Alfred Sisley
(Paris, 1839-1899, Moret-sur-Loing)
Summer at Bougival, 1876
Oil on canvas, 47 x 62 cm
Signed & dated lower right: Sisley 76
Daulte 227
Beautiful though the park landscape of Louveciennes and Marly-le-Roi is with its gentle hills, blossoming orchards and alleys of planes, the great magic attraction of this district for the Impressionists is the Seine, which in the artistically productive summer of 1874 had united all of them in Argenteuil. Already in the spring of that year it exerted its fascination on Sisley with its abundance of water and its floods, which inspired some of his finest works. Sisley loves the old pump-house in the Seine on the boundary of Marly and Bougival, with ist emerald-green copper roof, which was once a landmark and has now been sacrificed to the exigencies of modern traffic. But a dominant theme was not always required; the lofty sky with its drifting clouds over the broad valley and the river vanishing in the distance in the fluctuating light of an early summer day is enough for him. Nothing disturbs the summer peace. This painting of open spaces is given intimacy by the presence of a walker on the path along the winding river, accompanied by a fence in which the sunlight plays. Sisley painted this Seine landscape near Bougival on several occasions. It is very difficult for us nowadays to understand why Sisley was so unsuccessful with the public of his time until the last years of his life with these marvellous, light landscapes. The explanation can only be that the Salon with its huge blatant historical pictures had rendered the public eye insensitive to these small gems of light and colour.