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Oil painting - Rocky Coast near Le Havre: Sunset
  • Rocky Coast near Le Havre: Sunset
    Lepoittevin, Eugène Modeste Edmond, born 1806 - died 1870
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Rocky Coast near Le Havre: Sunset

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1839 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lepoittevin, Eugène Modeste Edmond, born 1806 - died 1870 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Eugène Lepoittevin (1806-1870) was born in Paris where he trained under Louis Hersent (1777-1860) and Auguste-Xavier Leprince (1799-1826). He was a prolific landscape painter and lithographer and exhibited regularly in the Salon in Paris from 1831. He travelled in England, the Netherlands, France and Italy. He borrowed from wide-ranging sources and mainly produced landscapes, history paintings and a famous Album de diableries.

This painting is a fine example of Lepoittevin's seascapes executed during the 1830s probably after he travelled to the Netherlands. The composition relies in fact on earlier Dutch examples such as the paintings of Jan van Goyen (1596-1656). These earlier models were newly explored in the first half of the 19th century as they display a direct observation of the natural world in which the Romantics were interested in their opposition to academic art.

Physical description

A rocky coast at sunset with a sailing boat in the middle distance.

Place of Origin

Paris (probably, painted)


1839 (painted)


Lepoittevin, Eugène Modeste Edmond, born 1806 - died 1870 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'ELP [in monogram] 1839'
Signed and dated by the artist, lower left


Height: 27.3 cm estimate, Width: 35.5 cm estimate, :

Object history note

Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, listed in the 1868 post-mortem register of the contents of his London house (V&A R/F MA/1/T1181) in the 'Fossil and Mineral Room. Front' (?) as 'An Oil on canvas. Rocky Coast-near Havre? By E. Poittevin. In Frame. Signed with Initials, French. Present Cent.y. H. 10 ¾ in., W. 1 ft. 2 in.'; Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868.
Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868.

Historical significance: This painting is a fine example of Lepoittevin's seaviews. It depicts a rocky coast near Le Havre at sunset. The spacious, horizontal format and pictorial rendering of a diffuse sunset light is reminiscent of Dutch landscape paintings of the 17th century. Lepoittevin was particularly influenced by Dutch paintings in the 1830s, especially after he travelled to the Netherlands.
The compositional formula is dominated by three pinnacles in the middle distance, bathed in the shade, set against the waning sunset light. These elements provide the picture with a sense of mystery, typical of the Romantic imagery.
Comparable subjects by Lepoittevin include Fisherman waving at a boat from the shore, Port-en-Bessin, dated 1832, and A Family on the seashore, dated 1846, both in the Musée maritime de l'Ile Tatihou, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue.
Lepoittevin is often compared with the Romantic painter Eugène Isabey (1803-1886) whose oeuvre includes similar compositions such as Boat at Moon Light, Musée National Magnin, Dijon.
This painting was hung in the Fossil and Mineral Room in the Rev Townshend's house in London.

Historical context note

19th-century French art is marked by a succession of movements based on a more or less close relationship with nature. At the beginning of the century, Romantic artists were fascinated by nature they interpreted as a mirror of the mind. They investigated human nature and personality, the folk culture, the national and ethnic origins, the medieval era, the exotic, the remote, the mysterious and the occult. This movement was heralded in France by such painter as Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). In its opposition to academic art and its demand for a modern style Realism continued the aims of the Romantics. They assumed that reality could be perceived without distortion or idealization, and sought after a mean to combine the perception of the individual with objectivity. This reaction in French painting against the Grand Manner is well represented by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) who wrote a 'Manifesto of Realism', entitled Le Réalisme published in Paris in 1855. These ideas were challenged by the group of the Barbizon painters, who formed a recognizable school from the early 1830s to the 1870s and developed a free, broad and rough technique. They were mainly concerned by landscape painting and the rendering of light. The works of Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña (1807-1876), Jules Dupré (1811-1889), Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), Constant Troyon (1810-1865) and Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) anticipate somehow the plein-air landscapes of the Impressionists.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Rocky Coast near Le Havre: Sunset', Eugène Modeste Edmond Lepoittevin, 1839

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 , London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 63, cat. no. 136.
List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington Museum, acquired during the year 1869, London, 1870, p. 110.


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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