The Calm Sea, 1869
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877)
Oil on canvas; 23 1/2 x 28 3/4 in. (59.7 x 73 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.566)
Courbet's first encounter with the Mediterranean, in 1854, resulted in a group of seascapes. He returned to the genre during a prolific three-month period in Trouville in 1865. There, in the company of James McNeill Whistler and Claude Monet, he executed, by his own count, thirty-eight canvases, including twenty-five seascapes. Returning to Étretat along the coast of Normandy in August 1869, he painted this view of the Channel coast at low tide. The composition, in which an immense sky reduces the landscape to narrow bands of sea and shore, is one that Courbet favored for his seascapes.