This painting will be included in the new edition of the catalogue raisonné of Alfred Sisley by François Daulte now being prepared at the Galerie Brame & Lorenceau by the Comité Alfred Sisley.
In 1923 the critic Gustave Geffroy exclaimed, "How often Sisley painted this Moret bridge! He hewed it in broad, plain masses, in a single vigorous impulse. What sureness there is in all this fire and energy! What rightness in the placing of every object, the definition of planes, the light!...The youthful light transfigures the age-old stones" (in Sisley, Paris, 1923, pp. 16-18).
Sisley settled permanently in the picturesque and charming town of Moret-sur-Loing in 1889. In 1891 the Sisley family moved to the artist's last home at 19 rue Montmartre. In his new residence, the painter worked in an attic studio where he probably completed works like Le pont de Moret au soleil couchant, which he would have begun en plein air. A more stable personal situation and a deeper awareness of the countryside are at the basis of his masterfully structured canvases executed at the beginning of this new decade. Having participated in two major international exhibitions--with Les XX in Brussels, and with Monet and Renoir at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in Boston--Sisley spent the spring and summer of 1891 in Moret, from which time he focused on his cherished motifs on the shores of the Loing.
Sisley first approached this particular view of the bridge linking Moret's town center with the road to Saint-Mammès in three paintings of 1888 (Daulte nos. 665-666 and 676). The current painting belongs to a small group of paintings from 1892 in which Sisley used a comparatively freer brushstroke to capture the bridge and village (Daulte nos. 789, 791 and 792). Like Claude Monet, Sisley frequently approached similar motifs and views at different times of day, or in different weather conditions. In the current painting, the village of Moret-sur-Loing is literally touched by the sunset, as the building facades reflect back the violet tones of day's end.
Sisley may also have repeatedly depicted particular views of the village because its historic charm and natural beauty accorded so perfectly with his preferred subject matter (fig.1). As Richard Shone has observed, "Here were water, sky, reflections, a busy riverside; the multi-arched bridge was for the artist the last in a long line of such structures going back through Sèvres and St-Cloud and Hampton Court to Argenteuil and Villeneuve-la-Garenne. Here was that conjunction of man-made and natural, the interleaving of foliage and house fronts between sky and water, that marked Sisley's first Impressionist canvases on the Canal St.-Martin" (in Sisley, New York, 1992, p. 159).
Indeed, this bridge was, and remained one of Sisley's preferred motifs, but his most extensive series on a single subject was yet to come. From 1893-1894 Sisley turned his attention almost exclusively to the church of this small town, the Eglise de Notre-Dame. In a foretaste of the artist's celebrated series, the spires of the Eglise de Notre-Dame church are visible in the current painting, encircled in clouds as they emerge from behind the rooftops of this riverside view.
(fig. 1) Photograph of the bridge at Moret, 1882. BARCODE 20625191