In 1869, Degas made a series of pastel drawings near Houlgate, a small seaside resort town in Normandy. Though extremely spare in conception, many of the drawings include detail sufficient to determine the precise locations where Degas worked. In this regard, Beside the Sea is particularly challenging for it is apparently devoid of specifically identifiable landmarks. Instead of trees, rocks, and the other usual vocabulary of landscape, Degas offers a scattering of barely indicated beach walkers to suggest scale and perspective. Nearly reduced to a series of horizontal striations, the radical simplicity of the drawing anticipates the tonal compositions of artists such as Whistler, Buhot, and Pennell, some of whose work may he seen in the adjacent gallery.