryside.  It is headed by Jacob who with his wives, possessions and cattle are on a journey to reach his father, Isaac, who lived in Canaan.  Jacob, wearing the white turban sits astride the bay horse and we see him talking to his favourite wife, Rachel.  She is riding the white horse whilst she breast-feeds her child, Joseph.  The figures in the painting are in the shadows whilst the two main protagonists and those who are herding the sheep, are bathed in sunlight.  If one did not know the story one would believe it is a peaceful procession slowly crossing the landscape but Adriaen has add dark threatening clouds to give the idea that there is an urgency to this “convoy” and that not all is well.  Laban, after three days, realised that his daughter and son-in-law have left taking with them many of his possessions and gives chase.  What happened next ?   I will leave you to consult the Old Testament book of Genesis to find out !!

Agony in the Garden by Adriaen van de Velde
Agony in the Garden by Adriaen van de Velde

Another religious work by the artist was Agony in the Garden. This picture belongs to the principal group of large-scale religious works by him which he completed in the 1660s for the secret Catholic places of worship in and around Amsterdam. These commissions for religious works by the Catholic Church followed on from his marriage in 1657 to a Catholic lady, Maria Pietersz Ouderkerck, at which time he also converted to Catholicism.

In my next look at the works of Adriaen van de Velde I will be concentrating on what he was best known for  – his exquisite landscapes.

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Frigates by Johan Barthold Jongkind

Frigates by Johan Jongkind (1853)

My featured artist today is the nineteenth century Dutch painter and one who is considered to be the forerunner of Impressionism.  His name is Johan Barthold Jongkind.

Jongkind was born in 1819 in the small Dutch town of Lattrop in the Dutch province of Overijssel, close to the German border, although much of his early life was spent in the harbour town of Vlaardingen, which lies on the River Meuse, and where his father, Gerrit Adrianus Jonkind, was a local tax collector.  His father and mother, Wilhelmina, had ten children of which Johan was the eighth.  At the age of sixteen, once he had finished his education, he went to work as a junior clerk in a notary’s office.  A year later in 1836 his father died and Johan moved from Vlaardingen to The Hague where he enrolled at the Academy of Arts to study drawing under the tutelage of the director of Andreas Schelfhout, the Dutch Romantic painter, etcher and lithographer, who was renowned for his landscape works and who, by the end of his life, was looked upon as the leading Dutch landscape painter of the nineteenth century.

He spent almost nine years working at the Schelfhout’s studio training as a landscape painter and studying the great works of the Dutch Golden Age painters who plied their trade between the late sixteenth and mid to latter part of the seventeenth century, such as Jacob von Ruisdael, Meindert Hobbema and Aelbert Cuyp.  It was during this time that Jongkind developed the love of en plein air painting.  The early works of Jongkind depicted themes popular in the Netherlands at the time, harbour scenes with boats as well as canals , windmills and winter scenes featuring skaters on the frozen waterways.  His works grew in popularity and one of the admirers of his paintings was the leader of the French Romantic School, the landscape and seascape painter, Eugène Isabey.  Isabey had accompanied Alfred Emile de Nieuwkerke, who was the directeur des Beaux-Arts in Paris, to The Hague for the unveiling of the equestrian statue of William the Silent in front of the Paleis Noordeinde.  Isabey invites Jongkind to Paris to study in his studio and in 1846, with the financial support from the Prince of Orange, the young Dutch artist headed to the French capital where he remained for ten years.

Jongkind not only studied with Isabey but also with the French painter, François-Edouard Picot.   He also met many of the landscape painters of the Barbizon School with whom he often worked with and exhibited his works alongside theirs.  Despite his initial traditional training as a Dutch landscape artist, his painting technique evolved and soon his works took on a new range of colour and he became fascinated with the pictorial representation of light.  It was this interest in light which would become essential in the development of Impressionism.

When Jongkind had first arrived in Paris he discovered the river Seine and this became a new source of inspiration for his art. He also depicted many aspects of Paris life but preferred to concentrate on the industrial modernity and urban development of the capital rather than the touristy scenes of the crowded city.   His style is often likened to Naturalism, which is the representation of the world with a minimum of abstraction or stylistic distortion.  It is the depiction of realistic objects in a natural setting and is characterised by convincing effects of light and surface texture.

