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Impressionism and the sea exhibition

If the subject of the representation of the sea in impressionism can seem banal, it was however only partially mentioned, especially from the angle of seaside leisure with beach scenes, maritime views, or portraits of summer visitors. However, there remain certain other themes to be addressed which allow the exhibition to give a different vision of the impressionist artists’ attraction to the open sea.

Wasn’t impressionism born at the water’s edge? Impression, soleil levant by Claude Monet (1872, Paris, musée Marmottan Monet), is first of all a marine which sacrifices to a genre already magnified by Gustave Courbet or Eugène Boudin before him. Pissarro, Manet, Gauguin and Jongkind represented the seaside with delicacy and originality.

This vision of the landscape has thus been well understood by researchers, who have often focused on the effects of the sun, but also on the originality of the points of view, the photographic framing or the lifestyle of summer visitors during the Impressionist era. Nevertheless, there remain subjects which are specific to maritime life at the time of the Impressionists and which have not been considered: life in ports, the maritime industry, transport at sea, but also storms or even the taste for elsewhere…

Beyond a generic and pleasant image of the Impressionists in Deauville or Cabourg, the subjet can be declined according to new thematic and chronological perspectives. The impressionist movement is not homogeneous and the treatment of the subject of the navy and the seaside differs according to temperaments, but also the specific concerns of each artist.

What do Monet and Renoir have in common? Likewise, Pissarro does not see Le Havre like Monet. The geographical scope is quite limited: the artists’ stays are focused between Normandy and the French Riviera. If a focus is proposed on the treatment of the navy in Normandy, the exhibition will also look at the subject of impressionism in Brittany, with the works of Maxime Maufra and Henry Moret, both strongly influenced by Monet.

In the Impressionism and the sea exhibition, famous masterpieces such as La Vague by Courbet (1870, Orléans, Musée des Beaux-Arts) or L’Évasion de Rochefort by Manet (1881, Paris, Musée d’Orsay), are in dialogue with little-known works, thus creating a fruitful exchange between paintings, drawings and prints.

Curator: Cyrille Sciama, Director General of the musée des impressionnismes Giverny, Chief Curator.

With the exceptional support of the Musée d’Orsay.

150 years of Impressionism with the Musée d’Orsay. 1874-2024.

In 2024, the ministry of Culture and the musée d’Orsay celebrate 150 years of Impressionnism. The Paris 1874. Inventing Impressionism exhibition which is held in Paris, will take place simultaneously as some 180 exceptional works from the musée d’Orsay will be loaned to more than 30 museums in France.

The musée des impressionnismes Giverny will be generously loaned 16 masterpieces thanks to this national operation, including the painting by Édouard Manet, “L’Evasion de Rochefort” (around 1881), illustrated above.

This exhibition is part of the program of Normandie Impressionniste 2024 festival, held from March 22 to September 22, 2024. Further information: www.normandie-impressionniste.fr.

Practical information

Opening days:

The exhibition will be open from March, 29 to June, 30, 2024.

Full price | Concession price

  • Adults: €12 | €9
  • Audioguide : €4/person (FR or EN)

Free entry for:

  • Visitors under 18.
  • All individual visitors on the first Sunday of the months of April, May and June.

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In images

  • Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)
  • La Vague, vers 1870.
  • Huile sur toile, 54 x 73 cm
    Orléans, musée des Beaux-Arts, 314

  • Édouard Manet
  • L’Évasion de Rochefort, vers 1881.
  • Huile sur toile, 79 x 72 cm
    Paris, musée d’Orsay

  • Camille PISSARRO (1830-1903)
  • L’Anse des pilotes. Le Havre, matin, soleil, marée montante, dit aussi “Le Quai de Southampton au Havre”, 1903.
  • Huile sur toile, 54,5 x 65 cm
    Le Havre, musée d’art moderne André Malraux, A 495

  • Paul Gauguin
  • Sur la plage de Bretagne, 1889.
  • Oslo, Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst, Arkitektur og Design, NG.M.01007

  • Claude Monet (1840-1926)
  • Marée basse aux Petites-Dalles, 1884.
  • Hasso Plattner Collection, MB-Mon-16

  • Claude MONET (1840-1926)
  • La Pointe du Petit Ailly, 1897.
  • Huile sur toile, 73,5 x 92,7 cm
    Collection Nahmad, CM55165


Our patrons and partners

The museum warmly thanks the patrons and partners of this exhibition.


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The museum invites you to discover the multiple facets of impressionism.