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

Chemin de Prunay à Louveciennes

ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
Chemin de Prunay à Louveciennes
signed and dated 'Sisley. 74' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 3⁄8 x 22 in. (46.8 x 55.7 cm.)
Painted in 1874
Picq-Véron, Ermont-Eaubonne.
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, June 1892).
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, February 1900).
Georges Hoentschel, Paris (acquired from the above).
Mme Hoentschel, Paris (by descent from the above).
Private collection, Switzerland.
Anon. sale, Phillips, New York, 7 May 2001, lot 20.
Robert Noortman, Maastricht.
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 2003.
S. Brame and F. Lorenceau, Alfred Sisley: Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels, Paris, 2021, p. 80, no. 126 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Exposition de tableaux de Monet, Pissarro, Renoir et Sisley, April 1899, no. 131.
Ferrare, Palazzo Dei Diamanti; Madrid, Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum and Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Alfred Sisley: Poète de l'impressionisme, February 2002-January 2003, no. 17 (illustrated in color).

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Lot Essay

Sisley painted this tranquil scene on the outskirts of Louveciennes, a suburban enclave in the lush valley of the Seine where he lived from late 1871 until early 1875. With its willow-lined river banks and gently rolling hills, Louveciennes (along with the neighboring towns of Bougival and Marly-le-Roi) had long attracted a sizable colony of writers and painters. In the 1830s, the painter Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun described being seduced “by this spacious view that unfolds, as the eye follows the long course of the Seine, by the splendid woods at Marly and the delightful orchards, so well-tended you could believe yourself in the Promised Land; in short, by everything about Louveciennes, one of the most charming places on the outskirts of Paris” (quoted in R. Shone, Sisley, New York, 1992, p. 54).
The attractions of Louveciennes, both practical and aesthetic, were numerous. It was only seventeen kilometers from Paris, easily accessible by coach or train; Pierre-August Renoir and Camille Pissarro were already settled there, and Claude Monet was living nearby at Argenteuil; there was a picturesque network of streets, the Forest of Marly stood at the edge of town, and the river was just downhill at Bougival. The landscapes that the four artists painted there from 1869 onward are often considered the first Impressionist pictures, and the region has been named the “cradle of Impressionism” (R. Brettell, A Day in the Country: Impressionism and the French Landscape, exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1984, p. 79). Certainly, the three years that Sisley spent at Louveciennes proved exceptionally fruitful and witnessed the emergence of the artist's mature Impressionist style. John Rewald has written, “Sisley's paintings now radiate assurance, an eagerness for discovery, and the enjoyment of a newly won freedom” (The History of Impressionism, New York, 1973, p. 290).
Whereas Sisley's paintings of Louveciennes itself frequently employ a plunging road to establish spatial recession, he experimented in the countryside with more subtle means of indicating depth, including rolling hills, furrowed fields, and lightly trodden, grassy paths. Here, a wood stack and fences recede into the distance and a field on the right generates a sense of space, while the open area in the foreground prepares the eye for the soaring expanse of cirrus-streaked sky that crowns the scene.
Describing Sisley's work from this period, Christopher Lloyd has written: “The group of paintings by Sisley dating from the 1870s are subject to the strictest pictorial organization. It is this compositional aspect, in addition to their facture, that makes these pictures, in comparison with landscapes by artists of the Barbizon school, specifically modern. Sisley incorporates an almost relentless array of horizontals, verticals, and diagonals deployed as plunging perspectives and flat bands of planar divisions. The origins of such a style can be found in seventeenth-century French painting carried forward through Henri-Pierre Valenciennes to neo-classical landscape painting culminating in the Italian landscapes of Corot dating from the 1820s. Yet Sisley, more so in many cases even than Pissarro and Monet, was more radical than any of his sources, since he seeks to bring order to a world in an ever increasing state of flux. The depiction of modernity was best served by a resolute style derived from astute visual analysis and confident technique” (Alfred Sisley, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1992, pp. 14-16).

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