Sisley spent the summer of 1894 in Le Mesnil-Esnard at the estate of his friend and patron, François Depeaux, a wealthy Norman industrialist. While there, Sisley painted seven views of the Coteaux de la Bouille and the Sahurs meadows adjacent to Rouen. Depeaux bought five of the pictures, including the present work.
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Title:Sahurs Meadows in Morning Sun
Artist:Alfred Sisley (British, Paris 1839–1899 Moret-sur-Loing)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:28 3/4 x 36 1/4 in. (73 x 92.1 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Janice H. Levin, 1991
Patronage: Despite his financial difficulties, Sisley had various major clients. In 1893 in Rouen he met François Depeaux, who was one of them. During the summer of 1894 the artist returned to Rouen, where he stayed first at the Hotel du Dauphin et d’Espagne (whose part owner, the collector of Impressionist paintings Eugène Murer, offered him and others reduced rates), and then at the home of Depeaux, a successful local industrialist. It is unlikely that the painter could have afforded this visit to Normandy without their support. Depeaux’s fortune came from mining interests in England and Wales and he was among Rouen’s wealthiest citizens. Born in 1853, he formed a collection of more than 650 modern French paintings between about 1884 and the end of the 1890s, depending upon the Durand-Ruel dealership for many of his purchases. Depeaux also knew Monet personally and bought from him directly. Before he met Sisley, he had already acquired a quantity of the artist’s landscapes of all periods, notably Ferry to the Ile de la Loge, Flood of 1872 (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 1752), Flood at Port-Marly of 1876 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, 909.1.44), Snow at Veneux-Nadon of 1880 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris, RF 2025), and Haystacks at Moret—Morning Light of 1891 (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 583-2).
The Painting: During a visit to Rouen that began in June 1894, Sisley painted seven views of the fields and paths at nearby Sahurs with the hills above La Bouille—on the opposite bank of the Seine—in the background. Four of the five canvases that are known from photographs belonged to Depeaux but only three are located: The Met's picture, Path by the Water at Sahurs—Evening and The Seine at La Bouille—Windy Day, both of which the collector presented to the museum in Rouen (1909.1.50 and 1909.1.51, respectively) in 1909. Two, including The Met's, had been sold in 1906 in connection with a financial settlement made with his estranged and later divorced wife; the fifth was in Sisley’s estate sale. It is reasonable to suppose that the wealthy and enthusiastic collector commissioned, or offered in advance to buy, much of Sisley’s new work made during the visit. The Rouen landscapes show sailboats on the river from the Sahurs path. Thick shrubbery anchors one side of each of the two compositions, while densely wooded hillsides lie in the distance. The color schemes, in a range of blues and greens primarily, are compatible. Illustrating a pastime of leisure, both are reminiscent of work by Sisley and Monet from the 1870s.
The three landscapes of the Sahurs fields might be described as an interrelated group rather than a series. They were likely painted one after the other, and all show the same wide, flat meadow but from three different viewpoints, with some changes of coloration. Each is organized around a row of trees that fixes the horizontal. The Met's picture is closer in composition to the river views, with trees and shrubbery to the left. The field, under a bright sky, is painted in tones of pale yellow and beige with green only in the shadows, indicating that the long grass is dry. The canvas from Sisley’s estate (private collection) shows the same row of trees closer at hand and the meadow without shrubbery. The grass is green mixed with a rosy brown, and so is at an earlier stage of growth. In the third picture (private collection), taken from the greatest distance, the field has been cut and raked so that only husks remain. There are haystacks, a farmer raking, and cows grazing. These variations and the small figures suggest a greater awareness of country life and labors that Sisley developed while living in rural Moret-sur-Loing.
Katharine Baetjer 2021
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Sisley 94
François Depeaux, Rouen (by 1901–06; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 25, 1901, no. 59, as "Un coin de prairie en Normandie," bought in for Depeaux by Durand-Ruel; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 31, 1906, no. 50, for Fr 3,960 to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1906–23; stock no. P 8191, sold June 19 for Fr 45,000 to Longuet]; Edmond Longuet, Paris (1923–33; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 3, 1933, no. 84, for Fr 21,000 to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1933–at least 1949, stock no. 5207]; private collection, Paris (in 1959); Philip and Janice H. Levin, New York (after April 1968–his d. 1971); Janice H. Levin, New York (1971–d. 2001)
Manchester City Art Gallery. "Modern French Paintings," 1907–8, no. 179 (as "A Corner of a Normandy Meadow, Morning Sunshine").
Baltimore. Walters Art Gallery. "Sisley: Master Impressionist," March 14–June 13, 1993, no. 72.
Ferrara. Palazzo dei Diamanti. "Alfred Sisley: Poeta dell'impressionismo," February 17–May 19, 2002, no. 45 (as "Prateria a Sahurs — Sole del mattino").
Madrid. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. "Alfred Sisley: Poeta del Impresionismo," June 8–September 15, 2002, no. 52.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Very Private Collection: Janice H. Levin's Impressionist Pictures," November 19, 2002–February 9, 2003, no. 21.
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. "Claude Monet – Fields in Spring," May 20–September 24, 2006, no. 46.
LOAN OF THIS WORK IS RESTRICTED.
François Daulte. Alfred Sisley: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. Lausanne, 1959, unpaginated, no. 825, ill., publishes the painting among five views of Sahurs dating to 1894.
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1991–1992." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 50 (Fall 1992), p. 47, ill. (color).
Sylvie Patin and Christopher Lloyd inAlfred Sisley. Ed. Mary Anne Stevens. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1992, pp. 24, 250, 251, no. 72, ill. (color) [French ed., "Sisley", Paris, pp. 32, 192, 258–59, no. 72, ill. (color)], state that Sisley painted it while staying at François Depeaux's estate at Le Mesnil-Esnard, and that it is among five works that Depeaux bought from the artist; claim that it was exhibited in Venice in 1938.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 465, ill.
Richard Shone. The Janice H. Levin Collection of French Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, pp. 9, 27, 81–83, no. 21, ill. (color).
Christofer Conrad in Christian von Holst and Christofer Conrad. Claude Monet: Fields in Spring. Exh. cat., Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. Stuttgart, 2006, pp. 102, 158, no. 46, fig. 77 (color).
Sylvie Brame and François Lorenceau. Alfred Sisley: Catalogue critique des peintures et des pastels. Lausanne, 2021, pp. 353, 503, 551, no. 950, ill. (color), as "un coin de la praire de Sahurs en Normandie, soleil du matin".
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