Impressionist Painters set up their easels along the Channel coast and along the banks of the beautiful River Seine, in Monet’s private gardens in Giverny and in Rouen’s Old Town, who were inspired by the unique light, the beauty and the true mystery of Normandy.
Le Havre was the setting and, also the inspiration for the famous 1872 painting by Claude Monet: Impression, Soleil Levant- Impression, Sunrise.
Normandy was for a lot of artists their birthplace and home. Normandy’s proximity to the capital Paris together with the many number of fashionable seaside resorts like Dieppe, Le Havre, Deauville, Honfleur or Trouville along its coast meant that artists came to the region by train and stayed, which produced an artistic legacy which would be hard to rival anywhere.
Breaking away from the more classical and formalised themes seen in the early part of the 19th Century the impressionist painters preferred to paint outdoors concentrating on towns, scenes of daily life and landscapes using the natural light.
The Honfleur artist Eugene Boudin was a major part of impressionism and had a particular infleumce on Claude Monet. In his words ‘if I am a painter, I owe it to Eugene Boudin.
The Cote de Grace, Deauville, Le Havre, Trouville, The Caux County and Rouen were for over half a century were the inspiration for numerous canvasses.
Father of modern painting and leader of the movement Claude Monet is perhaps one of the best known impressionists and he is also a major character in the artistic heritage of Normandy.
Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny are one of Normandy’s major tourist sites visited for the beautiful gardens, water lilies and more importantly the major influence they had on Monet’s artist inspiration.
Normandy was at the heart of Monet’s creatyion. The painters of Rouens’s Cathedral, the cliffs of Etretat, the beach and port in Fecamp and the sunrise in Le Havre.
Monet met Eugene Boudin and Jongkind in Honfleur. Mixing with artists such as Corot, Sisley, Pissarro, Courbet and Renvoir and bought them to Honfleur to paint.
The River Seine also provided a lot of inspiration to painters whose new technique enabled them to depict the beautifully sparkling colours of moving water and of course the reflection of the sky and clouds.
Further north at the top of the Manche County, the painter Millet produced many works which illustrate the local church or scenes of peasants working in the fields.
An outstanding amount of impressionist works can be seen in galleries throughout Normandy although many of Monet’s works can be viewed all over the world.
While Eugene Boudin, Marcel, Duchamp and Raoul Dufy are all Norman by birth, many others fell under the spell and charm of the region and came to stay and even settled in the area.
With so many sources of beauty provided by the region many landscapes, and scenes of daily life were depicted on canvas. With the likes of William Turner, Auguste Renior, Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso amongst others, living in close proximity also helped provide endless amounts of inspiration.
Today you can spend time walking in their footsteps and admire some timeless landscapes as well as many stunning original works.
You can try finding your own inspiration in the charming sleepy villages, vibrant colours, landscapes and ethereal light that captured the hearts of Sisley, Turner, Claude Monet and many other artists.