Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
Property from the Collection of Frederick A. and Sharon L. Klingenstein
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)

L'allée des peupliers au bord du Loing

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
L'allée des peupliers au bord du Loing
signed 'Sisley.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
29 x 36 ¼ in. (73.5 x 92.4 cm.)
Painted in 1892
La Tour d'Ygest, Paris.
Matthiesen Gallery Ltd., London.
Samuel and Saidye Bronfman, Montreal (by 1959).
The Saidye Bronfman Foundation, Montreal (acquired from the above); sale, Christie's, New York, 7 November 1995, lot 24.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.
F. Daulte, Alfred Sisley, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Lausanne, 1959, no. 796 (illustrated).

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Jessica Fertig
Jessica Fertig

Lot Essay

In 1889 Sisley moved to the medieval town of Moret-sur-Loing, which is located along the Loing River not far from its intersection with the Seine. The artist had begun painting in this area in 1880, when he settled at nearby Veneux-Nadon, and the Loing and its poplar-lined banks became a central theme in his paintings of the 1890s. “In this thickly wooded countryside, with all its tall poplars, the waters of the river Loing here, so beautiful, so translucent, so changeable”—Sisley wrote in 1892 to the critic Adolphe Tavernier—“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).
L’allée des peupliers au bord du Loing depicts a sun-dappled path on the bank of the river, lined on either side with a row of soaring, graceful poplar trees. In this tranquil, welcoming scene, Sisley captured with expressive brushstrokes the movement of the tree branches rustling in the breeze. The inclusion of several small and loosely rendered figures walking into the foreground of the painting reinforces the monumental scale of the poplars, inviting the viewer to enter the scene and to relish nature’s grandeur. The linear structure of the poplars along the Loing appealed to Sisley, and he painted them from various viewpoints and in different seasons, light, and weather conditions.
These paintings, Richard Shone has noted, “gave expression to his love of clustered lines of perspective running to a low horizon; towering poplars along its banks give those marked vertical divisions that make for strong surface pattern, offsetting the diagonals that take us gently into the distance” (ibid., p. 144). The converging rows of poplar trees in the present scene suggest that Sisley was looking towards the point where the Loing River and its adjacent canal come together, a short distance north of the town center of Moret.
Sisley’s emphasis on the linear, repeating pattern of the poplar trees finds a parallel in Monet’s depictions of the same subject from 1891. Sisley, though, juxtaposed this decorative surface effect with perspectival lines that recede into depth, thus maintaining a strong sense of place—the illusion of a landscape that can be traversed. “It is this exploration of place through multiple viewpoints that shows Sisley to be as innovative an artist as Monet,” Mary Ann Stevens has written. “Rather than mimicking the other Impressionist’s series paintings embarked upon from the late 1880s, Sisley forged his own response to the need to find stability within his compositions by approaching his motif in a linked, serial mode” (Alfred Sisley, Impressionist Master, exh. cat., Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, 2017, p. 162).

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