Painted in the same year as Pissarro's pointillist canvas, this impressionist seascape by Claude Monet is conservative in comparison. Nevertheless, in the context of Monet's oeuvre at the time it represents an adventurous advance. This is no conventional example of marine painting. The horizon, a feature generally used by seascapists to stabilise their compositions, is completely occluded by the rocks and cliff faces of Belle-Île. These outcrops range with claustrophobic effect across the upper register of the work, appearing as well in the form of cramped promontories on either side of the foreground. The ragged patch of sea thus formed, filled by the painter with countless flecks of paint to indicate waves, is the real subject of the picture. Japanese woodblock prints, commonly available in Paris at the time, provided impressionist and later painters with radical solutions to the problem of representing three-dimensional forms on a flat surface. Few seized these solutions with the alacrity of Monet, or adapted them with such distinction.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999