The present work is as typical of Sisley’s oeuvre as one could hope to find. The typically bright blue pigments and strong impasto forms a delightful scene of the bank of the Loing to the south east of Paris. Sisley spent hours painting the surroundings of this little town and the big skies suited his exceptional ability as an Impressionist landscape painter in the same mould as Monet and Pissarro, his mentor. Alfred Sisley, often overlooked, was unquestionably one of the pioneers of Impressionism.
‘Sisley was indefatigable in his exploration of the Loing, wide and shallow as it passed under the old bridge at Moret, deepening and curving as, joined first by the canal du Loing and, almost immediately afterwards, by the energetic stream of the Orvanne, it flowed towards Saint-Mammès, and out into the Seine.’ (R. Shone, Sisley, London, 1992, p. 144). The present work is part of an extended series of views of Saint-Mammès, painted from 1881-1889. In some of these canvases Sisley depicts an almost deserted, forgotten expanse of river, shimmering under the hot afternoon sky but in others he prefers to paint sites where there is human activity such as the chandlers, supply shops, inns and cafés and boat-yards for construction and repair that are to be found on the banks of the river at Saint-Mammès. Sisley employed a more robust technique for many of these pictures than he had previously. The hot afternoon sun is suggested by the use of saturated primary colours, which has led some art historians to suggest that Sisley was at least partially aware of the developments of the Neo-Impressionists.
His earliest known work, Lane near a Small Town, is believed to have been painted around 1864 and first landscape paintings are sombre, coloured with dark browns, greens, and pale blues. They were often executed at Marly and Saint-Cloud. Little is known about Sisley's relationship with the paintings of J. M. W. Turner and John Constable, which he may possibly have seen in London, although these artists have been suggested as an influence on his development as an Impressionist painter, as have Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.
Among the Impressionists Sisley has been overshadowed by Monet, although his work most resembles that of Camille Pissarro. Described by art historian Robert Rosenblum as having "almost a generic character, an impersonal textbook idea of a perfect Impressionist painting", his work strongly invokes atmosphere and his skies are always very impressive. His concentration on landscape subjects was the most consistent of any of the Impressionists.
Among Sisley's best-known works are Street in Moret and Sand Heaps, both at the Art Institute of Chicago, and The Bridge at Moret-sur-Loing shown at Musée d'Orsay, Paris.