ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
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ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
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ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)

Matinée d'octobre près de Port-Marly

ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
Matinée d'octobre près de Port-Marly
signed 'Sisley.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 3/8 x 21 3/8 in. (46.5 x 54.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1876
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris.
Feder & Picq, Paris (acquired from the above).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, June 1892).
Martin A. Ryerson, Chicago (acquired from the above, August 1892).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, March 1893).
J.M. Schley, New York (acquired from the above, February 1899).
Katherine Schley Variell, New York (by descent from the above, by August 1915).
Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, Maine (by bequest from the above, 1960); sale, Sotheby's, London, 24 April 1963, lot 112.
O’Hana Gallery, London (acquired at the above sale).
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner, October 1963.
F. Daulte, Alfred Sisley: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Lausanne, 1959, no. 224 (illustrated; titled Matinée d'octobre).
S. Brame and F. Lorenceau, Alfred Sisley: Catalogue critique des peintures et des pastels, Paris, 2021, p. 118, no. 236 (illustrated; illustrated again, p. 437).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Works of Alfred Sisley, February-March 1899, no. 23.
Waterville, Colby College Bixler Art and Music Center, 1961-1962 (on extended loan).
London, O'Hana Gallery, Summer Exhibition of French Paintings and Sculpture of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, June-September 1963, no. 52 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

“In my opinion he is a master equal to the greatest”
Camille Pissarro
"Sisley loved above all to paint the Seine, flowing calmly past within its leafy banks. He was a painter of water—fluid, opaque, moving yet still”
François Daulte
The opening of 1875 ushered in a period of great change for Sisley, who left Louveciennes for the town of Marly-le-Roi in the valley of the Seine. Although the catalyst for venturing further west along the river had been largely financial, this tranquil idyll, long famed for its picturesque vistas and bucolic charm, would prove fertile soil for the artist. Along with the surrounding towns of Louveciennes and Bougival, the area had become a popular destination for artists and vacationers alike; from painter Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun in the 1830s, who praised the “spacious view that unfolds, as the eye follows the long course of the Seine,” to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and later Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet, Marly-le-Roi had become a desirable location for those seeking inspiration and respite from the growing bustle of the city" (E.V. Le Brun, quoted in R. Shone, Sisley, London, 1992, p. 54).
Painted following the First Impressionist Exhibition in April 1874— which had opened the eyes of the public to the revolutionary Impressionist aesthetic—and around the time of its second iteration which helped cement the validity of its new, modern terminology, Matinée d'octobre près de Port-Marly pays fitting homage to the movement’s pursuit of painting en plein air. Determined to capture the fleeting, atmospheric beauty of the cool, early morning light, one can almost imagine Sisley waking early in order to secure the perfect location from which to paint—dismissing the icy autumn chill which must have no doubt plagued his fingers as he began to work the canvas.
Eschewing conventionally picturesque vistas, Sisley preferred to paint the ordinary, even the commonplace, finding merit in seemingly insignificant minutiae—from the crisp outline of fallen leaves to the gentle bend of a wind-swept tree. Giving value to the kaleidoscopic reflection of moving water and lovingly reproducing the variegated patchwork of moss-covered bark, so eloquently captured in the present work, the artist succeeded in developing a visual language that was as nuanced and sensitive as his inimitable eye.
Working in series, Sisley was able to mine the quiet grandeur of his subjects and further distil his compositions. Thus, in the sister picture to the present painting, Bords de Seine en automne près de Port-Marly, in the collection of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, the view has become still more refined: the line of trees anchoring the composition to the left have become streamlined and polished; the rippling waves of the river crisp and defined. While the graceful figure walking along the damp bank remains, the boats have been replaced by a single barge, which gently glides across the mirror-like water.
Such was the success of the Marly pictures created between 1875 and 1877, that they have come to be admired as some of the artist’s most celebrated—leading Christopher Lloyd to praise them as "some of the finest pictures in Sisley's oeuvre,” remarking they number "among the best-known images in the canon of Impressionist art" (quoted in M.A. Stevens, Sisley, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1992, p. 149).
Owned by a series of prestigious private collectors, the present painting once belonged to legendary American philanthropist Martin A. Ryerson. A trained lawyer who advanced his family’s dominion of the Chicago lumber industry, Ryerson was a committed and conscientious collector. His keen eye and deep appreciation for the Impressionist movement, in particular, led him to own iconic works by Renoir and Monet, including the latter’s Nymphéas of 1906 and La Gare Saint-Lazare, le train de Normandie of 1877, later generously donated to The Art Institute of Chicago. More recently part of the collection of the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, Maine, Matinée d'octobre près de Port-Marly was acquired from the O’Hana Gallery in London by the family of the present owner, where it has remained for nearly sixty years.

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