It was whilst in France that he fell in love with the Normandy and Brittany coast which he visited whilst on a painting and sketching trip with Isabey.  He would return to the area many times during his life and some of his best watercolour works incorporate the beautiful and strong lighting found along the Atlantic shoreline.  One of his great artistic successes came in 1850 when he exhibited his work View of Honfleur port at the Paris Salon exhibition.  It received great acclaim from the art critics.

For Jongkind, the streets of Paris were not paved with gold and he spent nine financially difficult years in Paris and had no choice but to live a bohemian existence. He had a number of his paintings rejected by the Salon jurists.  He put forward three of his paintings for inclusion at the 1855 World Exhibition but was disappointed at the lack of interest for his works.  He was now starting to feel dejected and depressed at the way his life was going.   In 1855 his mother died and the thirty-six year old artist returned to The Netherlands and set up home in Rotterdam and with this change of country came his change in painting style as he returned to a more traditional Dutch style of art which he had initially be trained in, during his early life.  Jongkind remained in Holland for five years but the sale of his paintings in his homeland were disappointing.   The only art he managed to sell was to a French art dealer and one of his first patrons, Pierre-Firmin Martin.   Martin’s gallery was on the rue Mogador and he routinely bought works from artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jean-FrançoisMillet, Theodore Rousseau, Constant Troyon, and Charles-François Daubigny.   Martin was such a great support figure for these artists that they called him Père or Father in English. Jongkind would send Père Martin a painting and in return he would receive a 100 franc note.  However Jongkind could not survive alone on this and as a result he found himself getting deeper and deeper in debt and so in 1860 he decided to return to Paris where he believed the sale of his works would improve and where his standing as a painter was much greater.  He said at the time:

“…It is Paris where I am recognized as a painter…”

However to return to Paris he needed money and he had none.  However through his Parisian friends led by Comte Doria and Père Martin they put on an auction of their works and managed to raise 6046 francs which was used to bring back their friend to Paris.

Jongkind settles down in Montparnasse in Paris.  His friendship with the art dealer Père Martin continued and it was whilst attending one of his dinners that Jongkind was introduced to Joséphine Fesser-Borrhee, a Dutch lady who taught art at a home for Parisian girls.   This lady who was to shape the rest of Jongkind’s life was an interesting character.  She like him, was born in 1819.   She had been abandoned by her parents and brought up in a children’s home. Although known as Marie Borrhée she would later take the name of Joséphine.    At the age of twenty she arrived in Paris, where she was taught to draw, and later she went on to teach in a home for young girls.   Having had a very difficult childhood she was ideally placed to understand the temperament of her troubled friend, Jongkind,  who in many ways was something of an orphan himself.  Jongkind had immediately taken to Joséphine and shortly after their first meeting at the house of Père Martin; he wrote her a letter in which he commented:

“…When I saw you arrive, it was as if my mother and father were coming to fetch me!…”

She was married to Alexander Fesser with whom she had a son, Jules.   It was the Fesser family and especially Joséphine, who through their kind hospitality and friendship, enabled Jongkind to recover both his physical and mental health  and in doing so had a great impact on the quality of his artistic work.  Jonkind and Fesser would travel around France but on many occasions he would return to Normandy.  It was here in 1862 he met Claude Monet.  Monet once described Jongkind’s and his works of art and chided him for his long-standing inability to master the French language saying:

“….a good-hearted, shy man who butchered French and whose art was too new and too artistic to be, in 1862, appreciated to its true value…”

For the next years, the influence of the Normandy coast showed through Jongkind’s abundant production of etchings and paintings. In Normandy, Jongkind became a close friend of Monet a mixed with the likes of Corot, Diaz, Boudin, Sisley and many of the other great artists who used to gather at the Farm Saint-Simeon run by Mère Toutain.

Joséphine Fesser was to become Jongkind’s guardian angel and companion for life and although she remained married to her husband Alexandre she became Jongkind’s mistress.   She was a very caring person and brought a soothing stability and balance to his life. The sale of his art works grew and Jongkind, reputation as an artist, gained in popularity. The number of his commissions increased and with the rise in his art sales his finances improved and with that came a sort of mental calmness, free from worry, and his personality blossomed.   Through Joséphine,  Jongkind had discovered the Dauphiné region of south-east France.  He soon got himself into an annual routine of spending the summer months there and returning to Paris in the winter months.

