The French artist Eugène Boudin is known for his charming depictions of harbour and seaside scenes. In addition to many canvases, he left behind numerous drawings. In the latter he captured situations he had seen. He then often relied on such sketches for his oil paintings. In the summer of 1882 Boudin visited the fishing village of Berck-sur-Mer in northern France. Our study was likely created right on the beach there. We can imagine the artist drawing this fleeting moment in his sketch pad.
We see four fisherwomen who wear blue skirts and large white bonnets. They form a semi-circle around a young girl. One of the women is just now bending down to the child, as if to take something from her hands. The woman on the far right is squatting on her haunches — we only notice her at second glance. Further back, two men in dark fishermen's clothes are busy with their boat.
Boudin used chalk and watercolours for this drawing and partially sketched out the outlines with pencil. Look, for instance, at the upper body of the woman on the far left: there the pencil lines are clearly visible. The woman reaching towards the child, in turn, consists only of the preliminary drawing and a few colour strokes — and yet we get a fairly clear picture of the situation. The delicate watercolour and rough chalk convey a multifaceted and vivid impression.
Boudin frequently adds a red accent to his images, but not here: given the limited palette of blues, greys and browns, the drawing is quite reserved in terms of colour.