Lot 136
  • 136

ALFRED SISLEY | Vieille chaumière aux Sablons

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
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  • Attributed to Alfred Sisley
  • Vieille chaumière aux Sablons
  • signed Sisley and dated 85 (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 54 by 73cm., 21 1/4 by 28 3/4 in.
  • Painted in 1885.


Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris & New York
Theodore Haviland, Boston (probably acquired from the above)
Private Collection, Switzerland (by descent from the above; sale: Sotheby's, New York, 9th May 2001, lot 331)
Private Collection, Connecticut (purchased at the above sale; sale: Sotheby's, New York, 3rd May 2012, lot 135)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Alfred Sisley (exhibition catalogue), Royal Academy of Arts, London; Musée d'Orsay, Paris & The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1992-93, no. 45, illustrated p. 58 (titled View of a Farm House)


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"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Vieille chaumière aux Sablons was painted in 1885, one of the most prolific years of Alfred Sisley’s career. It depicts the landscape surrounding Veneux-les-Sablons, a village situated at the junction of the Seine and Loing rivers in the Île-de-France region, where Sisley lived from 1883 to 1889. In the present work, rural cottages surrounded by lush and verdant fields are overlooked by a vast sky, exemplifying the artist’s fascination with the scant intersections of natural and human life that peppered the region. In Vieille chaumière aux Sablons, the commonalities between the palette of the natural and man-made structures attest to the joy and reverence felt by the artist towards the potentiality of colour. The purple-grey hues of a flint cottage meet their likeness in the delicate strokes depicting the branches of a wood shed in the garden, while the white clouds share their dusky light with the illuminated façades of the two cottages. Sisley was intent on capturing the different effects of the seasons, weather and time of day on the rural landscape, and remained preoccupied with describing the varying effects of light throughout these moments. The present work exemplifies a kind of spontaneity in the application of paint, a technical freedom which can be seen in Sisley’s work over the course of the 1880s. The artist builds his compositions by repeatedly layering pigment applied in quick brushstrokes in different directions, creating a richly textured surface saturated with composite colours. In the foreground of the present work, the shadowy green garden flecked with lilac offers the hint of wildflowers through the artist’s gestural insistence on verticality, while the sky moves horizontally, in undulating, rolling strokes of white, cerulean and pale violet.

For Sisley, the skies were as complex as the wild and heterogeneous terrain of the Île-de-France.

‘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.).

Writing in the catalogue of the Sisley retrospective exhibition held in 1992, Sylvie Patin observed: ‘he realised the full potential of using a specific type of brushstroke and quality of paint to identify the mood of a landscape, be it thin, flat strokes of dry, almost chalky paint to convey a becalmed, crisp winter day, or bolder, more fully laden strokes of pigment set down with more oil to capture the shimmering heat of a mid-summer day. […] his range of tonalities came to be centred more consistently on an axis of green and lilac, such as is also found in the contemporary work of Guillaumin, Toulouse-Lautrec and the Belgian Neo-Impressionists’ (Sylvie Patin, in Alfred Sisley (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., 1992-93, p. 183).

The importance of the Moret countryside cannot be overestimated in Sisley’s work of this period. The transformative quality of light in the region was a constant source of inspiration for the artist, allowing him to experiment ceaselessly from both a technical and chromatic point of view. It is an essentially Impressionist place with the gentle light of the Île de France, the soft colours and the constantly changing skies of northern France. There are green woods and pastures, curving tree-lined banks of rivers, canals and narrow streams, wide stretches of the river where the Loing joins the Seine at Saint-Mammès, old stone houses, churches and bridges’ (Vivienne Couldrey, Alfred Sisley, The English Impressionist, Exeter, 1992, p. 68).

This work will be included in the new edition of the Catalogue Raisonné of Alfred Sisley by François Daulte now being prepared at the Galerie Brame & Lorenceau by the Comité Sisley.