The distinctive forms of the Cliffs of Etretat in Normandy have fascinated many artists, from Boudin to Monet. Gustave Courbet dedicated a series of canvases to them, which exemplify the great Realist master’s approach to landscape painting. The tangible solidity of the rocks, sand and water, described in detail without giving in to the atmospheric effects that would be embraced by the Impressionists, excludes from view everything that is ephemeral and transient, portraying the landscape in all its physicality. Courbet’s approach to the landscape is inspired by the masters who preceded him. His syntax is composed and firm, contained within an extraordinary play of lines, generating a perfectly balanced composition that harmoniously juxtaposes the monumentality of the cliffs with the atmospheric back ground of the sky.