Alfred Sisley
Boat in the Flood at Port Marly

Boat in the Flood at Port Marly
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
Boat in the Flood at Port Marly
1876
Oil on canvas
H. 61; W. 50.5 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski


The Flooding in Port Marly

La barque pendant l'inondation, Port-Marly [Boat in the Flood at Port Marly]


In 1874, Sisley moved to Marly-le-Roi and became the chronicler of this village situated a few kilometres to the west of Paris. His most beautiful motif was when the Seine burst its banks and flooded the neighbouring village of Port-Marly in the spring of 1876. The artist produced six paintings of this event. He captured the great expanse of water with moving reflections that transformed the peaceful house of a wine merchant into something mysterious and poetic. Two of these paintings are in the Musée d'Orsay.

In this version, Sisley positions the house at an angle, leaving a large amount of space for sky and water. For the flooded area he used light colours and broad, brushstrokes placed side by side. Conversely, he expressed the solidity of the house and its pink and yellow walls, with very precise brushwork. Thus, the stability and permanence of the solid elements contrast with the fleeting movements of the water, which at any moment might recede.
The presence of several human figures in boats reinforces the impression of an ordinary day transformed by "a devastating invasion where the familiar, everyday, usual aspect of things was irresistibly substituted by a new, unexpected, enigmatic and disturbing expression" (Paul Jamot, La peinture au musée du Louvre, Ecole Française XIXe siècle, 1928).


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