Eugene Boudin was born in Honfleur, the son of a seaman. At the age of twelve he worked as a clerk to a publisher and soon after to a stationer. In 1844 he set up, with a partner, his own stationers' but after a dispute with his partner turned to painting in 1846.
Boudin associated with a number of artists including Theodule Ribot, Thomas Couture, Constant Troyon and Eugene Isabey, and was encouraged to move to Paris to study. Success eluded him, however in 1859 Boudin was awarded a grant by the City of Le Havre to study in Paris for three years. Boudin traveled extensively and would do so all his life, in his early years painting in Normandy and Brittany. In 1858 Boudin met and encouraged Claude Monet, although Boudin had yet to find a consistent market for his works, 1861 saw him reduced to painting skies for Thomas Constant and Couture Troyon.
Boudin married in 1863, settling in Paris but continuing to travel to Normandy and Brittany and in the 1870's to Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1874 at the landmark exhibition of the Impressionists, Boudin showed three works, he did not however exhibit at their later shows.
Financial success came in 1881 with the art dealer Paul Durand Ruel, who bought his work. In 1884 Boudin was able to build a house in Deauville, source of so much of his subject matter. He visited and painted on the Mediterranean coast in 1894 and, 1895 painted in Venice. Boudin, although best known for his harbor and beach scenes, was a prolific painter of landscapes, cattle and village life in addition. He was highly regarded by his peers, Corot, Jongkind, Monet, Troyon, Couture and Charles Beaudelaire, and in the influence he exerted on Monet, had a significant bearing on the birth of Impressionism.
His works can be found in museums in Le Havre; Nantes; Paris; Rotterdam; London; Stockholm and New York.
The Beach at Villerville, 1864. Eugène Boudin. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.