In 1860, Eugène Boudin (1824–1898) found success with his beach scenes, which were highly appreciated by the Parisian bourgeoisie and tourists to the Normandy coastal resorts. As he prepared large paintings for the Salon, the artist made numerous drawn studies heightened with watercolour and sometimes annotated. But Boudin also knew he could easily appeal to a public fond of such scenes and created watercolours as works in their own right.
This watercolour sketch, captured first hand, evokes the Normandy seashore society. It depicts nannies or governesses in red and black uniforms, watching over the children in their care, little girls sitting playing in the sand. In an effort to capture the extreme mobility of his subject, Boudin began by sketching the scene with a few quick strokes of black pencil and graphite, followed by a very fluid application of watercolour. The tightly constructed composition, with the vertical lines of the cabins and standing figures responding to the horizontal lines of the beach and sea, makes for a well-crafted work of art.