Claude Monet | Boats below the Cliffs at Pourville, 1882

Bateaux devant les falaises de Pourville / Boats below the Cliffs at Pourville features a bold geometrically structured composition of diagonals and horizontals, reflective of the more simplified approach that Monet was then exploring.
The horizon line bisects the canvas into two parts of roughly equal size; two tranches of nearly identical size and shape form the sand and sea, whilst the diagonal line of the cliff runs to the very centre of the composition.
The slightly raised vantage point from which Monet has captured this view serves, in comparison with other views from this group, to considerably foreshorten the angle of the shoreline.


This emphasises the two-dimensional surface of the canvas, lending the foreground a distinct sense of flatness further accentuated by both the thin strokes of red which demarcate the shoreline and the remarkably brushy and brusquely applied paint describing the sand.
Here, Monet was clearly revelling in the textures of the paint, manipulating it quickly and spontaneously.
This contrasts with the thinner taches of the glinting aquamarine sea, resplendent with its many bobbing sailing boats.
Monet, true to the Impressionist aesthetic that he endorsed and indeed embodied at this time, painted en plein-air and the breezy coastline with its highly variable weather are captured in the full-blown sails of the boats and a sky that hints at change to come.
The harmoniously structured composition of Bateaux devant les falaises de Pourville is underpinned by Monet's sensitive use of colour.
Warm soft pinks alternate with cooler blues, mauves and greens, but throughout the whole Monet has interwoven rhyming coloured touches, carrying the eye across the surface of the picture.
This was a technique he began to explore more fully throughout the 1880s, where his canvases were increasingly devoted to the expression of harmonious, over-all effects. Monet loved the sea and, though he sometimes railed at its changeable weather, had a special affection for this particular spot on the Normandy coast. | © Christie's

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