This painting will be included in the new edition of the catalogue raisonné of Alfred Sisley by François Daulte now being prepared by the Comité Sisley.
During the early half of the 1880s, while Sisley lived in Veneux-Nadon, Les Sablons and Moret, he often visited the small port town of Saint-Mammès, which was situated at the meeting place of the rivers Seine and Loing southeast of Paris. Here, in the heart of the Ile-de-France, the landscape was generally flat, with gently rolling hills in the distance. Sisley often adopted a low horizon, concentrating on the breadth of the river as his central motif, surmounted by a huge expanse of sky. Here, facing northwest, he looked across the river to the far bank, which is crowded with barges, as a buoy floats midstream. Some workers have set off in a rowboat to cross the river. The houses of Saint-Mammès are on the right, abutting on the steep, paved embankment along which canal boats were towed by men and horses.
The sky in the present painting is notable for its stippled appearance, which is reflected in the water below. In discussing another Saint-Mammès landscape painted in this year, William R. Johnston has pointed out that "The intensification of [Sisley's] palette and the seemingly more systematic application of small brushstrokes suggest that Sisley was aware of the Neo-Impressionist developments of Seurat. It is unclear as to how he might have made contact with this elaboration of Impressionism. From the documentary evidence, it would appear that from 1883 to 1889 he remained at Les Sablons, dogged by ill-heath and financial worries. He may, however, have made brief trips to Paris where, rather than studying Seurat at first hand, he discussed the new technique with Camille Pissarro, by then a committed advocate of Neo-Impressionism" (in M.A. Stevens, ed., Alfred Sisley, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1992, p. 206).