Etretat on the Normandy coast features in my Painting of the Month for July. Monet painted this cliff eighteen times on various visits to the seaside resort. This one, the closest, was either painted in an illusionistic way or he braved a very rough sea in a dinghy to get this close.
Monet shows us his free long brushstrokes and dazzling understanding of light. You can almost feel the evening warmth in the sunlight under the arch.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is where you will need to go to view this Japanese inspired painting close up. On of the important influences on the impressionists were the arrival of Japanese woodcuts into Europe following the opening up to the west of that country. In this scene the dynamic embracing power of the waves, inspired by Japanese artists gives Monet his theme, possibly from Hiroshige’s The entrance to the cave at Enoshima Island in Sagami Province.
If you wish to see this iconic cliff arch then Etretat is worth the visit. The Parisians turned the little seaside town into a resort with the arrival of the railways in the nineteenth century. Your best route is Ferry to Dieppe and a short drive along the coast. Worth it for the views, the Normandy food and an area steeped in impressionist art.