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Title Une Cour aux Sablons
Alternative Title A Courtyard in Les Sablons
Collection Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Artist Sisley, Alfred (French and British painter, 1839-1899)
Date 1885 (dated)
Signed yes
Description Sisley has painted a group of houses, with green and blue doors, set in three sides of a square. On the nearest building, some trellising has been attached, and there are plants growing up it. In the foreground sit three low stacks of straw. To the right, a woman wearing a white shirt and blue skirt sweeps the path. Further back and to the left, a man, dressed in dark trousers and a white shirt, stands beneath a tree. The sky is bright blue, the lower left hand side of the composition in deep shadow, while the other houses are bathed in sunshine..
Current Accession Number ABDAG003784
Former Accession Number 37.25
Inscription front lr 'Sisley 85'
Subject townscape; figure; everyday life
Measurements 55.0 x 73.3 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased 1937 with income from the Webster Bequest.
Provenance Durand-Ruel, Paris and New York; Theodore Haviland, New York, 1888; Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York; private collection, New York.
Principal Exhibitions Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 1949, cat. no. 260; Spirit of France, Glasgow Art Gallery, Glasgow, 1943, cat. no. 27; Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 1953; Impressionist Landscapes, Nottingham University, Nottingham, 1971; Festival Exhibition, S.T.V. Ltd., Edinburgh, 1973; Retrospective: Alfred Sisley, Tokyo (touring), 1985; A Scottish Collection - Treasures from Aberdeen Art Gallery, Nagasaki (touring), 2000-2001, cat. no. 51; French Connections at Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen, Aberdeen Art Gallery, 2001, cat. no. 19; Alfred Sisley - Poet of Impressionism, Ferrara, 2002-2003, cat. no. 49.
Publications Ingres to Van Gogh, London, 1937; Aberdeen Art Gallery, Picture Book of Landscapes, London, 1968, cat. no.15; Couldrey, V., Alfred Sisley; the English Impressionist, 1992; Kapos, M., The Impressionists: a Retrospective, Southport, Connecticut; Aberdeen Art Gallery & Japan Association of Art Museums, A Scottish Collection - Treasures from Aberdeen Art Gallery, Tokyo, 2000, cat. no. 51, p. 147; Aberdeen Art Gallery and Japan Association of Art Museums, A Scottish Collection - Treasures from Aberdeen Art Gallery, Tokyo, 2000, cat. no. 51, pp. 146-147; Aberdeen Art Gallery, French Connections at Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen, 2001, cat. no. 19, p. 39; Musée des Beaux Arts des Lyons, Alfred Sisley - poète de l'impressionnisme, Lyon, 2002, p. 214, cat. no. 49; Ferrarra Arte S.p.A., Alfred Sisley - Poeta dell'impressionismo, Ferrarra, 2002, cat. no. 42, p. 223; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Alfred Sisley - Poeta del Impresionismo, Madrid, 2002, cat. no. 49, p. 245.

A French Impressionist painter of English descent, Alfred Sisley settled in the area of Moret-sur-Loing, which lies on the southern fringes of the Forest of Fontainebleau, in 1880 and for the rest of his life that particular area of France provided him with most of his subject matter. For Sisley, however, this was not a country idyll, and his letters of the time to his dealer Durand Ruel complain of the straitened circumstances in which he was living. Durand Ruel had held a one-man show of Sisley's work in June 1883, but very few of the seventy paintings exhibited had sold. In need of a change, in October of that year Sisley rented a small house at the entrance to the village of les Sablons, not far from Moret, where he felt the air would be better and remained there until November 1889. Whilst living in les Sablons Sisley continued to paint the river Loing at St-Mammès and Moret on innumerable occasions. Views of les Sablons itself are much rarer. Of these, this work gives one of the most comprehensive of views of the vernacular buildings of the village.

Une Cour aux Sablons is a particularly free and fresh interpretation of the village, with bold, vibrant use of colour and free-flowing brushwork. This freedom of treatment serves to open up the tight square formed by the buildings. To the left, the houses are covered with a wooden lattice, on which bright plants are growing, echoing the greenery to the right. The two figures, a man and a woman, are devoid of detailed features. Instead of providing focal points for the composition, they merge into the buildings behind them. The woman's blue skirt and the dashes of red across the painting boldly contrast with the whitewashed walls of the houses and enliven the composition. In the foreground, piles of hay take on almost human shapes. Positioned in light and shade, their strongly contrasting tones and colours give life and movement to the front part of the picture.

Rights Owner Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Author Jennifer Melville



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