Claude Monet - Woman with a Parasol in the Garden in Argenteuil (1875)
Alfred Sisley - View of Marly-le-Roi from Coeur-Volant (1876)
For a few years in the mid-1870s, Sisley lived in Marly-le-Roi, a town just west of Paris. He painted numerous views of his surroundings: the grounds of Louis XIV’s former estate, local paths and roads, and the nearby Seine. For this painting, which was included in the third Impressionist exhibition, in 1877, Sisley simply walked up the hill from his rented house and selected a northwest view overlooking the town. The building at left was located within the border of neighboring Louveciennes. The lush, manicured grounds to the right of the path belonged to a more extensive property in Marly-le-Roi owned by Robert Le Lubez, an amateur singer and patron of contemporary composers such as Charles-François Gounod and Camille Saint-Saëns.
Alfred Sisley - Allée of Chestnut Trees (1878)
In the 1860’s, Sisley met Pissarro, Monet, Bazille, and Renoir, with whom he brought forth the practice of painting directly from nature. Exhibiting with the Impressionists, as they were formally named at the time of their independent exhibition in Paris in 1874, Sisley enjoyed short-lived but considerable success during the 1870’s.
While residing in Sèvres with his wife and children, Sisley painted this view of a curved pathway lined with chestnut trees in full bloom. The pathway follows a bend in the Seine, lending the viewer access across the pictorial space. The weather is pleasant, the sky a crisp pale blue, and the grass bending softly in the wind. Unlike other Impressionists who returned to their studios in their later careers, Sisley remained outdoors, painting from his sketches rendered in the countryside.
Alfred Sisley - The Road from Versailles to Louveciennes (c. 1879)
In the 1870s, Sisley, like his fellow Impressionists Monet and Pissarro, painted in the villages to the north and west of Paris, which were rapidly becoming suburbs of the capital. The landscapes by the three artists often depicted the roads, bridges, and waterways that linked these outlying villages with Paris.
The site in this painting is the main road between Versailles and Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Sisley’s juxtaposition of two figures on the road—a rural laborer pushing a cart and a man clad in the urban “uniform” of black suit and top hat—alludes to the transformative effects of industrialization and suburbanization on the French countryside. Sisley’s loose, summary technique in this work is in keeping with his style of the late 1870s, as he moved away from the broken brushwork of his earlier Impressionist paintings.