Sisley, Alfred

Paris 1839 - Moret-sur-Loing 1899
Biography & List of works

The Canal at St. Mammès

The Canal at St. Mammès


Medium: Oil On Canvas

Size: 32 x 41 cm

Signed: and dated lower right: SISLEY 1886

The Canal at Saint-Mammès was a recent construction, built adjacent to the point at which the Seine is joined by the Loing thereby forming a larger river which flows along the eastern edge of the forest of Fontainebleau north towards Paris. The area had been popular for decades, as its yet unspoiled woodlands were convenient for artists who journeyed there by train from the capital. From the early 1880s Sisley began to record the changes in the area wrought by the construction of the canal with trees cut down, banks straightened and a transformation of this side of the town of Moret. Despite the flat landscape that was revealed when cleared of ancient forest, Sisley returned again and again to this region throughout the decade.

The artist is evidently seated in one of the boats that he loved to paint on the canal, and shows a dramatically foreshortened view of the bows of two barges on the left, while on the right two larger boats are laid up ashore on the bank of the river. Although we see white clouds scudding across a sky that fills two thirds of the picture, the brilliant blue of the water and the bright green trees would suggest a sunny Spring day. The painting was not known until its recent discovery but will appear in the Supplement to the Catalogue Raisonné of the works of Alfred Sisley being prepared by Olivier Daulte (certificate of 8 May 1998).