Shortly after Courbet exhibited a group of snowy landscapes in 1867, several younger artists, among them Monet, Renoir, and Sisley, explored the possibilities of landscapes executed in white or gray with just a few touches of bright color. Sisley, like Monet, continued to paint snow scenes for the rest of his life. This work, with its nuanced palette and expertly rendered brushstrokes, is one of several that Sisley made in winter 1891 at Moret, south of Paris. It depicts the rue Eugène Moussoir, bordered by the wall of the village hospital, just minutes from Sisley’s home.
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Title:Rue Eugène Moussoir at Moret: Winter
Artist:Alfred Sisley (British, Paris 1839–1899 Moret-sur-Loing)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:18 3/8 x 22 1/4 in. (46.7 x 56.5 cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of Ralph Friedman, 1992
Snow Scenes: In the 1870s, Normandy and the Paris region saw several very cold, snowy winters. Pissarro, Monet, and Sisley were enthusiastic painters of snow scenes. They had been influenced by Courbet, who, beginning in the mid-1850s, depicted the remote countryside of his native Franche-Comté in eastern France under snow. However, the Impressionists—who worked out of doors even in inclement weather—preferred inhabited snowy landscapes, notably pedestrians on country roads among scattered houses where a white covering lies thickly on the rooftops. Walls and fences provided additional perspective when the ground was covered with snow. Several of Sisley’s snow scenes from that decade illustrate preferred compositional formats, for example Early Snow at Louveciennes of about 1870 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 48.600), with a curving village road in the foreground, and Snow at Louveciennes of 1878 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris, RF 2022), with large white flakes falling on a straight pathway and a single figure seen from behind.
Topography: Sisley’s dated work indicates that occasionally he also painted snowfalls in and around Moret-sur-Loing, to the southwest, where he lived during the last two decades of his life. Although The Met’s painting is undated, interested residents of Moret have identified the place, a road leading from the center of the old medieval town: now a busy commercial street, it was named in the twentieth century for a pharmacist and Sisley enthusiast, Eugène Moussoir. Thus, the canvas cannot have been painted before 1880, when the artist moved to the area, even though it is reminiscent of some of his earlier work in the genre. Daulte, author of the catalogue raisonné, proposed to date it 1891. Very low temperatures were recorded that year, and at least one other view dated 1891 shows the Loing at Moret in the snow (Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., 1955.545).
The Painting: Sisley’s sky is overcast and lowering. The snow looks shallow and wet, so that a rutted road is exposed, and grit colors the puddles left by foot traffic. The artist, famously sensitive to variations in tone, used pale, transparent blues, pinks, and purples in the shadows and reflections. Although he cloaked the snowy world in an embracing atmosphere of quiet, the picture is not cheerless; quite the contrary, it suggests that Sisley was at home, content in his environment. Among the people of the town one, more carefully observed, stands out: a jaunty male figure with a red scarf and a crutch.
Katharine Baetjer 2021
Inscription: Signed (lower right): Sisley.
baron Blanquet de Fulde, Paris (until 1900; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 12, 1900, no. 58, as "Une rue à Moret, en hiver," for Fr 6,900 to Foinard); Foinard, Paris (from 1900); Maurice Goldfiel, Paris (until 1963; sale, Sotheby's, London, October 23, 1963, no. 45, as "Effet de neige à Louveciennes [sic]," for £20,000 to Bernier); M. G. B. Bernier (from 1963); private collection, France (until April 1965; sold to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, New York, 1965–66; sold in January 1966 to Friedman]; Ralph Friedman, New York (1966–d. 1992)
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Sisley," October 27–December 3, 1966, no. 23 (as "Scène de Village," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Friedman).
Baltimore. Walters Art Gallery. "Sisley: Master Impressionist," March 14–June 13, 1993, not in catalogue.
Washington. Phillips Collection. "Impressionists in Winter: Effets de neige," September 19, 1998–January 3, 1999, no. 57 (as "Rue Eugène Moussoir at Moret: Winter").
San Francisco. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. "Impressionists in Winter: Effets de neige," January 30–May 2, 1999, no. 57.
Brooklyn Museum of Art. "Impressionists in Winter: Effets de neige," May 27–August 29, 1999, no. 57.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 83.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
François Daulte. Alfred Sisley: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. Lausanne, 1959, unpaginated, no. 780, ill., dates the painting to 1891.
Sisley. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 1966, unpaginated, no. 23, ill., dates it 1875.
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1992–1993." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 51 (Fall 1993), p. 54, ill. (color), observes that it depicts the rue Eugène Moussoir, bordered by the wall of the village hospital, in Moret-sur-Loing; dates it to the winter of 1891.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 465, ill., as "Rue Eugène Moussoir at Moret: Winter".
Katherine Rothkopf inImpressionists in Winter: Effets de neige. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection. Washington, 1998, pp. 188–89, 218, no. 57, ill. (color), states that in 1889 Sisley moved to Moret, where he remained for the rest of his life; accepts Daulte's (1959) dating to 1891, noting that Sisley's use of "the familiar compositional device of the off-center perspectival road view" had caused confusion; comments, however, that in contrast to the compositions of the 1870s, the palette here is no longer restrained or subtle.
Kathryn Calley Galitz inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 119, 258, no. 83, ill. (color and black and white).
Richard Kendall inNineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Ed. Sarah Lees. Williamstown, Mass., 2012, vol. 2, pp. 742–43 n. 5, under no. 307.
Sylvie Brame and François Lorenceau. Alfred Sisley: Catalogue critique des peintures et des pastels. Lausanne, 2021, pp. 329, 496, 551, no. 886, ill. (color).
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Alfred Sisley (British, Paris 1839–1899 Moret-sur-Loing)
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