Pont de l’Orvanne

Pont de l’Orvanne
Circa 1888
Oil on canvas
55.5 x 46 cm
Signed ‘Sisley’ lower right
Acquired circa 1910 – 1920, and thence by descent Sale, Christie’s, London, 20 June 2006, lot 116
The Comité Alfred Sisley will include this painting in the new edition of the Alfred Sisley catalogue raisonné by François Daulte, currently being prepared at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau.

Sisley … has found his region… It is the edge of the Fontainebleau Forest, the small hamlets

along the rivers Seine and Loing, Moret, Saint-Mammès…[1]Gustave Geffroy

Throughout his life, aside from a few still-lifes and interiors, Sisley mainly focused on painting landscapes. Among these, rivers play a dominant role in his oeuvre. He painted countless views of the Seine valley in different locations: at Argenteuil, Bougival, Louveciennes, Marly-le-Roi, and Sèvres. In 1880, after moving from the outskirts of the Paris to the picturesque small town Moret, seventy-five kilometres southeast of the capital, where accommodations were more affordable, the artist started a series of paintings, depicting the river Loing and its canal close to the Fontainebleau Forest. “Moret is just two hours journey from Paris, and has plenty of places to let at six hundred to a thousand francs. There is a market once a week, a pretty church, and beautiful scenery roundabout” he mentioned in a letter to Claude Monet. [2]

The move to the countryside marked a turning point in Sisley`s artistic career. Probably due to relief from financial hardship, his paintings of the 1880s display a renewed vitality and freshness. The area also provided him with a new variety of subjects: from Moret`s Gothic church and medieval stone bridge, the banks of the river Loing, the canal which follows its course, to the Seine near Saint-Mammès. Sisley often depicted his motifs from many different angles, sometimes creating sequences of several canvases.

In the present painting, Sisley has set up his easel on the riverbank of the Orvanne, a small tributary of the Loing near Moret, between the reeds lining the creek and a row of tall poplars. The trees lead the eye towards a multi-arched stone bridge and roofs of houses in the distance. The skies are friendly, but slightly overcast, causing pink and silvery reflections on the foliage, rendered in short, rhythmic brushwork. Sisley himself pointed out that that he usually sang or hummed while working outside, and that he found the trio of the scherzo in Beethoven`s septet especially motivating.[3]

[1] Gustave Geffroy, Sisley, Paris 1923, p.19, cited in: Sisley, edited by Mary Anne Stevens, with contributions by

[2] Isabelle Cahn … [et al]. London : Royal Academy of Arts ; Paris: Musée d’Orsay ; Baltimore: Walters Art Gallery;

New Haven 1992, p.191 cited in Alfred Sisley, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1992, p. 184

[3] Gerhard Finkh, Alfred Sisley, (exh.cat.) Wuppertal: Von–der-Heydt Museum, 2011,p. 156