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Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION 
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)

Le Loing à Moret

Details
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
Le Loing à Moret
signed and dated 'Sisley.85' (lower right)
oil on canvas
18 x 21½ in. (46 x 55.5 cm.)
Painted in 1885
Provenance
Julius Schmits, Wuppertal and Basel (1939 until 1953).
Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York (acquired from the above, January 1954).
Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Combemale, New York (acquired from the above, 1954).
Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 27 November 1964, lot 39.
Private collection, London.
Sir Phillip and Lady Harris of Peckham, London (December 1993).
Richard Nathanson, London.
Private collection, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
F. Daulte, Alfred Sisley, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Lausanne, 1959, no. 559 (illustrated).

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

"It is at Moret," Sisley wrote in 1892, "in this thickly wooded countryside with its tall poplars, the waters of the river Loing here, so beautiful, so translucent, so changeable; at Moret my art has undoubtedly developed the most... I will never really leave this little place that is so picturesque" (quoted in R. Shone, Sisley, London, 1992, p. 123).

The site that Sisley extolled with such emotion in this letter is a picturesque, medieval town about seventy-five kilometers southeast of Paris, near the confluence of the Seine and Loing. Sisley had moved to the region in 1880, settling initially at Veneux-Nadon on the left bank of the Loing, in a house just a few minutes' walk from the railway station. In the fall of 1882, he moved about three miles away to Moret, which he described enthusiastically in a letter to Monet: "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). Sisley stayed at Moret for only a year on this occasion, before returning to Veneux-Nadon and the neighboring hamlet of Les Sablons. In 1889, however, he re-located once again to Moret, which would remain his home, and almost the exclusive subject of his art, until his death a decade later.

Sisley recorded Moret and the adjacent sweep of the Loing from every possible angle during his years in the region, exploring the effects of changing conditions and the slightest shifts in viewpoint on the landscape around his home. In the present painting, he has set up his easel on the left bank of the Loing immediately downstream of Moret, where a stately allée of poplars lines the river. This bend in the Loing is more tranquil than the bustling stretch nearer to the confluence of the Seine, with its series of locks and its working quays, allowing Sisley to focus his attention on the play of land, water, and sky. The towering height of the poplars, extending even beyond the upper edge of the canvas, counters the artist's characteristically low horizon line and the broad blue plane of the sky, while the slight curve of the near bank is echoed in the gentle rise of the land on the opposite side of the river. The poplars are painted with particular vigor and freshness, their rich, dark foliage activated by touches of yellow sunlight and spots where the blue sky shows through. The far bank, in contrast, is seen only indistinctly, as though the morning's mist had not yet lifted, the low trees at the water's edge as hazy in direct rendering as they are in their dappled reflections.

Christopher Lloyd has concluded, "These paintings [of Moret] show Sisley 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. There is little evidence to show that Sisley painted each canvas at more than one sitting or reworked the surface at later stages. Indeed, the alla prima effect of these canvases amounts to a remarkable tour de force" (ibid., p. 25).

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