The Comité Sisley has confirmed the authenticity of this work. This work will be included in the new edition of the catalogue raisonné of Alfred Sisley by François Daulte, being prepared at the Galerie Brame & Lorenceau by the Comité Sisley.
‘Sisley seizes the passing moments of the day; watches a fugitive cloud and seems to paint it in its flight; on his canvas the air moves and the leaves yet thrill and tremble. He loves to paint them in spring…or in autumn; for them space and light are one, and the breeze stirring the foliage prevents it from becoming an opaque mass, too heavy for such an impression of mobility and life’
Picturing a sun-dappled river bank, clouds scudding through a powder blue sky and a breeze gently rustling the verdant trees, this quintessential Impressionist landscape by Alfred Sisley was most likely painted in 1882. Depicting a view overlooking the Seine valley from By, a small, picturesque hamlet just downstream from Saint-Mammès, this work is one of a small group in which Sisley has captured the undulating bend of the Seine, with its verdant banks and the sweeping vista beyond. His works from this period are freer in terms of both technique and palette and stylistically relate to Monet's Argenteuil canvases.
At the beginning of 1880, Sisley yielded to financial constraints and moved from Paris to Veneux-Nadon, a rural village situated at the confluence of the river Seine and Loing, on the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau, near Moret-sur-Loing. Having been in search of a change of surroundings, Sisley found his proximity to Fontainebleau, the area that had served as a crucible for the birth of Impressionism, led him to return to the original aims of the movement. While criticism and self-doubt assailed his contemporaries, Sisley remained convinced of the aims of Impressionism and continued on his quest to capture on canvas the colours of the seasons and light at different times of the day. Immersed in the rich variety of views that this corner of France offered, Sisley was particularly taken by the more rugged and unkempt aspects of the local terrain, and during this time he often painted views from the paths that wound through the thickets along the Seine's edge. Using quick and rhythmic brushstrokes to enliven the surface, Après-midi de mai à By, près de Moret sur-Loing is infused with a sense of bucolic stillness; this evocative ambience imparted by late afternoon shadows and full clouds hanging lightly overhead.
On 10 May 1882, Sisley's dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel acquired this work. The subsequent owner of this landscape was the Yorkshire-born, Catholina Lambert, who, in 1851 left Britain for a new life in America. In 1892, having made his fortune in the textile industry, Lambert built Belle Vista Castle, his home in New Jersey, which would house an expansive art collection, which included, among notable Old Master works, an important selection of Impressionist paintings by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Sisley.