The distinguishable sails of the ships of the Brittany Coast of France mark the positions of several returning fishing boats in this island scene by the highly regarded Impressionist Maxime Maufra. The pristine and ""Wild Coast" island is home to the Port of Le Palais, and the villages of Sauzon, Bangor, and Locmaria at the island's extreme points. Many artists of Pont Aven art colonies explored Belle "the beautiful" Island, and it became widely known as the retreat of the famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who first discovered it in 1894 in the company of artist Georges Clairin.
Maufra's view position on the island is from the mouth of the sheltered harbor past Pointe des Poulains Lighthouse, the northernmost point of the largest island of Brittany. Bernhardt's legendary summerhouse was here, until destroyed in World War II. Most of the red and ochre sail fishing vessels of the island base out of Sauzon, where the tidal fall would receded to sandy anchorages for 12 hours at a stretch.
It is a strongly beautiful scene in Maufra's presentation, with bold colors and heavy drama of action and movement. The rocky cliffs and elevations of Belle Isle inspired works by other artists, including Claude Monet, who called the area "incomparably beautiful". It is easy to understand why the British and French governments contested to control the island for years, and it is home to the largest opera festival in Western France, one of the most exclusive golf courses in the world, and ongoing conservation efforts to keep the land in its natural splendor.
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