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Andrea Kronstedt<br />Art Appreciation TR 12:30<br />Art Critique<br />Title: Moret, Seen from the Loing – An Afternoon in May<br />Artist: Alfred Sisley (English, active in France, 1839-1899)<br />Medium: Oil on canvas<br />Dimensions: N/A<br />Date: 1888<br />Description<br />Alfred Sisley’s painting captures the small town of Moret seen in afternoon light. The illusion of space in Moret, Seen from the Loing is impressively pronounced. Vertical placement gives depth to the artwork by combining the overlap and size difference, making the illusion of space even greater. Sisley paints a quaint little town with buildings and trees into the background of the painting, making them appear far away, and a few people are walking along on a grassy path in the foreground. There is a small dirt path curving around a rock. The most prevalent subject, the tall trees, shoots up from the ground and appears scarcely covered in leaves. There is a bridge nearly hidden by the leaves of the trees. The sky creates atmospheric perspective and is full of clouds, seemingly going on forever. Rooftops peek out behind uniform trees on the bank of the river. Running parallel to the river is Moret. The river reflects the town and the sky, donating perspective to the impressionism of the painter’s canvas. Of course, Sisley also depicts time in his artwork. The viewer can tell from the title itself that the painting was worked on during many May afternoons, but without the title the viewer would be left to infer from the lighting and shading of the artwork what time of day the image is depicting. It is not night, because the sky is clear and light blue. It cannot be dawn, because the sky is also differently hued at that time in the morning. Without the title the viewer may believe it to be late morning or early afternoon. The painting records a moment in Moret during a time of the day. Motion can be viewed, in the manner of illusion, through the people. They appear to have just encountered each other, perhaps on a recreational walk. The woman who is adjacent to the tall trees is just walking along, maybe simply enjoying the weather. It may be windy, since the grass is in disarray. The trees in the foreground are minutely bent in many directions, though the primary path they follow is skywards. Sisley uses very earthy toned color scheme that maybe border on pastel. Sisley employed the technique of plein air, or painting outdoors. The clouds are white with some toning and even some pink to accent the light blue that graduates into darker and darker blues. The grass and trees vary between a forest and yellow-green color with the trunks of the trees a dark brown color in the shade and a tan color in the light of the sun. The buildings and the bridge are a light gray with sky-blue shutters on some of the windows. The ground in the town is a pale pink that is also used to accent the clouds. The rooftops are a dark crimson-like color, with one being somewhat red-orange. Texture is implied through the technique of impressionism. Sisley’s blunt strokes that border on pointillism give the viewer a feeling that to blend everything together smoothly, the viewer must step back from the painting and squint. The painting has an impasto feel to it; the paint rises off of the canvas and gives the painting texture. <br />Analysis <br />Alfred Sisley has used his skills to imbue this painting with balance. Despite the painting as a whole having asymmetrical balance, it shows elements of symmetrical balance, as well. The asymmetrical balance is due to the tall trees on the left being absent from the right side, as well as other aspects – such as the people and the bridge, the buildings and the trees. There is repetition being shown through the clouds and the trees, completing the painting’s balancing act. Yet there is symmetrical balance and unity being shown through the sky and town being reflected in the water. The entire work has a unity about it in that it contains consistently maintained lighting despite the many days it was worked on. The variety can be seen throughout the use of color and the brush strokes used for each different aspect of the painting. The grass in the foreground appears sharper than the rooftops or the leaves on the trees. There are many different styles of building and trees. The people are not wearing the same type of clothing, other than their hats. Sisley subordinates the reflection of the town of Moret in the water, thus emphasizing the town itself. In the reflection, Moret appears to be shadowy and dark; very few of the colors seen in the town can be seen in its reflection. The colors that can be seen in the reflection are subdued, as if to push the viewer’s eye up to the brighter and more vivid version of the town, something of a directional force. The shading Sisley applies to everything in the image emphasizes a serene day along the Loing. <br />Interpretation<br />An anonymous group banded together and united they held an exhibition in Paris that began the Impressionist movement. The year was 1874. This movement was founded by many artists, including Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, and many more. This new style was denied a viable painting style by the Salon and was refused to be awarded recognition by its members. The final exhibition that was held independently from the Salon was in 1886. The goal of the impressionists was to record reality in an objective manner through the transience of color and light. Though each artist had a different manner in which to portray the impressionistic goal, the impressionist style, as a whole, appeals to the tranquility and peaceful nature of the viewers, giving them a sense of contentment.<br />Alfred Sisley was an Englishman born in Paris. At a young age he was sent back to England by his father to find a career in business, but Sisley abhorred the idea and returned to Paris to become an artist. His family gave him their full support and he was able to meet Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Frédéric Bazille. He spent a great deal of time with these artists, painting landscapes. Soon after, he began to be influenced by the Impressionist movement, meeting Durand-Ruel through Pissarro and becoming a member of his “stable”. He began to believe himself to be a professional Impressionist and displayed his paintings many times throughout the late 1800’s. Beginning at an early age, Sisley had a fascination with the sky and snow, combining the two and making them huge parts of many of his paintings. Sisley used the goal of the Impressionists to express the way he viewed landscapes through his love for the sky, color, and light. The painting displays an impressive sky, taking up more than two-thirds of the canvas. Sisley uses many different shades of blue in the sky to demonstrate its transient nature and the way the light changes throughout the day. It is very difficult to exaggerate the sky, though Sisley made it a huge part of his painting. Today the town of Moret is barely any different, and is a relatively popular town to visit while in France. Sisley immortalized a town in the year 1888 with his painting, so as unlikely to change as Moret is, should it ever be altered, all a curious traveler would have to do is take a peek at Sisley’s artwork to see the history of the small town. To Alfred Sisley, this painting wasn’t just a source of income, but a way to share how he viewed the world. <br />Evaluation<br />Alfred Sisley’s work is a valuable asset to the entirety of the impressionist era. His art conveys the importance of nature. Sisley dramatized landscapes with his vast skies and picturesque snow; he captured the world in a masterful way. This painting makes me feel as if I am looking in on a town that in reality is thousands of miles away and more than a hundred years old. I personally value this work for its depiction of a small, otherwise overlooked town in France. When I began taking French and learning the language and the culture in the seventh grade I fell in love with it. France’s intricacies and livelihoods fascinated me – and still continue to do so. This homage to the beauty in a small town in France is therefore important to me. Sisley’s painting of Moret-sur-Loing also has cultural values. Sisley’s painting captures a moment in history for this small town in France. Every town, no matter how small, is an important cultural asset to the country it belongs in. The painting is also important to the culture of impressionism. Every impressionist painting helps with the understanding and defining of the movement. Impressionists valued nature that was often underappreciated, much like the impressionists were for quite some time. It was rare for heavily populated cityscapes to be impressionist. Alfred Sisley captured a moment in time for Moret. He created a quaint masterpiece, transporting viewers through time and space.<br />