Boots on the Beach at Etretat, 1883 by Claude Monet

In January of 1883 Monet visited the small town of Etretat, where he had lived with Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro in 1868. Originally a fishing village, the town had become a fashionable holiday resort and a favourite destination for artists. The soaring cliffs at Etretat are famous for their giddying heights and for three natural rock arches that extend into the sea. The beach too forms a sweeping curve, and with its wide, yellow sands and backdrop of cliffs is amongst the most beautiful of the region,

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), and Gustave Courbet (1819-77) had oil painted at Etretat, and Monet followed in their footsteps. He was particularly taken by Courbet's painting The Cliff at Etretot after a Storm (1869), and there is some similarity between Courbet's and Monet's treatment of the boats,

Monet's trip to Etretat in 1883 was cut short due to appalling weather, and he was unable to complete the large oil paintings that he had planned to undertake there and exhibit on his return.