He was at the height of his fame, a fashionable painter of vacationing Parisians on Normandy’s coastline. To an extent he had prefigured Impressionism, capturing the fleeting effects of light and weather and painting entire compositions, rather than just sketches, outdoors.
In later years, Boudin grew tired of the casinos and resorts of famous beach towns such as Trouville, where he had painted his career-defining canvases that sell upwards of £500,000 on the market today, preferring to paint the smaller and more intimate beaches on Normandy’s coastline.
The rugged fishing village of Berck-sur-Mer was a favourite spot. Visiting mainly in the off-season, he captured locals going about their daily lives on Berck’s beaches, often under expansive skies. One of these scenes was consigned from a local estate to Lewes saleroom Gorringe’s (21% buyer’s premium) and offered in The Winter Sale on December 3.
Berck – Bateaux Échoués shows stranded boats on the beach beneath Boudin’s trademark domineering cloudscape and low horizon.
The 18in x 2ft 2in (46 x 66cm) oil and canvas had passed by descent from Gay Leigh, the third wife of the social housing pioneer Claude Moss Leigh (1888-1964). It also came with extensive ownership history stretching back to the 19th century Paris-based collector Charles Ricada and had passed through Hôtel Drouot in 1893 and Christie’s three times in the early 20th century. London galleries Sampson, The Lefevre Gallery and Arthur Tooth & Sons had also handled the picture.
Gorringe’s picture specialist Clifford Lansberry said it attracted “fair pre-sale interest” and on the day sold for £33,000 to a Canadian buyer, believed to be linked to the trade. The price was towards the upper £35,000 guide.
The Leigh estate also consigned a Paris view of Montmartre by one of Boudin’s students, French landscape painter Stanislas Lépine (1835-92), whose preferred subject throughout his life was the river Seine. It too had provenance to Ricada and had passed through several salerooms and galleries in Paris and London before it was bought by the Leigh family.
An almost identical version, bought in 1936 by the director of the National Gallery, Sir Kenneth Clark, hangs in Southampton City Art Gallery.
Given the descriptive title Paris vu de la Butte Montmartre Côté Sud Avant la Construction du Square Willette, the 21in x 2ft 2in (53 x 66cm) oil on canvas sold to a buyer in Germany on the bottom estimate for £20,000.
Overall, take-up was high for the picture section at Gorringe’s, which contained around 120 paintings and mixed-media works from the 18th century to the present day, the majority valued below £3000.
Competitive bidding emerged for The Guests, a typical Pre-Raphaelite-esque watercolour by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale (1871-1945), who is known for her vibrant jewel-like book illustrations.
The 16 x 10½in (41 x 27cm) watercolour was dated 1900 – two years before she became the first female member of the Institute of Painters in Oils – and came with an old label for Dowdeswell Galleries in London. It sold for £4400 (£400-600 estimate).
There was also a £2400 (£1500-2500 estimate) portrait reputedly of Abraham Charles Adye (1748-1815), a barrister and Lieutenant Governor of Grenada between 1811-12. It was catalogued as Circle of Sir Nathaniel Dance (1735-1811) and was consigned by Adye family together with medals, portrait miniatures and eight 19th century watercolours by General Sir John Miller Adye (1819-1900), all of which found buyers.