Collection Spotlight: Alfred Sisley

Always in search of more affordable rent, Alfred Sisley moved with his family several times in the 1870s to one small village after another along the Seine. With each change of address, Sisley found himself further from Paris, settling in Louveciennes in 1871, Marly-le-Roi in 1872, Sèvres in the summer of 1877, and around 1880 to Veneux-Nadon, near where the Seine and Loing Rivers converge at Saint-Mammès. He mined each village’s riverfront for his paintings, which were increasingly focused on the Seine and its tributaries as avenues for both leisure and commerce. Until it was surpassed by the railroad, rivers remained the most efficient mode of transportation within France, and Sisley documented their working character throughout his career.

Painted around 1880, The Loing at Saint-Mammès depicts a stretch of the river Loing where it flows into the Seine, crowded with barges on a bright summer day. Using a series of rapid brushstrokes, Sisley painted the water, land, and sky with the same frenetic energy. By contrast, he maintained a more reserved technique when painting the barges, which float one behind the other. A bridge splits the canvas along the horizon line and provides structure for the painting. The Loing at Saint-Mammès conveys the energy of this busy confluence of rivers and represents a shift in Sisley’s style—from the delicate brushwork of his early career to the bold strokes that would define his later work.

ALFRED SISLEY French, 1839 – 1899 The Loing at Saint-Mammès, ca. 1880 Oil on canvas 15 x 22 inches Gift of Montgomery H. W. Ritchie, 1996.2.1

Posted by Kristen Rambo at 2:00 PM
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