Lot 131
  • 131

Alfred Sisley

Estimate
350,000 - 450,000 USD
Sold
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Description

  • Alfred Sisley
  • LA SEINE PRÈS DE BY
  • Signed Sisley (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 15 by 18 1/8 in.
  • 38 by 46 cm

Provenance

Private Collection, New York

Exhibited

Atlanta, High Museum, Feast of Color: Paintings from the Noro Foundation, 2004 (catalogue by H. Verbeek), no. 22, pp. 54-55, illustrated in color

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, Een park met twee gezichten: Van Goghs parkgezicht en andere werken uit de Noro Foundation, 2005 (catalogue by A. Vergeest & H. Verbeek), p. 51, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

In 1880, Alfred Sisley and his family relocated from the outskirts of bustling Paris to the rural Veneux-Nadon, an area in the French region of Moret.  It was there that Sisley unearthed a new source of inspiration—the picturesque Saint-Mammès River, located at the confluence of the Loing and Seine Rivers.   Sisley became fascinated with the panoramic views that his new surroundings had to offer him.  As Sylvie Patin explains, “It was in the Saint-Mammès river scene of 1881 that Sisley began to analyze the various sections of landscape through application of different types of brush strokes”  (Patin, (exhibition catalogue) "Veneux-Nadon and Moret-Sur-Loing: 1880- 1899,” Alfred Sisley, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1992, p. 183-185). 

Throughout the 1880s, Sisley adapted his palette choice, brush stroke technique and subject matter, discovering that the use of color and varied paint application could evoke a certain mood or atmosphere. He was fascinated with light, focusing on the way light could play--shimmering, or creating shadows and reflections.

In La Seine près de By, the River Seine plays a central role within in the composition by  meandering through the foreground and dividing the landscape into two distinct river banks.  In the middle ground, Sisley captures the distant river with subtle and soft strokes of gray and blue.  As the current descends towards the lower right of the foreground, the brushwork and color become more pronounced and richer in tone, creating a sense of depth and movement.  To the right, a group of trees delineate a river bank painted in hurried strokes.   The trees on the extreme left are painted with layered strokes, enhancing the feeling of dense vegetation.  Sisley juxtaposes his energetic and frenzied strokes in the foreground with broad brush strokes in the sky.  The expansive sky is composed of soft wide strokes of light hues of gray and blue. 

In essence, La Seine près de By captures Alfred Sisley’s spirit and skill at the easel during a pivotal point in his lifetime and career.  Sisley has established the ephemeral and atmospheric qualities of the river scene by capturing the unity and balance of light and tone of nature.  “Harmony, delicacy, refinement, subtlety; such were the qualities that defined Sisley’s artistic individuality” (op.cit., Patin, p. 183).

Fig. 1  Alfred Sisley, 1882

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