Biarritz, the other coast

Biarritz, the other coast

  • Beach scene, Biarritz.

    LEMOINE Henri (1848 - 1924)

  • Beach scene, Biarritz.

    LEMOINE Henri (1848 - 1924)

To close

Title: Beach scene, Biarritz.

Author : LEMOINE Henri (1848 - 1924)

Creation date : 1890

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 8 - Width 10.8

Technique and other indications: Gelatin aristotype print

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Picture reference: 00-009630 / PHO1987-20-20

Beach scene, Biarritz.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

To close

Title: Beach scene, Biarritz.

Author : LEMOINE Henri (1848 - 1924)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 54 - Width 10.5

Technique and other indications: Gelatin aristotype print

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Picture reference: 00-009628 / Pho1987-20-19

Beach scene, Biarritz.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Publication date: January 2012

Historical context

A spa and seaside resort

For nearly fifty years (from the 1870s to the 1920s) the photographer Henri Lemoine (1848-1924) took many pictures of the most famous contemporary workplaces (Halles de Paris) and leisure (guinguettes, racetracks) . Made at the beginning of the XXe century, both Beach scene (s) here studied have for theme Biarritz, which then became a recognized tourist destination and quite frequented.

It is indeed since the Second Empire that the site has gone from being a small fishing village to that of a spa and seaside resort renowned throughout Europe. With the general development of tourism in France in the XIXe century, the arrival of the train (first in Bayonne, then in Biarritz even at the end of the 1880s) as well as the emerging vogue for the pleasures of the page, sea bathing and spa treatments contribute to the city sees its permanent population and especially seasonal increase considerably at the turn of the XXe century.

Thus, the two images offer a look that is both naturalistic and documentary on tourism in Biarritz, thus educating us both on the practices and on the representations associated with it.

Image Analysis

Beach scenes

If both Beach scene were not necessarily taken at the same time (difference in brightness), they both represent a view of the Grande Plage at bath time.

On the first, Lemoine favors a fairly wide angle of view, which reveals a large part of the bay. By drawing a sort of arm of the sea (background in the center and on the left), the rocky massif of the cliffs (background on the right) marks the end of the large sandy expanse which constitutes the beach. The perspective describes an arc of a circle and shows different groups (mainly made up of women and children) coming to enjoy the site on this sunny day. Sitting on chairs, most women protect themselves from the sun with thick black parasols. Visible in the foreground, the fairly studied town (and not bathing) costumes of the various characters reflect the fashion of the time.

On the second, the photographer chose to focus on a scene more restricted, which shows us one of the previously mentioned groups more closely. He also shows us a proper bathing scene, since in the background we see a few heads protruding from the waves.

Interpretation

The pleasures of Biarritz

The first photograph reveals the exceptional assets of the Grande Plage site. It is understandable that the long strip of sand open to the ocean has become one of the tourist attractions of the region, attracting more and more populations over the years (the overview shows that it is indeed quite busy). If the waves are large enough, making offshore swimming dangerous (the bathers in the second shot stay close to the edge), the beach's assets seem very real.

The distinction between female costumes indicates a certain level of ease of boaters, recalling that Biarritz is a traditionally mundane destination reserved for the richest. However, the second shot puts this impression into perspective: at the beginning of the XXe century, the Grande Plage is also occupied by more modest people, proof that tourism and the destination are gradually democratizing.

The images of Henri Lemoine not having an advertising or commercial vocation, the presentation of these Beach scenes wants to be objective and documentary. However, it conveys a peaceful and tempting representation of these simple and family pleasures but nevertheless marked with a certain elegance.

  • Hobbies
  • sea
  • Pays Basque
  • beach

Bibliography

CAZES Georges, Tourism in France, Paris, Que sais-je?, PUF, 1995 CORBIN Alain, The advent of leisure (1850-1960), Paris, Flammarion, coll. "Champs", 2001. GOUJON Jacques, One hundred years of tourism in France, Paris, éditions du Recherches-Midi, 1990. LABORDE Pierre, Biarritz, eight centuries of history, 200 years of seaside life, Biarritz, Imprimerie Ferrus - 1984

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Biarritz, the other coast"


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