Famous Beach Themed Artwork & How To Make Your Own
Nature has always been a source of inspiration for artists, but the beach is a particularly recurrent theme throughout art history. The French Impressionists of the 19th century were famous for taking their easel and paints outdoors to paint en plein air, but the artists that came after them continued to depict natural environments outside of their studio.
** FAMOUS BEACH ARTWORK THROUGH HISTORY **
Many would agree that a day at the beach is a day well spent, and these paintings show how people around the world have been drawn to the ocean for centuries. From the sunny beaches of France to the windy shores of England—and even the tropical sands of Tahiti—these famous artworks capture the colors, light, and atmosphere of playful, tranquil days at the beach. Discover the seaside-inspired paintings of Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, and more, below...
'Children Playing on the Beach', 1884
American woman Impressionist Mary Cassat is known for her depictions of familial love, notably mothers and children. In Children Playing on the Beach, the two young girls are deeply involved in their activity, making the painting highly reflective of the popularity of naturalism at the time. Aspects of the painting, such as the girls’ matching clothes and close positioning have suggested to critics that the work is a tribute to Cassatt’s beloved sister, Lydia, who died in 1882.
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'The Persistence of Memory', 1931
Dali’s 1931 Surrealist painting The Persistence of Memory likely references the influence of scientific advances that were occuring at the time. Described by the artist as being like Camembert melting in the sun, the watches depicted are thought to symbolize Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, concerning the distortion of time and space. The dreamlike beach scenery becomes a serene Surreal landscape, outside of the confines of time and space. Today the painting can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, where it has been exhibited since 1934.
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'Beach Scene Little Girl Having Her Hair Combed by her Nanny',1866-1877
Degas’ beach artwork depicts a tender moment in which a child has her hair brushed by her nanny. Unlike many of his Impressionist contemporaries, Degas preferred to paint in the studio rather than in situ en plein air. This is evidenced by the painting’s solid lines and elements of non realism. For example, smoke from the ships is seen billowing in opposing directions, something that would not happen in reality. Some have even considered the staged painting to be mocking the realism of Impressionist art.
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Caspar David Friedrich
'The Monk by the Sea', 1808-1810
The Monk by the Sea by Caspar David Friedrich is an iconic example of the Sublime. Sublime art is a theme of Romanticism that showcases the incredible, divine and terrifying power of nature. The artist creates this effect by contrasting the vast scale of the landscape with the monk’s tiny figure. This is further enhanced by the painting’s dark colors and shadows as well as the painting’s lack of dimension perspective: the beach landscape almost appears to consume the figure.
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Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, c. 1484–1486
Botticelli’s Renaissance era painting The Birth of Venus is not only an iconic piece of beach art, but also one of the most recognizable paintings in all of art history. As is typical of Renaissance paintings, this famous piece is not simply a beach landscape. In fact, the painting depicts the mythological story of the Roman goddess Venus, arising from the ocean after being born from a scallop shell. But how better to honor the goddess of love and beauty than with a stunning coastal landscape?
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'The Beach at Trouville', 1870
Monet’s The Beach at Trouville was painted on the artist’s honeymoon with his first wife Camille, and depicts her and a female companion. Although Monet’s earlier depictions of Normandy were of stormy skies and choppy seas, this painting represents Trouville as a tourist destination. In the artwork few details are represented, with the focus on lighting and shadows. Furthermore, the Impressionist’s strong brush strokes capture the coastal breeze, resulting in a painting that bristles with movement and dimension. The piece was painted en plein air, which is memorialized by specks of sand embedded in the paint.
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'Two Women Running on the Beach' ('The Race'), 1922
In Two Women Running on the Beach, Picasso returned to his earlier neoclassical art style. After the first World War, Picasso left Cubism with its origins in the violence of war to explore the order, rationalized structure and humanity of Neoclassicism. The painting depicts two women running joyfully and freely across a beach. The vivid blues of the sky and ocean, soft curving lines and free movement of their hair and clothes emanates joy and calm, while representing the new freedoms as a result of peace.
'Tahitian Women on the Beach', 1891
French artist Paul Gauguin is known for his paintings of the Polynesian island of Tahiti. The artist originally left for Tahiti to escape modern France and enjoy a simpler, more liberated . However, the reality he was confronted with was the sadness and suffering of colonial oppression, something that he captures in Tahitian Women on the Beach. The two subjects of the painting both refuse to engage with the painter or eachother, both appearing to be lost in thought with melancholy expressions.
** MAKE YOUR OWN BEACH ART **
Join us in the studio, all Summer long (and off and on throughout the whole year!) and create some beach-themed artwork of your own!
JULY 9, ‘Monochrome Beach'
A gorgeous grayscale beach with a pop of blue!
July 11, ‘Coastal Calm’
There is nothing quite like lounging at the beach as the sun sets. Create your own calm with this painting and spend a night at the beach. PAINT ON A BEACH BAG!
July 12, ‘Calming Tides’
Calm tides, a soothing ocean breeze with a beautiful sunset. Where else would you want to be?
July 14, ‘Summer’s Point’
Take a walk on the beach and feel your soul awaken.
July 20, ‘SoCal Sunset
A little piece of paradise in Southern California with colors to die for!
July 28, ‘Twilight Walk On The Beach’
Relax and enjoy the the sunset/moonrise as you walk along this beautiful beach.