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We tend to associate the Normandy coastline – Etretat, Pourville, Varengeville, Fécamp – with Monet and the impressionists; but (as with Cézanne and Mont Sainte-Victoire) previous generations of painters had preceded them.
Boudin, who later taught Monet the principles, and the necessity, of pleinairisme, painted in Dieppe, as did Corot and Daubigny; while Delacroix came here in 18.
” Now that the Channel tunnel has restored most traffic to the more northerly crossing, and the ferry service from Newhaven runs at unfriendly hours, Dieppe has sunk back into being largely French again.
Serious war damage makes it harder to recreate in the mind the century – from 1815 to 1914 – during which the town became so fashionable.
Gradually, the journey from London became quicker – a combination of the London to Brighton railway and the new steam-packets brought the time down to a mere 11 hours by the 1840s.
For centuries Dieppe’s main relationship with Britain had consisted of suffering occasional bombardment from the Royal Navy; now there were not just summer tourists, but year-round residents.
Hazlitt, passing through in 1824, noted that such headdresses were “much the same as those which the Spectator laughed out of countenance a hundred years ago in England”; and he concluded more generally that “In France one lives in the imagination of the past”.
There was even a quartier des Anglais (on the hill between the Paris road and the chateau), served by an Anglican chaplain and a British consul.
And since the French more or less simultaneously decided to make Dieppe a sophisticated destination, the town flourished.
The night boat of May 20 1897 brought Oscar Wilde, freshly sprung from Reading jail and carrying the manuscript of .
It is a small but interesting footnote to the history of the Dieppe ferry terminal that the two most noteworthy events there both involved pseudonyms.