Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
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Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)

La route de Marly-le-Roi

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
La route de Marly-le-Roi
signed and dated 'Sisley.75' (lower left)
oil on canvas
23 3/8 x 28 7/8 in. (59.5 x 73.4 cm.)
Painted in 1875
Mme Léon-Marie Clapisson, Paris; her sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 28 April 1894, lot 35.
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired at the above sale.
François Depeaux, Rouen; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 25 April 1901, lot 56.
M. Lemaire, Paris, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Albert Lehmann, Paris, by 1904.
Mme Lehmann-Lefranc, Paris.
Private collection, Switzerland.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 2 February 2004, lot 9.
Acquired at the above sale by the previous owner.
F. Daulte, Alfred Sisley, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1959, no. 175 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Alfred Sisley, February 1897, no 18. Paris, Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Sisley, November 1904, no. 26.
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Alfred Sisley, May - June 1917, no.
Paris, Galerie Beaux-Arts, Tableaux de collections Parisiennes,
, April - May 1955, no. 121.
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Lot Essay

Painted in 1875, La route de Marly-le-Roi dates from the beginning of Sisley's productive time living in Marly-le-Roi, one of the towns in the outskirts of Paris to which some of the Impressionists had moved. In this picture, Sisley has deliberately avoided the beauty spots of the town in which he had now made his home, instead focussing on a scene of everyday life that is filled with its own charm, encapsulating some of the Impressionist ethos.

Before making his home in Marly-le-Roi, Sisley had moved to Louveciennes, having abandoned the Batignolles area of Paris; there he was in close proximity to Renoir in particular, and also to Pissarro and Monet. He had chosen the area in part because of its proximity to Paris, in part because the cost of living there was so much less than in the capital, and in part because he now had a young family to support. However, the clear impetus was the landscape itself: even in Paris, he had favoured scenes involving greenery where possible, and so his move to the less industrialised areas surrounding Paris made perfect sense. In La route de Marly-le-Roi, his enjoyment of the scenery is palpable. The feathered brushstrokes with which he has captured the clouds and the foliage lend the picture a lightness of touch that perfectly demonstrates the reason for which his fellow Impressionists held him in such high regard. Pissarro himself was moved to refer to Sisley as, 'a great and beautiful artist, in my opinion he is a master equal to the greatest' (Pissarro, quoted in C. Lloyd, 'Alfred Sisley and the Purity of Vision', pp. 5-33, M Stevens (ed.), Alfred Sisley, exh. cat., New Haven and London, 1992, p. 8).

Only the year before La route de Marly-le-Roi was painted, Sisley had participated in the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris which generated lively debate amongst a public unaccustomed to the 'new painting'. That sale was ultimately a disappointment, leaving Sisley in the straitened circumstances that had led to his becoming a full-time artist in the first place, following the loss of his father's wealth in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War. Painted in this moment of personal turmoil and profound doubt of existential choices, La route de Marly-le-Roi is, thus, a very significant work. Its uncompromising celebration of the new impressionist pictoral techniques, against all odds, makes a very relevant work in the early history of the movement.
The provenance of La route de Marly-le-Roi attests to its high quality: the picture was initially in the collection of Léon Clapisson, one of the groundbreaking advocates and patrons of Impressionism. The son of a composer of comic operas, he amassed a significant collection of works by Manet, Monet and in particular Renoir, who painted two portraits of his wife, one of which now hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. At the auction of his collection in 1894, this picture was purchased by the Rouen industrialist François Depeaux, an enthusiastic sponsor of Impressionism and indeed the man who encouraged Monet to paint the cathedral of his hometown. The first sale of his collection was held in 1906 and included thirty-two pictures by Sisley, alongside a range of works by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and others.

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