To the right of the painting, the cliff which borders the Pourville Beach is painted in light yellow with divided strokes of color to indicate reflections in the water. In contrast, large horizontal strokes accented in dark blue depict the movement of the waves.
This is one of several views Monet painted of the cliffs and sand flats of Pourville, a small fishing village on the Normandy coast of France. The title indicates a momentary stage in the continuous cycle of nature, just as the quick, spontaneous application of paint reflects Monet's efforts to capture shifting effects of light, weather, and tide. The paint layers under the beach indicate that this part of the composition originally depicted water, as would have been appropriate for a depiction of high rather than low tide. Similar changes were made in the clouds during the painting process.
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