Sisley was also fascinated by the river Loing, with its multi-arched bridge lined with mills which he painted from a multitude of viewpoints. For the present work, he set up his easel across from the town of Moret. Juxtaposing brushstrokes of bright yellow, green and purple tones, he captures the shifting effect of sunlight and shadows. Always preoccupied with the Impressionist fashion of recording the changing play of light on the water, in the present work Sisley depicted this scene on a bright summer day, the intense blue sky with light scattered clouds and façades reflected on the surface of the river.
Richard Shone discussed the appeal of this picturesque town: “The fame of Moret rested not so much on what was found inside the town but on the view it presented from across the Loing. Old flour and tanning mills clustered along the bridge; the river, scattered with tiny islands, seemed more like a moat protecting the houses and terraced gardens that, on either side the sturdy Porte de Bourgogne, in turn defended the pinnacled tower of the church. Add to this the tree-lined walks along the river, the continuous sound of water from the weir and the great wheels of the mills, the houseboats and fishermen, and there was, as every guidebook exclaimed, 'a captivating picture', a sight 'worthy of the brush'. These supremely picturesque aspects of Moret left Sisley unabashed. Gathered in one spot were the motifs that had mesmerized him since he began to paint. Here were water, sky, reflections, a busy riverside; the multi-arched bridge was for the artist the last in a long line of such structures going back through Sèvres and St-Cloud and Hampton Court to Argenteuil and Villeneuve-la-Garenne. Here was that conjunction of man-made and natural, the interleaving of foliage and house fronts between sky and water” (ibid. p. 159).
The beautifully painted sky in the present work embodies the importance that the artist attached to this part of the landscape, as explained in a letter to his friend, the art critic Adolphe Tavernier: “The sky is not simply a background; its planes give depth (for the sky has planes, as well as solid ground), and the shapes of clouds give movement to a picture. What is more beautiful indeed than the summer sky, with its wispy clouds idly floating across the blue? What movement and grace! Don't you agree? They are like waves on the sea; one is uplifted and carried away” (quoted in Sisley (exhibition catalogue), Wildenstein & Co., New York, 1966, n.p.).
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