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Alfred Sisley

The By Road at the Roches-Courtaut Woods – Indian Summer


Alfred Sisley
Paris 1839 – Moret-sur-Loing, France, 1899


The By Road at the Roches-Courtaut Woods – Indian Summer




Oil on canvas


59.2 x 81 cm


Purchase, John W. Tempest Fund, inv. 1922.400


Western Art

In the early 1880s, the Impressionist group disbanded, its members achieving varying degrees of success. Sisley, penniless and unknown, lived for a time in the village of By, south of Paris and close to the banks of the Seine, which never ceased to delight him. Faithful to his Impressionist beginnings, he painted his canvases entirely from nature. His landscapes are topographically accurate records. He had his favourite places, often characterized by trees and stretches of water, which he depicted in a poetic, personal manner directly influenced by the English Romantic landscapists and the Barbizon School. Here we see a path skirting a loop of the Seine. It is late afternoon during a mild spell in November, and the shadows are growing longer. This painting is a typical work of Sisley’s mature style. The bare branches are swiftly sketched in, almost calligraphic. To achieve the beautiful effect of depth he uses a thick, smudged brushstroke for the foreground to contrast with the smooth, light rendering of the background. His palette is dominated by pure shades of mauve, orange and blue.

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