Delacroix, View of the beach and cliffs of Etretat

DELACROIX Ferdinand Victor Eugène
Charenton-St-Maurice, 1798 – Paris, 1863

View of the beach and cliffs of Etretat
Watercolour, graphite
0,150 x. 0,190 m
Hist.: Bequest Alfred Bruyas, 1876, Inv 876.3.102

Delacroix discovered the wonders of the Normandy coast following several stays at his cousin Bataille's place in Valomnt, near Fécamp. "A stay of peace and oblivion of the whole world", this shelter offered the artist and ideal place to rest away from Paris and set up his huge official orders. During this holiday, he had several opportunities to admire the landscape of the cliffs of Etretat; Undoubtedly charmed by this great harsh architercture made of chalk, he made several studies and watercolours of it.

This view from the porte d'Amont at low tide cannot be dated precisely, but a passage of the artist's diary on October 18, 1849 relates a boat trip off Fécamp and gives the state of mind and the feelings of Delacroix in front of this landscape: "The ground under this astounding arch, seemed furrowed by cart wheels and slooked like ruins of a nancient city. This ground is this chalky white of which the cliffs are made. There are parts on the rocks which are of the brown of shadowy soil, some parts strongly green and some ochre." Exploring the chromatic decomposition of the landscape, Delacroix made a watercolour in which air and water quiver and, with the free manner of a drawing from life, he shows his sensitivity for the nature views, already annoucing Ipressionnist painting.