Eugéne Louis Boudin, a marine painter, was the son of a mariner.
As a young man Boudin became familiar with Théodule Ribot, Thomas Couture, Jean-François Millet, Constant Troyon and Eugène Isabey whilst working with a local stationer and framer who displayed paintings by visiting artists. In 1847 he decided to become a professional painter and went to Paris, where he was influenced by seventeenth century Dutch art and the work of the contemporary Barbizon artists.
At an exhibition of the Société des Amis des Arts du Havre in 1858, he met Claude Monet whom he encouraged to work directly from nature. In 1859 his Pardon of Ste-Anne-la-Palud (1858; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Le Havre) was accepted at the Paris Salon, where it received praise from Charles Baudelaire. In the this year Boudin befriended Gustave Courbet.
In 1861 Boudin worked briefly with Troyon in Paris, and there encountered Camille Corot and Charles-François Daubigny whose works he admired. In 1864 he met Johan Barthold Jongkind, with whom he shared many artistic concerns.
Boudin travelled frequently throughout Normandy, Brittany, Bordeaux, and in the 1890s the French Riviera. He became known in particular for his views of harbours, rivers, coasts and beaches (e.g. Beach Scene at Trouville, 1880; Museum of Art, Philadelphia). His interest in changing atmospheric effects and broken brushwork prefigured that of the Impressionists, as well as his interest in recording the location and date of his paintings. Indeed, his works were included in the First Impressionist Exhibition in 1874. However, from 1863 to 1897 he exhibited predominantly at the Salon. In 1881 he signed a contract with the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel which brought him significant American sales.
JW drew a number of sketches of Dieppe and Baden in the late 1850s that are comparable to Boudin's studies of Trouville in 1864-5 (see Bains à Dieppe (M.220), r.: Les Côtes à Dieppe; v.: Cliffs and building (M.222) and Promenade à Baden (M.239)). It is unknown at what date Boudin and JW met. They may have come across each other in 1865 when JW was painting at Trouville with Courbet. Some of JW's pastels and watercolours of the 1880s, e.g. r.: Clouds and sky, Venice; v.: Buildings (M.820) and Note in opal - The Sands, Dieppe (M.1033), also bear a similarity with those of Boudin.
When Boudin's Villefranche; - La Rade was bought from the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (cat. no 143) by the French State at the instigation of Léon Bourgeois, Minister of Public Education, in May 1892, JW wrote to Boudin to express his congratulations. Boudin responding to JW's message of goodwill, declared that JW was 'a painter whose work I have admired for a long time' (#00355).
Like JW, Boudin was attracted to Venice and from 1892 to 1895 he made regular visits. His paintings however showed more traditional views than JW's, e.g. Venice (1895; Washington, DC, Phillips Coll.).
Hamilton, Vivien, Boudin at Trouville, London, 1993; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995; Preston, Harley, 'Eugéne Boudin', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 25 July 2002).