The Realist painter Gustave Courbet did not discover the sea as a pictorial motif until quite late in his career, though he then created around a hundred seascapes, which he referred to as paysages de mer (“landscapes of the sea”). Alone 50 of these works were done in the summer of 1869 in Etretat, on the coast of Normandy, as well as in the following winter in his studio in Paris. In these works, he has banned from his compositions the otherwise so typical fishing boats, frigates, and summer vacationers, concentrating wholly on rendering the power of the sea. He virtually chiseled these onto the canvas with his brush and palette knife. It is precisely this monumental simplicity that underlies the boldness of The Wave.