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

Le printemps à Moret sur Loing

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
Le printemps à Moret sur Loing
signed 'Sisley' (lower left)
oil on canvas
15 x 21¾ in. (38.1 x 55.2 cm.)
Painted in 1891
Dr. Charles Abadie, Paris.
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 17 April 1913, lot 25.
Galerie Tanner, Zurich (acquired at the above sale through Georges Bernheim).
Bühler Koller, Winterthur (acquired from the above, 22 August 1917).
Robert Bühler, Winterthur (by descent from the above, 1932).
Private collection, Switzerland (after 1959); sale, Christie's, New York, 6 November 2007, lot 84.
Private collection, Dallas (acquired at the above sale).
Du, December 1942, p. 49 (illustrated).
F. Daulte, Alfred Sisley, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Lausanne, 1959, no. 764 (illustrated).
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum, Der unbekannte Winterthurer Privatbesitz 1500-1900, September-October 1942, p. 35, no. 246.
Kunsthalle Basel, Impressionisten, September-November 1949, no. 104.
Kunstmuseum Bern, Alfred Sisley, February-April 1958, no. 76.

Lot Essay

The present picture depicts the Loing River at Moret, a picturesque town near the Forest of Fontainebleau where Sisley lived for much of the final two decades of his life. The artist was captivated by Moret, and shortly after his arrival there in 1882, he tried to persuade Monet to join him: "Moret is just two hours journey from Paris, and has plenty of places to let at six hundred to a thousand francs. There is a market once a week, a pretty church, and beautiful scenery round about. If you were thinking of moving, why not come and see?" (quoted in Alfred Sisley, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1992, p. 184). Moret also provided Sisley with a rich array of artistic motifs, from the medieval church and historic stone bridge to the grand avenues of poplars and humble wash-houses on the banks of the Loing. From 1888 onward, Sisley made a circular panorama of Moret, recording the town and the adjacent sweep of the river from every possible angle, in varying seasons and weather conditions. Discussing Sisley's work from this period, Christopher Lloyd has declared, "These paintings show him at the height of his powers. All the experience of the previous decades was blended in these canvases, which amount to the summation of his output: the paint is richly applied with the impasto more pronounced than in previous works, the brushwork more insistently rhythmical, the execution more rapid, and the colors more vibrant" (ibid., p. 25).

To paint the present canvas, Sisley set up his easel on the right bank of the Loing immediately downstream from Moret, looking back toward the town. The focus of the scene is the river itself, depicted beneath an expansive, cloud-flecked sky. Stately trees line the banks, their verdant spring foliage rendered in loose, lively strokes, and fragmented reflections play across the light-dappled surface of the water. The historic center of Moret is visible in the distance, with the tower of the church silhouetted against the sky (fig. 1). The stately arches of the bridge linking Moret with the road to Saint-Mammès, one of Sisley's favorite motifs in the region, are obscured here by the low, leafy branches of the tree on the left. In 1892, the year after he made the present picture, Sisley painted Moret from a very similar vantage point (Daulte, no. 814; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven). In the later canvas, however, the artist has stepped back slightly on the riverbank, revealing the activity of the Matrat boatyard in the foreground. The church of Moret, which dominated the view from the garden of Sisley's house, appears in the distance in many of the artist's paintings from the early 1890s. In 1893-1894, he made a series of a dozen canvases in which the flamboyant Gothic façade of the church is viewed at close range, recalling Monet's roughly contemporary series of Rouen Cathedral (Daulte, nos. 818-822, 834-840).

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