Seurat painted his first coastal scenes and seascapes at Grandcamp in Normandy which he visited in the summer of 1885. The rocky peak of Le Bec du Hoc lay to the east. It was a spectacular geological feature which was greatly reduced by bombardment during the Second World War.
Seurat made an oil sketch on the spot (Canberra, Australian National Gallery), which served as a study for this painting. In 1888, prior to exhibiting the painting for the fourth time, the artist reworked its surface with fine touches of paint, and also added the painted border, modulating the colours in relation to the painting itself.
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