Alfred Sisley

Cabanes au bord du canal du Loing, effet de soleil

Oil on canvas: 15(h) x 18.1(w) in /

38.1(h) x 46(w) cm

Signed and dated lower right: Sisley '96

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CL 3500



Paris 1839 – 1899 Moret sur Loing


Cabanes au bord du canal du Loing, effet de soleil


Signed and dated lower right: Sisley .96

Oil on canvas: 15 x 18 1/8 in / 38 x 46 cm

Frame size:



Arthur Tooth and Sons Ltd, London

Drs Fritz and Peter Nathan, Zurich

Hirschl and Adler Galleries, Inc, New York

Christie’s New York, 10th May 1989

Christie’s, New York, 14th May 1997

Private collection, London

Waddington Galleries, London, 2002

Richard Green, London, 2002

Private collection, USA


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



In 1889 Alfred Sisley moved from Veneux-Nadon to nearby Moret-sur-Loing, on the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau, at the junction of the Loing and the Seine. The picturesque old town and its environs were to provide subjects for the rest of his life. ‘Old flour and tanning mills clustered along the bridge; the river, scattered with tiny islands, seemed more like a moat protecting the houses and terraced gardens that, on each side of the sturdy Porte de Bourgogne, in turn defended the pinnacled tower of the church. Add to this the tree-lines walks along the river, the continuous sound of water from the weir and the great wheels of the mills, the houseboats and fishermen, and there was, as every guidebook explained, “a captivating picture”, a sight “worthy of the brush” ’([1]).


Cabanes au bord du canal du Loing, effet de soleil is one of a group of paintings of this motif that Sisley made in 1896, exploring this quiet stretch of the canal at different times of day and in varied lighting ([2]). He was fascinated by the ramshackle cabanes, which provide myriad colours and textures in the foreground of this work, painted with the fluent poetry of his late style. MaryAnne Stevens has noted that the tonalities of this period ‘become increasingly subdued, moving between greys, lilacs and soft creams’, while remaining faithful ‘to concerns which Sisley had pursued throughout his career, namely, recording specific times of day, seasons and weather conditions’([3]).


In this sunlit view, the purple and lilac shadows of the trees are picked up in the reflections in the canal and carried across into the deeper purples and shadowed blues of the cabanes. The tones elide and harmonize at every point, with a subtlety that echoes the music of Frederic Delius, who was shortly to settle at nearby Grez-sur-Loing. Writing of this 1896 Canal du Loing group of paintings, Stevens notes that ‘the artist sought to establish out of the lines of trees and their reflections in the water an abstract structure or pattern across the surface of the canvas which could provide stability within a subject committed to the description of a single moment in time’ ([4]). Cabanes au bord du canal du Loing, effet de soleil is both a delicious evocation of a sunlit morning and a dreamlike homage to a place of tranquillity and beauty.


The Canal du Loing runs for fifty kilometres by the side of the river Loing, from Corquilleroy to Moret-sur-Loing, near where the Loing joins the Seine. The project of the Duc d’Orléans, it was built from 1719 to 1724 to improve the transport of produce from the hinterland of France to Paris, avoiding the meanderings and currents of the Loing. Barges along the canal are often depicted by Sisley, although none appears in the present view. Instead, he introduces a discreet human presence by the cabanes, from the workman in the foreground to the ladies enjoying a stroll with their parasols, an indication of Moret’s populace among which Sisley modestly and observantly moved.















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] Richard Shone, Sisley, London 1992, repr. 2004, p.159.

[2] See François Daulte, Alfred Sisley, Catalogue Raisonné de l’Oeuvre Peint, Editions Durand-Ruel, Lausanne 1959, no. 855, 856, 857, all dated 1896, illus.


[3] Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Alfred Sisley: Poéte de l’Impressionisme, Lyon and Paris, 2002-3, p.407.

[4] Ibid., p.407.

ImpressionistAlfred Sisley