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Normandy is the birthplace of a great number of artists among whom: Fernand Léger, Jean-François Millet, Eugène Boudin, and has inspired the work of many others: Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet … each of them fascinated by its extraordinary light embracing its seafront, harbours and landscapes alike


How did this region, the very birthplace of the 19th and 20th Centuries' most illustrious artists, come to inspire so many painters in their expression and their portrayal of its countryside through masterpieces that can now be admired in the world's greatest museums and galleries?
The answer to this question does not reside in the existence of an artistic school or style, but simply in our region's natural geographical features. First and foremost, its extraordinary luminosity swathing its seafront, harbours, landscapes, towns and the Seine Estuary.


In the early 19th Century, the talented English watercolour and landscape artists, Richard Parkes Bonnington and William Turner frequently visited Normandy producing works of art heralding the beginnings of a new style of landscape painting bathed in finesse and « impression ». At the same time, the young artist, Jean-François Millet, whilst attending the Cherbourg art school, attentive to the harsh working and living conditions of peasants and fisherman in La Hague, portrayed them through his art with original realism. Shortly afterwards, as from 1840, young artists joined their friend, Eugène Boudin, in his hometown of Honfleur, and, together, they set the foundations of a new manner of appreciating and depicting nature. So many studies produced by artists such as Johan Barthold Jongkind, Eugène Isabey, Gustave Courbet, Adolphe Félix Cals, James Abbott McNeill Whistler and many more who settled each year to pursue their work in Honfleur and on the Normandy coastline.
From 1860 onwards, the same group occasionally welcomed Edouard Manet, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, Camille Pissarro, Gustave Caillebotte and, more frequently, Claude Monet All of the aforementioned artists took great pleasure in meeting in Honfleur to share the emotion aroused by their favourite landscapes: from the Étretat cliffs to the vast open landscapes of the estuary, the beaches in Trouville and the meanders of the Seine. It was Claude Monet's « impression, rising sun » that was to give impressionism its name in 1874.
Edgar Degas, resident in the town of Exmes in Orne, also regularly portrayed the region's horses.


However, the great romance between artists and our beautiful Normandy does not end with impressionist art. Paul Signac and Georges Seurat were the originators of a new technique known as pointillism. The former, who often portrayed the Seine and its embankments, retired to Barfleur, on the northern tip of the Cotentin peninsula, where his latest works were completed. The latter devoted part of his art to the towns of Honfleur, Port-en-Bessin and Grandcamp.
The Normandy coastline even succeeded in inspiring Fauvist painters who generally preferred bright colours and violent contrast (Albert Marquet, Kees Van Dongen, and, in particular, the two Le Havre born artists, Othon Friesz and Raoul Dufy).
Hence, Normandy contributed to new painting techniques and forms. The region is depicted in the most advanced of the 20th Century's artistic movements, particularly through the cubist Georges Braque or the « radically abstract » style adopted by Jean Héloin, from Couterne in Orne, or Fernand Léger, born in Argentan, who successively adopted all of the artistic movements of his time, from impressionism to abstraction to finally return to figurative art in his later years.

  • Peinture représentant Barbey d'Aurevilly au musée
  • Tableau jumelage avec Röthlein (Allemagne)
  • Tableau représentant le littoral
  • Peinture murale de Balias à Ecouché