The Seine at Bougival Alfred Sisley Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Bougival is a country village area 15km to the west of Paris that was popular with Impressionist artists in the 1870s. Alfred Sisley painted landscapes depicting this part of France many times, and The Seine at Bougival proved to be one of his favourite scenes.

The original painting of this title measures 46cm by 61cm and is on display in the Met Gallery on Fifth Ave in New York. It was created en plein air in 1876 and is an oil on canvas work which is typical of Sisley's work. The artist's faint signature can be seen at the bottom, right corner of the painting. The stretch of the Seine that flows through Bougival is the subject of several Impressionist paintings. A popular countryside haunt of Pissarro, Renoir and Monet, Bougival features in multiple oil paintings by Impressionist artists of the 19th century. The village attracted the Impressionists who were drawn to the light, space a relaxed atmosphere of the village. Pissarro and Monet both created artworks bearing the Seine at Bougival title like Sisley’s piece but each features a different outlook over the same section of the river.

Sisley also painted Boats at Bougival, an equally well-known landscape by the artist depicting barges on the water. Sisley's The Seine at Bougival captures a leisurely scene on a sunny day. Showing a peaceful scene, the painting is calm and pleasant to look at. With a bright blue sky, soft green grass and long shadows there is a strong feeling of summer in the scene. Positioned in the centre of the piece are a woman and a small child seated in the long grass perhaps enjoying an afternoon picnic together. The colour red is cleverly used to create warmth in the painting seen on the roof of the small building and in the flower bed.

A feeling of calm is created with the flatness of the water and the gentleness of the clouds. The curve of the river directs the eye towards the low hills in the background, and the trees in the foreground form a ‘V’ shape that also pulls the viewer’s eye towards the background. Sisley's brushstrokes are short and firm in The Seine at Bougival and can be seen clearly in the tree foliage, clouds and grass. This method of applying oil paint can be seen in Monet’s work too and is quite typical of the Impressionist style. Sisley's brushstrokes are firmer and tighter than Monet's however, creating less of a free-flowing feel.