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July 22, 2022

Acquisition: Alfred Sisley

Alfred Sisley

Alfred Sisley
On the Banks of the Loing: The Cart, 1890
etching with bitten tone and burnishing on laid paper
plate: 14.7 x 22.5 cm (5 13/16 x 8 7/8 in.)
sheet: 22.1 x 30.8 cm (8 11/16 x 12 1/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund

Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley (1839–1899) was dedicated to capturing the landscape while working outdoors, in plein-air. The National Gallery of Art has acquired a rare set of four etchings that depict views of the Loing River, southwest of Paris, that join two other prints in the collection, making the National Gallery the only institution outside of Paris to have impressions of all six of Sisley’s prints, in addition to seven paintings depicting various French vistas.

Sisley made and exhibited impressions of these four etchings in Paris in 1890 at the request of the Société des peintres-graveurs français, a group that explored printmaking as an original art form and a means of personal expression. It appears that Sisley used an etching needle to sketch these landscapes directly into the waxy, acid-resistant ground of prepared plates outside, a practice that paralleled his plein-air painting practice. He then brought the plates back to his studio to “bite” them with acid and continue modifying the compositions; the etchings were printed in a very small number of impressions. Although Sisley created two lithographs in the 1890s, these four charming views of the Loing River were his only use of etching.

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