Of course in a big harbor city like Le Havre one expects to see docks. Docks in itself were nothing new. Where there are ships there is need for a place to store all the goods ships bring in, but something did change in Boudin’s time. Before the harbor was this idealised place of travel but now it was a place that was filled with activities and smells. The harbors had become busier and thus provided more income, but with it came transporter bridges, steam cranes and many more warehouses than before. Most docks and warehouses are build in the 19th century. The period 1850 till the first world war was a golden age for Le Havre despite the Franco-Preussian war in 1870 On the eve of world war I was Le Havre one of the biggest ports of Europe. Boudin is one of those painters that noticed and painted these docks from the 1860’s to the 1890’s.
The Vauban Bassin was build in the early 1840’s. Boudin painted the Vauban Bassin in 1865:
Nowadays the Vauban bassin changed into a shopping centre Docks Vauban and a large swimming pool complex Les Bains des Docks (The bath by the Docks). It was designed by award-winning architect Jean Nouvel. The Swedes reading my blog might recognise the name because he is involved in the masterplan meeting lines for Slussen in Stockholm that he and Mia Hägg proposed to build. The idea is to connect the two biggest islands in Stockholm and in that way opening up the city. For more info about his plans for Stockholm: http://www.designboom.com/architecture/jean-nouvel-mia-hag-meeting-lines-slussen-masterplan/
The same thing that brought wealth to the city also caused problems: the downside of the harbor was that Le Havre had very high numbers of people with diseases like typhus and cholera. The reasons we’re the slumps where too many people lived close together under unhygienic circumstances. In the 19th century they still didn’t know the exact cause of all those diseases but they had realised some things about preventing diseases. They had learned about bacterias, vaccination, quarantines and that there seemed to be some corelation between hygiene and diseases and even though they weren’iperfect there were definitely people trying to make the better in Le Havre. One company that offered trips to people that wishevelled to emigrate to America from Le Havre offered remarkable modern services to the travelers to ensure that the risks of catching a disease would be minimized: In general, immigrants were expected to reach their port of departure at least one day prior to the departure date. Before embarking, it was common practice for immigrants to undergo an exhaustive medical examination carried out by American doctors or steamship company employees. In some cases, the immigrants were subjected to disinfectant baths and fumigation of their baggage. Some companies employed more stingent processing procedures. For example, La Compagnie Generate Transatlantique, as part of their package, transported immigrants by train from their homes to the company village at the port of Le Havre. Once there, they were examined by company doctors, given an antiseptic bath, short haircut, vaccinated, and quarantined for several days prior to departure. Their luggage was fumigated with steam, destructive process, prior to boarding. It appears these intensive screening processes were the result of American immigration policies and company liability, as steamship companies were fined as much as $100 (after 1905) for each passenger rejected by U.S. Immigration.
In 1869 he painted the Quarantine Bassin:
In the 1870’s he painted the Bassin de Voilliers (The Boat Docks):
He painted the Bassin du Commerce in the 1880’s and 1890’s. De Bassin du commerce was build already in the 1820’s
He painted the Bassin du Commerce again in 1892 and 1894: if you watch closely you will see the same boats again and again :). It’s clear to see that Monet got influenced by Boudin. Boudin has the same tic that he paints the exact same place with the same motif but with different colors and sky. It really is no wonder that Camille Corot called him king of skies especially his dawn and dusk paintings are beautiful.
In 1892 he also painted the Casimir Delavigne Basin:
These docks aren’t even all the docks in Le Havre that Boudin painted, but I will write more about that some other time :).
Bonsoir, mon amis!