The cliffs of Etretat are still intimately linked to Claude Monet today. He stayed there between 1883 and 1886.
The dramatic character of the cliffs
Monet stayed in Étretat every year between 1883 and 1886. Fascinated by the spectacular and dramatic character of the cliffs of Etretat, he represents the small port and the high chalky walls more than 80 times, observing all the points of view possible. The seaside resort is then very fashionable, and has already been painted many times over the years. 1830. Its representation is a challenge for Monet, especially after the famous Waves by Gustave Courbet. The artist therefore seeks new approaches outside the village.
Monet at Etretat : Six different versions
The canvas of Caen (picture) does not take up the landscape most commonly represented by Monet and 19th century painters (the cliff d’Aval or l’Aiguille), but a less common motif, the Manneporte (or gate because it is the highest of the three cliffs), further away and hardly accessible. In 1885, he painted six different versions. It was with wonder that Monet discovered the Manneporte, 1883, as we read in his correspondence: “I have just come back from working, from working well even […]. You are right to envy me, you can’t get an idea of the beauties of the sea for two days, but what a talent he it would take to make that, it’s maddening. As for the cliffs, they are here like nowhere. I came down today in a place where I had never dared to venture before and I saw admirable things there, too did I quickly come back to get my paintings… » Letter to Alice Hoschedé, Étretat, February 3, 1883 To find ever more expressive motifs, Monet did not hesitate to leave beaten track. Access to this point of view is perilous, assuming a long walking enamelled with acrobatics or the use of a fishing boat. Claude Monet probably placed his easel on a small terrace in below the summit of the Pointe de la Courtine.