Boulogne sur Mer, France
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Boulogne has attracted artists since the early 19th century, and the town's shrimpers proved a popular subject for many artists who traveled there. The enormous hoop nets they used, shown clearly in this watercolour, were dragged along the bottom to catch the shrimps and then put into the heavy baskets which they carried around their shoulders. Smythe successfully captures the ruddy complexions and protective clothing of the women who are portrayed wading knee deep in water. The critic of The Studio in 1910 associated Smythe's work with the realistic representation of 'His fisher-folk are healthy, open-air workers, natural and without self-consciousness, not sea-nymphs posing with an eye to picturesque effect... They all come into his artistic scheme just as they are, and they please him because they have much of nature's unaffectedness and joy of life.' The Studio Magazine 1910.