Moonlight Harbor at Boulogne Edouard Manet Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This is Édouard Manet's 1869 painting depicting Boulogne coast line with sail boats, smaller fishing vessels in the background.

It measures 101 by 82 cm, the style is realism, and genre is cityscape. Manet is a key figure in the transition from realism to impressionism. This painting is among those done in the twilight and the night, Manet was trying to show case his skill, often with a jeering crowd. The 'Moonlight, Harbor at Boulogne' depicts night life. He always went to the harbour to paint as crowds of people gathered around him cheering him on. His inspiration came from the harbours heavy activity during the day, he depicted this in his painting but would always tone down or calm it by painting the moonlight to portray its stillness or peacefulness.

There are also a lot of people in painting portraying the busy nature of the human activities within the coast. In this night time scene, one of the few he ever did, he attempts to display the night totally in varying tones of only one colour. The black shades of blue and brown, transiting from warmer tones into colder. Cast against the dock, the hulls of none operational boats and the water beyond. The women seem like they were waiting for their men to come back from fishing with the sky dotted with shining stars.

The Moonlight, Harbor at Boulogne, painting is based on oil on canvas medium of art. This is one of the paintings depicting boats-and-ships, twilight-and-night. Oils paints used in this work of art were thinned at different percentages to produce different textures and effects. The colours used are mostly black, brown and blue shades. There is no use of multiple colours as the painting is night based. The painting is not simplified, moreover in this painting restricted to a palette, and means of spending created a real atmosphere. There are many Manets painting depicting the coastal town of Boulogne, he enjoyed trying to depict different sceneries at Boulogne. After his art controversies in Paris due to his earlier paintings, he enjoyed the company of crowds jeering him on.

He was particularly inspired by evening and night paintings, portraying the human activity, moon the silence and stillness it brought to those who viewed it. Related works include ‘Jetty at Boulogne, 1868’, ‘Beach at Boulogne, 1869’ and ‘The Jetty at Boulogne, 1869’. Other related works from other artists featuring the coast, boats, human activity or night depiction include ‘Fishing boats at Honfleur’, Claude Monet 1868, ‘Fishing Boats Leaving the Harbor, Le Havre’ Claude Monet 1874, and ‘The seine in Paris’, Paul Gauguin 1875.