- Alfred Sisley
SAINT-MAMMÈS LE MATIN
- signed Sisley and dated 85 (lower right)
- oil on canvas
- 47.5 by 56.5cm.
- 18 3/4 by 22 1/4 in.
Michigan, Muskegon Museum of Art (on loan 1991-2007)
Painted in 1885, the present composition depicts the landscape around Saint-Mammès, a small village situated at the confluence of the rivers Seine and Loing, just north of Moret-sur-Loing. Sisley first moved with his family to Veneux-Nadon near Moret-sur-Loing in 1880, and continued to live in that area for the rest of his life, moving several times between the two villages. The local scenery offered a constant source of inspiration to the artist, who tried to capture the relationship between land, water and sky as well as the changing effects of light on his surroundings. Having painted numerous views of the bridge, river bank and quayside of Saint-Mammès in 1880-81, Sisley focused his attention on Le Loing and its canal, which joined the Seine at Saint-Mammès, and between 1882 and 1885 executed a series of works depicting this area.
In the present painting, Sisley focused his attention on the path by the river bank, lined with trees and houses on one side, and the river on the other. He depicted this scene during the early morning, with elongated shadows along the path, and the bright morning sun shimmering in the foliage of the trees and the grass. Although Sisley never lived in the village of Saint-Mammès, he was certainly attracted to this region, and to the painterly possibilities it offered him. As the critic Gustave Geffroy wrote in 1923: 'He sought to express the harmonies that prevail, in all weathers and at every time of day, between foliage, water and sky, and he succeeded [...] He loved river banks; the fringes of woodland; towns and villages glimpsed through the old trees; old buildings swamped in greenery; winter morning sunlight; summer afternoons' (G. Geffroy, 'Sisley', in Les Cahiers d'Aujourd'hui, Paris, 1923).