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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Alfred Sisley
1839 - 1899
SAINT-MAMMÈS
signed Sisley (lower left)
oil on canvas
32.5 by 40.6cm., 12 7/8 by 16in.
Painted circa 1885.
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This work will be included in the new edition of the Catalogue raisonné of Alfred Sisley by François Daulte now being prepared at Galerie Brame & Lorenceau by the Comité Alfred Sisley.

Provenance

M. Humbert, Paris (sale: Me Lair-Dubreuil, Paris, 3rd December 1910, lot 53)
Galerie Jacques Dubourg, Paris
Max Kaganovitch, Paris (acquired from the above circa 1949)
Fritz Loeb, Zurich (acquired from the above circa 1965)
Private Collection, Switzerland (by descent from the above; sale: Sotheby's, New York, 8th November 2006, lot 179)
Acquired by the present owner in 2007

Catalogue Note

At the end of the 1870s, Alfred Sisley moved to a small village near Moret-sur-Loing, 75 kilometers southwest of Paris. The relocation was significant; whereas for much of the preceding decade he had been based in the western Parisian suburbs, by moving to Moret, two hours from the capital by train, he was renewing his ties with the region around Fontainbleau forest where he had spent his formative years with his friends Monet and Renoir, following in the footsteps of the artists of the Barbizon School such as Théodore Rousseau and Charles Daubigny. He found the picturesque village of Saint Mammès, where the rivers Loing and Seine converged, to be particularly inspiring, and he would paint the subject many times in the years that followed.

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. As the critic Gustave Geffroy wrote in 1923 about the surrounding landscape that inspired Sisley : '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' (Gustave Geffroy, 'Sisley', in Les Cahiers d'Aujourd'hui, Paris, 1923).

The resulting riverside views, of which the present work is a scintillating example, came to define his personal approach to Impressionism, characterized by a profound sense of place and unique flair for capturing the subtle poetry of his surroundings. The contemporary critic Julien Leclercq saw these compositions as the most serenely accomplished of the artist’s career, admiring “this path, at the river’s edge…so original, so carefully chosen with its tall, evenly spaced poplar trees, so graceful and light. A peacefulness of the soul prevails in these works, a purity and clarity that, as a young man, the painter had intuitively sensed. It is a liberated, candid, poetic art, which bears witness to a dreaming spirit, an enchanted eye and an intelligent hand” (Julien Leclercq, "Alfred Sisley" in La Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. XXI, March 1, 1899, p. 236).

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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London