Étretat in the Rain
- Artist: Claude Monet
- Creation date: 1886
- Object type: Painting
Étretat in Normandy was one of Claude Monet’s favourite places to paint in the 1880s. Both in storm and peaceful weather, in sunshine and rain, he would paint the sea, the beach, and the precipitous cliffs surrounding the idyllic town. He was particularly fascinated by a massive natural arch, the Porte d’Aval, that the sea had eroded from the soft limestone cliff and that could be seen southwest of Étretat. Monet created more than sixty pictures of this arch, which had also been painted by the highly acclaimed French painter Gustave Courbet. In the atmospheric, hazy Rain, Étretat, Monet has positioned himself so that the spiky cliff formation l’Aiguille (the Needle) in the background seems to partially merge with the Porte d’Aval. Though this innovative, emblematically impressionistic painting is perhaps not one of the artist’s most famous works, it nonetheless warrants its status as a highlight by virtue of its history, in that it was the very first picture by Monet to be acquired by a public art collection.
While staying in Paris, the Norwegian artist Erik Werenskiold managed to coax the art dealer Theo van Gogh, the brother of Vincent van Gogh, to send a few French paintings to the Autumn Exhibition in Kristiania. This exhibition was originally intended to be a venue for Norwegian artists, but the organizers gradually wanted to display a certain amount of foreign works, not least from French modernists. Van Gogh, who was employed at the firm of Boussod et Valadon, sent four paintings: two by Monet, one by Pissarro, and one by Degas, all of which were for sale. Upon Werenskiold’s wholehearted recommendation, the museum’s acquisition committee was persuaded to buy one of these paintings, namely catalogue number 88 at the exhibition: Étretat, temps de pluie.