The first exhibition of the Impressionists in the studio of the photographer Nadar was held in 1874 and although asked to exhibit some of his works, Jongkind declined as by this time in his life, due to his poor health and intemperance he had given up submitting his paintings to major art exhibitions.  Joséphine’s husband died in 1875 and after his death, Madame Fesser remained with Jongkind in Paris. During the late 1870’s when Jongkind was in his fifties his health started to deteriorate and he spent more time in the warmer climes and fresher air of the Dauphiné.

From 1878 until his death in 1891 Jongkind and Joséphine Fesse live in la Côte-Saint-André near Grenoble.  During the last year of his life Jongkind was beset with mental problems, suffering from bouts of depression and paranoia which led him back to alcohol dependence. His mood swings caused by the excess consumption of alcohol led him to be banned from most of the cultural and social activities of the town.  He died in Saint-Rambert hospital close to Grenoble on February 9th 1891 aged 71.  Joséphine Fesser outlived him by just a few months. They are both buried in the small cemetery of La Côte-Saint-André, on the outskirts of the town.

My featured work today by Johan Jongkind is entitled Frigates.  In the painting we see a seaside port which is an idealised view made up of many sites, which was a technique often used by many Dutch landscape painters.   It was completed in 1853, just a couple of years before he left Paris to return to The Netherlands.  The painting highlights his great ability to depict atmosphere and light effects.  Look how well he has depicted the reflections of the ships in the rippling water of the harbour.  Art historians believed that it was Jongkind’s  mastery of light in his works that was to influence the likes of the young Impressionist painter Claude Monet.

The painting is normally housed in the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts but is now part of the exhibition From Paris: a Taste for Impressionism, which is being held at the Royal Academy in London.   This wonderful exhibition of works by Monet, Manet, Sisley, Renoir and many others is on until September 23rd 2012

Étretat by Various artists

There are many subjects depicted by artists in their paintings which are the same.  One only has to think of religious paintings and the likes of the pietà or the deposition or even the crucifixion itself to see how numerous artists choose the same subject for their works of art.  It is also reasonably common for one artist to paint many versions of the same subject.  Think of how many times Vincent van Gogh painted his Sunflowers.  The last blog I did featured a painting of Bentheim Castle by Jacob van Ruisdael and I told you that he had actually painted the subject no fewer than fifteen times.  Today I am going to focus on geological structure that many artists have used in their paintings and I will let you compare them and see what you think.  First let me show you the location as you would see it today.

Cliffs and The Pinnacle at Étretat

The place is Étretat which is situated in the Haute-Normandie region of Northern France.  The town itself is about twenty miles north-east of Le Havre but it is not the town which claims the fame and which has always fascinated artists but its cliffs.  The single beach of Étretat is separated from the town by a sea-wall promenade and lies between two well-known cliffs.  To the east of the town lies the Amont Cliff and to the west lies the Aval cliff with its huge arch, Porte d’Aval,  cut through the chalk structure.   Slightly offshore of the Porte d’Aval stands the solitary needle rock known as L’Aiguille.    During the late nineteenth century this area of Normandy was very popular with Parisian families and with this popularity it soon became a very fashionable place to visit.

In 1868, Claude Monet lived at Étretat with Camille Doncieux,  whom he was to marry two years later.  He revisited the town on a number of occasions in the 1880’s so as to work on a number of paintings depicting the cliffs and sea.   Étretat had already been painted by both Delacroix and Courbet and in fact Monet owned a Delacroix watercolour of the area.. When Monet visited Étretat in 1883 he had planned to create his own Normandy seascapes, saying:

“I reckon on doing a big canvas on the cliff of Étretat, although it’s terribly audacious of me to do that after Courbet who did it so well, but I’ll try to do it differently.”

