masthead logo
email webmanager facebook | twitter | instagram | google+ | flickr | contacts | 


ON DISPLAY
LVL 1

European & American Art
Impressionism / Post-Impressionism gallery

See nearby items (accurate to +/- 12 hrs)

Alfred SISLEY

France 1839 – 1899

Un sentier aux Sablons [A path at Les Sablons]
[A path at Les Sablons] 1883 paintings, oil on canvas
Technique: oil on canvas
Primary Insc: signed l.r., "Sisley", not dated
work 46.0 h x 55.0 w cm
Frame 66.0 h x 77.0 w cm
Cat Raisonné: Daulte 492
A Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation 2000
Accession No: NGA 2000.229

Provenance:
  • Lucienne Fribourg (d. c.1968), New York and Paris;
  • sold Parke-Bernet, New York, 17 April 1969, lot 106, as "Property of the Estate of the late Madame Lucienne Fribourg and property of the Fribourg Foundation, Inc.";
  • bought by Justin K. Thannhauser, Munich and New York;
  • bought by Nathan Cummings, New York;
  • sold at auction, Christie's New York, 15 May 1990, lot 7;
  • when bought for the Collection of the Sara Lee Corporation (1990.1);
  • by whom donated to the National Gallery of Australia, August 2000
  • From 1883 to 1889 Sisley lived in Les Sablons (also known as Veneux-les-Sablons), a village situated at the junction of the Seine and Loing rivers on the southern fringe of the forest of Fontainbleau. A path at Les Sablons 1883 is one of only a handful of paintings that seems to have been painted in the studio rather than en plein air. Sisley has organised the picture around a central avenue into the picture plane, a simple composition much favoured by the artist. The grassy path through the village is likely to be the route he took each time he went to the butcher or on a field trip to paint. Unusually, in this painting he has given some prominence to the figures: a man in his backyard chats with a passer by, a telling aside on the intimacy and domesticity of village life.

    Sisley animates the painting with sparkling brushwork, contrasting areas of thin paint with thickly worked passages to respond to different textures and features of the scene. The swell of sky is built with broad brushstrokes that meld cerulean blue with white interlaced with whiplash whites and yellows. It is not surprising to learn that the artist moved to Les Sablons 'where the air would be better.' He has matched the zest of execution with a simple, nuanced palette to create a sensitive, fragile atmosphere.

    A path at Les Sablons is small enough and was painted quickly enough to be counted as an actual 'impression'. It is interesting, however, that Sisley tended to work out his compositions first in drawings, which he carefully numbered in a notebook. It seems that Sisley wanted to know precisely how to organise his compositions before beginning to paint, thus freeing himself from making decisions while he worked and enabling him to respond with real immediacy to the chromatic and gestural qualities of a motif.

    adapted from Richard R. Brettell, in An Impressionist Legacy: The Collection of Sara Lee Corporation and in Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation by Lucina Ward

    1. now held in the Louvre; the drawing for this painting is reproduced in Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation, p.176
    DW

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010