ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE FRENCH COLLECTION
ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)

Femme et enfant sur le chemin des près, Sèvres

Details
ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
Femme et enfant sur le chemin des près, Sèvres
signed 'Sisley' (lower right)
oil on canvas
14 7⁄8 x 21 7⁄8 in. (37.7 x 55.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1879
Provenance
Acquired by the family of the present owners, by 1965.
Exhibited
Glasgow, The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), Nineteenth and Twentieth Century French Paintings, October 1930, no. 19 (titled Paysage).
Post lot text
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.

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Lot Essay

Sisley moved to the Parisian suburb of Sèvres in 1877 and would stay there with his future wife, Eugénie Lescouezec, and their two children until 1880. While living in this quaint village, Sisley frequently set up his canvas on the picturesque river banks of the Seine or in its many green parks. Painting en plein air, Sisley sought to capture the color and texture of nature in oil paint. In Femme et enfant sur le chemin des près, Sèvres, painted circa 1879, Sisley depicted a brisk spring or summer day on a lush, tree-lined walkway. The sun is high, casting no shadows, and the bright blue sky is dappled with fluffy white clouds. At the center of the composition, Sisley outlined the figures of a woman and child walking hand in hand down the dirt path, which winds passed houses with red-tiled roofs. This work was one of several that Sisley devoted to similar charming, quiet stretches of land.
Though productive, this period of Sisley’s career was marked by financial difficulty. In 1879, around the time the present work was painted, Sisley struggled to sell his work; he decided to abstain from the fourth Impressionist exhibition, and to instead submit his work the Salon, organized by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. As he wrote of his decision to his friend, the art critic Théodore Duret (who bought several of Sisley’s paintings that year): “It is true that our [Impressionist] exhibitions have served to make us known and in this have been very useful to me, but I believe we must not isolate ourselves too long. We are still far from the moment when we shall be able to do without the prestige attached to official exhibitions. I am, therefore, determined to submit to the Salon” (quoted in R. Pickvance, “Contemporary Popularity and Posthumous Neglect,” The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874-1886, exh. cat., The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986, p. 246).
Sisley had briefly disengaged from his Impressionist colleagues in 1879, yet his paintings demonstrated his enduring commitment to the stylistic tenets of Impressionism. The surface of Femme et enfant sur le chemin des près, Sèvres, displays a remarkable variation in texture—from spontaneous strokes of blue to effect the color of the sky, to the thick layers of paint that articulate the dense foliage. Sisley was certainly indebted to the Realist landscapes of painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, who painted the rural environs of Paris in the 1850s and 1860s; yet as Christopher Lloyd observed, Sisley’s work is distinguished from his predecessor by the “more agitated character of his brushwork” (“Alfred Sisley and the Purity of Vision,” Alfred Sisley, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1992, p. 149). Lloyd further noted, “Concomitant with these richly textured surfaces was a greater sophistication in the application of color” (ibid., pp. 150-151). Sisley’s understanding of bold, harmonious color is on full display in Femme et enfant sur le chemin des près, Sèvres.
The present work is typical of Sisley’s jewel-like pictures of the 1870s; as Richard Shone has written, “Sisley is the most intimate of the core Impressionist landscape painters…A sense of solitary contemplation pervades his work, a mood enforced by the invariable modesty of his canvas size and the seeming ordinaries of his motifs” (“Alfred Sisley,” The Burlington Magazine, vol. 144, no. 1196, November 2000, pp. 709-710). This luminous painting has remained in the same private collection for nearly 60 years; it appears at auction here for the first time.

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