Because of the increasing popularity of the area with holidaymakers, Monet sensed that there would be a good market for paintings depicting this area. The area had everything, magnificent cliff structures from the top of which one had spectacular views of the sea, which sometimes had a mirror-like calm sheen about it, whilst on other times it exhibited a terrible unforgiving  ferocity as it crashed on to the foot of the cliffs, biting away at the base of the massive chalk structures

During the 1880s, Monet rediscovered the Normandy coast and visited the area many times so as to draw by the sea. He was fascinated by its dramatic cliffs and rock arches and was constantly looking for somewhere with outstanding natural beauty and a place where he could observe the effects of natural light on the sea and on the chalk and limestone cliffs.  He would move from one position to another continually looking for the best natural lighting of the cliffs and the sea. His search for the perfect light on the sea and the perfect position from where it could be seen was of paramount importance.  He once said:

“…I know that to really paint the sea it has to be seen every day at any hour and from the same spot to know its life at this very spot ; that’s why I’m repeating the same subjects up to four and even six times…”

Stormy Sea at Étretat by Claude Monet (1883)

In 1883 Monet completed a work entitled Stormy Sea in Étretat, which is now housed in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon.  The painting is set on a winter day and we can see is being whipped up by gale force winds.  It is believed that Monet worked on this painting as he sat at the window of his hotel room.  What a wonderful depiction of the ferocity of the sea with the white curls of the surf atop the waves.  In the foreground we have the beach on which we see five boats.  Three of which are filled with what looks like thatch whilst the other two on the right seemed to have been abandoned and show signs that they have had to endure a battering in the waves.  Two men, stand by the boats, looking out on the rough seas.  To the left we have the cliffs and the Porte d’Aval,  above which we have the storm and rain clouds rushing towards the land.

The Étretat Cliffs after the Storm by Gustave Courbet (1870)

The next painting I am featuring is one which depicts a similar view but is a work which depicts the time after a storm.  The title is La falaise d’Étretat après l’orage [The Etretat Cliffs after the Storm] and was completed by Gustave Courbet in 1870.  Courbet visited Étretat that summer and stayed in a house by the sea which was tucked against the Aval cliffs to the left of the bay.  He painted a number of versions of this scene but the one you see above is housed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.  Courbet like other artists was attracted to this area not only because of the breathtaking geological structures but because of the quality of natural light and the clarity of the air.  The composition of the sea, the land with its cliffs and rocks and the sky is well balanced.  Courbet had sent the painting for exhibition at the Paris Salon in 1870 where it was well received and Courbet’s reputation as a painter was enhanced.  Of the painting, the art critic and Courbet’s friend, Jules Antoine Castagnary, marvelled at the beauty of his friend’s work and described the elements of the work, speaking of:

 “…the free, joyous air which circulates in the canvas and envelops the details…”

Beach at Etretat by Eugène-Louis Boudin (1890)

Another artist to depict this area in his painting was Eugène-Louis Boudin who in 1890 completed his work entitled Beach at Étretat.  Here we are looking at the scene from a vantage point similar to the previous works.  On the beach we once again see abandoned fishing boats which have been ravaged by the wind and sea.  Sails can be seen hanging from mast boom, shredded by the ferocity of a previous storm and probably act as a warning to the men as they contemplate a return to the fishing grounds.  In the distance we can just make out a steamship passing westward.

Étretat, Laundresses on the Beach, Low Tide by Eugène Bourdin (1892)

Two years later in 1892, Boudin, a noted marine painter, completed a very interesting depicting the beach at Étretat entitled Etretat, Laundresses on the Beach, Low Tide which is held in a private collectionThe setting is the same but the tide has retreated into the distance.  We are left with the brown and green of the rocks which have briefly lost their watery covering.  The breathtaking rock structure of the cliffs is not the focus of our attention in this work.  Before us we have a large group of women who have come down to the beach to do their washing.  It is a veritable hive of activity.

The Manneporte near Étretat by Monet (1886)

For my final painting I am returning to one painted by Monet in 1886 of the Manneporte, a spectacular rock structure just to the west of Étretat and the Aval cliffs.   It is entitled Manneporte (Étretat) and can now be found in the Metroploitan Museum of Art in New York.   This was one of nearly twenty views of the beach at Étretat and the spectacular rock formations such as the Porte d’Aval, Porte d’Amont and the Manneporte which rise upwards on along the coastline that Monet painted. In this painting Monet has captured the way the sunlight strikes the Manneporte, this beautiful natural wonder.  The reason for Monet painting so many pictures of the same scene was that he wanted to capture the changing light at different times of the day and during differing weather conditions

The writer Guy de Maupassant wrote his eyewitness account of Monet at Étretat.

“…The artist walked along the beach, followed by children carrying five or six canvases representing the same subject at different times of the day and with different effects. He took them up and put them aside by turns according to changes in the sky and shadows…”

One can so well imagine that scene.