This painting is attributed to Gustave Courbet, and although listed as a collaboration in Jean Fernier’s forthcoming catalogue raissoné supplement of the artist’s work, it is our opinion that this painting is pure Courbet with possibly some assistance by Louis Augustin Augin who was, at the time it was painted, a student of Courbet in the region of Saintonge. The masterful technique used to portray the sky, sea and sand as well as the coloration in the rocks strongly suggests Courbet’s touch.
In a simple composition (also a Courbet trait) believed to be the coastline near the village of Royan, Courbet would have quite possibly been offering an example to his student and helper of how to capture the beautiful austerity of nature. Courbet’s brilliant use of thick layers of paint applied with a palette knife is another of the traits quite evident in this work.
The quality of this painting is in keeping with other examples by this important Barbizon artist. The wonderful balance of the dramatically colored sea beneath the soft clouds is bisected by the tall rocks that divide the view. It shows Courbet painting “things as they really are” the guiding principal in his work that marked his greatness.
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