Les Oies A Saint-Mammes

by Alfred Sisley


DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 11.42 x 15.75 inches (29 x 40 cm)
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘Sisley’ (lower right)
MEDIUM: Pastel on paper

Alfred Sisley painted his landscapes ‘en plein air’ rather than in a studio, in order to realistically capture the transient effects of sunlight.  This piece depicts a man standing on the banks of the river at Saint-Mammes, Paris, with a gaggle of geese.


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    Saint-Mammès is a commune situated in north-central France. The River Seine runs alongside Saint-Mammès, and converges with the Loing via a canal that reaches around the town upwards from the west; Alfred Sisley’s composition draws direct inspiration from this confluence. Sisley produced several varied paintings and sketches of the rivers at Saint-Mammès following a move with his family from the Paris region to a small village near Moret-sur-Long in 1880.

    Sisley preferred to paint outdoors rather than in the studio, the plein air method enabling him to more directly observe and transcribe the tranquillity and natural light of the French countryside as he has here. He is renowned for creating the atmospheric and inviting landscapes that typify the Impressionist movement. Though known primarily for his paintings Sisley was also an excellent draughtsman, and in Les Oies A Saint-Mammès his adaptation of the pastels to the Impressionist style wonderfully captures the various tones of the riverbank and the wisps of the clouds above.

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    The artist was born in Paris 1839 to affluent English parents. At the age of 18 he was sent to London to study for a career in business, but after four years he abandoned it and returned to Paris. He studied at the Paris École des Beaux-Arts where he became acquainted with Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

    Their work was more colourful than the public was used to seeing and as such they were not successful in exhibiting their work for many years. Sisely’s paintings were finally accepted at the Salon, France’s most important art exhibition, but this did not bring financial or critical success.

    Sisley spent the rest of his life in poverty and his paintings did not rise significantly in value until after his death. He spent his life living in France with his wife and children, yet took few trips to the UK and Wales where he painted many works.


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