Alfred Sisley
(Paris, 1839-1899, Moret-sur-Loing)
Barges in St. Mammès, ca. 1885
Oil on canvas, 38 x 55 cm
Signed lower left: Sisley
Daulte 627
It was as much out of resignation as inclination that Sisley in 1880 moved to Moret-sur-Loing on the south periphery of the forest of Fontainebleau, where he had already worked in the 60s with Renoir, Monet and Bazille. He was resigned after his many fruitless efforts in Paris, and he was inclined to remove to a smaller, intimate milieu where he could have peace of mind to work. He takes no part in the experiments of the later Impressionism of the 80s and sticks to his "romantic Impressionism", as Pissarro somewhat pejoratively called it. Medieval Moret with ist church, its narrow lanes and its old stone bridge over the Loing earns him inexhaustible reproaches. But it is above all the river landscape that excites him: The Loing, and the Loing Canal and the little Orvanne, which empty into it, before it debouches into the broad Seine at Saint-Mammes. He particularly likes to set up his easel near the mouth of the Loing. Here, opposite the double-gabled house on the Quai de Loing, which so often appears in Sisley’s paintings and still exists, the heavy barges, then as now, moor in the evening when they have a day off, and animate the surface of the water with their reflections. On the Quatorze Juillet they fly the brilliant tricolour, and Sisley does not shrink from this local colouring, which later on will so excite the Fauves. This is a picture that was done swiftly on the basis of direct experience.