Alfred Sisley

La Seine à Bougival

Oil on canvas: 13.1(h) x 16.5(w) in /

33.3(h) x 41.9(w) cm

Signed and dated lower right: Sisley .77

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BV 128



Paris 1839 – 1899 Moret sur Loing


La Seine à Bougival


Signed and dated lower right: Sisley .77

Oil on canvas: 13 1/8 x 16 ½ in / 33.3 x 41.9 cm

Frame size: 20 x 23 in / 50.8 x 58.4 cm



Durand-Ruel, Paris;

from whom acquired by Paul Rosenberg, Paris and New York, on 26th April 1922

Alfred Lindon (c.1867-1948);

confiscated by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, Paris on 10th December 1940 (ERR Li 51);

acquired by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring;

Gustav Rochlitz, Paris and Baden-Baden (swapped by Göring for two Old Master paintings, exchange no.3 on 17th March 1941)

Recovered by the Allied Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section and taken to the Munich Central Collecting Point (no.8039) on 4th September 1945;

returned to France on 27th March 1946;

restituted to Madame Alfred Lindon, New York, in 1959;

by descent in a French private collection



Paris, Galeries Durand-Ruel, Exposition de tableaux d’Alfred Sisley, 23rd January-18th February 1922, no.18



François Daulte, Alfred Sisley Catalogue Raisonné de l’Oeuvre Peint, Lausanne 1959, pp.275-6, no.272, illus.

Nancy Yeide, Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: The Hermann Goering Collection, Dallas 2009, p.470, no.D125 (date wrongly given as 1879 and size as 32 x 40 cm)


This painting will be included in the new edition of the Catalogue Raisonné of Alfred Sisley by François Daulte, being prepared by the Comité Sisley at Galerie Brame & Lorenceau



Alfred Sisley lived along the Seine west of Paris for the whole of the 1870s: from 1871 to 1875 at Voisins-Louveciennes, then at Marly-le-Roi (1875-78) and Sèvres (1878-80). Sisley struggled financially for most of his career and life for his wife Eugénie and two children was cheaper and more pleasant outside Paris, while the railway line which ran into Gare Saint-Lazare provided swift access for exhibitions and visits to dealers. The meanders of the Seine, with its lush fields and low hills, provided countless motifs for the Impressionist whose chief love was landscape painting.


In these years Sisley often painted at Bougival, which lies a little east of Marly-le-Roi and Voisins-Louveciennes. The town was a popular leisure spot for weekending Parisians, immortalized in Renoir’s Bal des canotiers, 1880-81 (Philips Collection, Washington DC). Rather than the bustle portrayed by his friends Renoir and Monet, in La Seine à Bougival

Sisley prefers to focus upon river, land and sky. The human activity of a busy working river – here barges and bargees – is folded harmoniously into a sparkling landscape, the barges emphasizing the diagonal thrust of the Seine, which takes the eye far into the distance. The bargemen are painted with a few quick strokes, their blue clothes chiming with the radiant blue of the water.


MaryAnne Stevens has commented that by 1876 ‘Sisley’s work could be regarded as the product of mature Impressionism’, with its emphasis on ‘ “painting quickly” in order to convey the immediacy of his visual and emotional experience in front of a motif’. This ‘demanded mastery of a technique of rapid notation. During the course of these crucial years his brushwork evolved from carefully placed, broadly handled paint seen in the paintings made in 1872….to an increasingly febrile, comma-like brushstroke….which permits more vital description of movement of light, air and objects as they respond to specific meteorological conditions’[1].


This is especially apparent in this painting of 1877. Sisley primed his canvas with a pinkish underpainting which he allows to show through in the sky, giving a sculptural solidity and sense of movement to the clouds, which take up more than half of the composition. The brio with which the clouds are painted is matched by the water, treated with short, staccato strokes. The exuberance of this work powerfully conveys Sisley’s delight in trying to capture ever-changing nature.


Similar in spirit and handling to the present La Seine à Bougival, with a sparkling day and scudding clouds, are Bougival, 1876 (Cincinnati Art Museum) and Bateaux sur La Seine, 1877 (The Courtauld Gallery, London).





Alfred Sisley, Bateaux sur La Seine, 1877.

The Courtauld Gallery, London.



Note on the provenance


This painting belonged to Alfred Lindon (c.1867-1948), a Paris jeweller with a special expertise in pearls, who began building up his art collection in the 1920s. He married Fernande Citroën (1874-1963), sister of the motor manufacturer André Citroën. The Lindons fled to America when the Germans invaded France in 1940, leaving their collection behind. Their paintings were seized by the Nazi looting organization Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg and fell into the hands of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, who had an insatiable demand for Europe’s treasures, particularly Old Masters. Göring swapped the Sisley for two Old Master paintings with the dealer Gustav Rochlitz. It was recovered in 1945 by the victorious Allies’ Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section and restituted to Madame Alfred Lindon in 1959, descending in her family.









Paris 1839 – 1899 Moret sur Loing



Alfred Sisley was born in Paris in 1839 into a prosperous English merchant family. He went to London at the age of eighteen to study commerce with a view to entering the family business, but soon decided to devote himself entirely to painting. Upon his return to Paris in 1863, assured of family support, Sisley entered the studio of Marc Gleyre where he met and became lifelong friends with Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Sisley’s first recorded landscape dates from 1865, yet his financially comfortable circumstances may account for the fact that there are only eighteen known paintings by him pre-dating 1871.


Sisley’s lifestyle changed abruptly in 1870, the year of the Franco-Prussian War, with the death of his father and the financial ruination of his family. He was then compelled to turn to painting as a means of supporting himself. From this time on his correspondence to friends and patrons is often dominated by pleas for financial aid.


Sisley was the only Impressionist to paint landscapes almost exclusively; his chief interest was in trying to represent the mood and atmosphere of nature. Water always played an important part in his work, a subject matter which gives his paintings a joyous vibrancy and purity of tone. He lived near rivers most of his life, at Bougival, Louveciennes and Marly-le-Roi. In 1880 Sisley moved from Sèvres in the Ile de France to Veneux-Nadon and later to Moret-sur-Loing near Fontainebleau, where he was based until his death in 1899.


Sisley exhibited at the Salon des Refusés in 1863, the Salon in 1866, and contributed to four major Impressionist exhibitions, from the first in 1874 until 1886. Despite a successful one-man show staged by his dealer Durand-Ruel in 1883, Sisley’s paintings found comparatively few buyers during his lifetime beyond a circle of loyal collectors. In 1897, at a large retrospective exhibition at the Galeries Georges Petit, not one painting was sold. Since 1899 Sisley’s subtle and delicate landscapes have entered major private and museum collections throughout the world and he has taken his place at the heart of the Impressionist movement.






[1] Alfred Sisley Impressionist Master, exh. cat. Greenwich, CT, Bruce Museum/Aix-en-Provenance, Hôtel de Caumont Centre d’Art, New Haven and London 2017, p.76.

ImpressionistAlfred Sisley