In October 1870 Daubigny and his family went to London to seek refuge from the Franco-Prussian War; this scene of beached fishing boats is thought to be the first painting he signed and dated upon his return to France in June 1871. The subject is one he had helped to popularize in the prior decade, when vanguard artists including Courbet, Jongkind, Whistler, Corot, and the young Monet also worked on the Channel coast.
Daubigny contributed Boats on the Seacoast at Étaples to an auction held in New York in 1872 to raise money for victims of the Great Chicago Fire.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Daubigny 1871
the artist, Paris (until 1872; contributed to sale, Leavitt's, New York, May 16–18, no. 42); Mrs. Mary J. Morgan, New York (until d. 1885; her estate sale, American Art Association, New York, March 3–5, 1886, no. 39, for $1,325); J. W. Williams; Mrs. S. D. Warren, Boston (until 1903; sale, American Art Association, New York, Jan 8–9, no. 77, to Avery for MMA)
Newark Museum. "19th-Century French and American Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 9–May 15, 1946, no. 11 (as "Boats on Shore").
Nashville. Fisk University. "100 Years of European Painting," April 28–June 10, 1965, unnum. checklist.
Phoenix Art Museum. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art Loan Collection: 'The River and the Sea'," February 15, 1967–February 15, 1968, no. 5 (as "Boats on the Shore").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Barbizon: French Landscapes of the Nineteenth Century," February 4–May 10, 1992, no catalogue.
"The Morgan Collection of Paintings." Art Amateur 13 (October 1885), p. 89.
"The Fine Arts: Sale of the Morgan Paintings." Critic (March 13, 1886), p. 133.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 98–99, ill., note that Daubigny spent the month of June 1871 in Étaples and conclude that this picture was painted there based on a related drawing inscribed "Étaples, boats at low tide" (Daubigny's atelier sale, Paris, May 6–8, 1878, no. 557).
Madeleine Fidell-Beaufort and Janine Bailly-Herzberg. Daubigny. Paris, 1975, pp. 176-77, no. 118, ill.
Robert Hellebranth. Charles-François Daubigny, 1817–1878. Morges, Switzerland, 1976, p. 230, no. 699, ill., as "Bateaux échoués à Etaples"; erroneusly lists it in the Ferry sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 1921, no. 55.
Anne Wagner. Memo. September 25, 1979, disagrees with Sterling and Salinger [Ref. 1966] that the site of this picture is confirmed by a related drawing, noting that the drawing is not inscribed and is dated 1876, five years after the painting; asserts that the identification of Étaples rests on the fact that Daubigny was there in June 1871 on his way home from London, where he was in exile during the Commune.