Completed British 19th C, except portraits, Continental European after 1800, Maritime Subjects 13 Is this 'Coastal Scene' in Étretat?

Topic: Subject or sitter

This can really only be the Channel cliffs near Étretat, though the other images on Your Paintings are limited.

For example:

The collection will accept this if definite identification of the location is reached. Might someone with specific knowledge of the Étretat area provide evidence, or produce other artistic images with more specific titling to confirm a usual description of the location?

Pieter van der Merwe, Maritime Subjects, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade Audrey King,

The title of this work has been changed to 'Chalk Cliffs (probably in Normandy)'.

This amend will appear on the new version of the Your Paintings website in January 2016. Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


Guillaume Evrard,

Is any archival research at the Bowes (letters, diaries...) inconclusive?

I'm not sure about Quiberville (east of Etretat) -the cliffs look less dramatic - but certainly between Quiberville and probably Cap d' Antifer (which might be the far headland) just west of Etretat. It's a bit tricky to be precise, but 'falaises d'Etretat' on Google produces many images that show the coastal cliffs there, though all from above, not the beach. There is also a useful page of maps and diagrams here:'etretat&hl=en-GB&biw=1366&bih=643&site=webhp&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=aZJvVeXfJ4myUZiigOAF&sqi=2&ved=0CCAQsAQ#tbm=isch&tbs=rimg:CZl6a-BIcN1iIjg4PPMURSE3Vvre37L-K-CjuBmKAr4ug6LhSW549fMRVBSrSCxHqJuebJbwumOmXqCnBcJjF0PFoyoSCTg88xRFITdWEd3Xom-58R3AKhIJ-t7fsv4r4KMR9EqA_18rjjhMqEgm4GYoCvi6DohEauONAH2XvpioSCeFJbnj18xFUEblV8iYXRzsnKhIJFKtILEeom54RFIhlLt_1XHe4qEglslvC6Y6ZeoBEyu17t5au4KSoSCacFwmMXQ8WjEcEsA6P_1n3oD&q=falaises d'etretat&hl=en-GB

If it cannot be pinned to a particular stretch, 'Chalk cliffs near Etretat' would at least be an advance on 'Coastal scene'. Annoyingly it doesn't include the famed rock arches, pinnacles and short projecting features like the Pointe de la Courtine to help.

Patty Macsisak,

Given how many people paint the same scene, it's refreshing to see another view. Yes, I did wonder about the cliffs...the cliffs at Dieppe were the most craggy, but the background wasn't right.

These are two photos that I took of the cliffs at Etretat from the Manneporte, looking farther up the coastline, away from the village. The view in the painting is of a similar area (but painted from the beach) since it does not include the Porte d'Aval or the Manneporte itself.

2 attachments

Thanks for those two: I wondered about that stretch (Crique and Pointe de la Courtine, looking south-west) but couldn't reconcile it, but they makes the point about the characteristic local geology and general appearance.

That looks more hopeful.The distant headland shown in the last image on the first line of the page attached below for Varangeville (just west of Dieppe, but east of Etretat and Quiberville) looks a good match for the one on the oil (The point in question may be at St Marguerite sur Mer, just to the west, but I can't see a specific name for it.) . The cliffs are less easy to match: however, the painter is right under them and the canvas suggests the jagged projecting features are not in fact at the top but below the highest point shown above, if one make some allowance for artistic effect and that there may well have been losses from rock falls since the work was painted. The beach below is also clearly accessible on foot along the shore, which looked much less certain for some points at Etretat including Crique de la Courtine.

Would the Bowes like to call a halt with something like 'Chalk cliffs west of Dieppe, Normandy' as some advance, noting Varangeville/ St Marguerite as the closest we can currently suggest? Otherwise this could go on indefinitely. There's only so much one can do without going to look from the same viewpoint as the artist took.

Patty Macsisak,

Before we close, please take a look at these short videos:

Access to the beach/cliffs in Varengeville is via Gorge des Moutiers (east side of the town, in the direction of Dieppe). Both of the following videos were shot near the gorge where is beach is very different than the painting in question (e.g., large black rocks). Also, when the artist looks in the easterly direction, he does not see the land mass in the distance.

I think the painting is of Vasterival beach (just west of Varengeville, in the direction of St. Marguerite-sur-mer). The first photo below is between Varengeville and Vasterival; the second photo of Vasterival beach looks remarkably similar to the painting.

Could we please get the Bowes to respond and resolve a better title on the lines already suggested? There is no reasonable doubt that these cliffs are on the Normandy coast in northern France, even if we can't at present be exactly sure where (though Varangeville/ St Marguerite west of Dieppe rather than Etretat seems more likely). Either 'Chalk cliffs , Normandy' or 'Chalk cliffs on the Normandy coast' would be better than the pointlessly obvious 'Coastal scene', and the latter has the advantage of better web-searchabilty.

Jade Audrey King,

The collection have emailed the PCF directly to indicate they would like the title to be changed to:

‘Chalk Cliffs (probably in Normandy)'