MONET, Claude
(b. 1840, Paris, d. 1926, Giverny)

La Manneporte near Étretat

Oil on canvas, 81 x 65 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Étretat, a Norman fishing village popular among artists of Courbet's generation and, later, the Impressionists. Its great cliffs, rising so precipitously from the beach and from the waters provided a striking contrast to sand-bound or storm-tossed boats below, and with the ever-changing sea and sky.

One of the main features is a rock formation known as Porte d'Aval (or Aiouille), where a natural flying buttress appears to support an equally natural, crenellated tower. This sense of implicit architecture suggests a great city lost in primeval times. There are two other formations called Porte d'Amont, and the Manneporte.

The cliffs at Étretat inspired Monet, who was a frequent visitor to the Normandy coast from the 1860s onward.