Impressionism and Open-Air Painting

The Sea

The exhibition ends with a room dedicated to the sea. Like mountains, the sea was viewed with fear until the 18th century. While some Neo-classical painters produced outdoor sea studies on the Bay of Naples, it was once again Constable who was responsible for the first important examples painted outdoors. The fashion for seaside holidays (shared by Constable) spread from England to northern France, and from the second quarter of the 19th century writers and painters began to discover the Normandy coast. This was also where Courbet executed his first “landscapes of the sea”, which have a material quality comparable to the rocks of his native region of the Franche-Comté. Among the Impressionists, Monet was particularly attracted to the sea; it is not by chance that he spent his youth on the Normandy coast, where he subsequently undertook six painting campaigns between 1880 and 1883, during which he depicted cliffs, sea and sky in a variety of brushstroke techniques.


Claude Monet Étretat, Rough Sea, 1883

Oil on canvas. 81 x 100 cm.
Musée des Beaux Arts, Lyon. France

Mar y rocas

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida Sea and Rocks in San Esteban, Asturias. 1903

Oil on canvas. 67 x 96 cm.
Museo Sorolla, Madrid. Spain.

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