Chemin de la Machine, Louveciennes

Alfred Sisley
Chemin de la Machine, Louveciennes
en 1873
huile sur toile
H. 54,5 ; L. 73,0 cm.
Donation de Joanny Peytel, 1914
© Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Alfred Sisley (1839 - 1899)

The road disappearing into the distance is one of Sisley's favourite themes. It often links the foreground with the background, and helps "pierce" the space, resulting in some very successful perspective effects. Here, the illusion of three-dimensional space is particularly spectacular thanks to the road stretching into the distance, perpendicular to the surface of the painting. The row of trees gives rhythm to the composition, and accentuates the impression of depth, whilst an interplay of lines is achieved through the vertical trunks, echoed by the horizontal lines of the shadows. The slight rise in the road is used to create a vanishing point slightly off centre, and to obtain a plunging view over the sunlit background. This structure allows the painter to organise the space in his landscape, while maintaining the tiers of the different planes. Finally, as was often the case, Sisley humanises his landscape by introducing a few small figures in the style of Jongkind.
The Chemin de la Machine, Louveciennes, is reminiscent of the famous Avenue of Middelharnis (London, The National Gallery) painted by Hobbema in 1689 which Sisley had seen when he stayed in London as a young man. But other influences can be detected in this painting. The sense of the construction is without doubt a legacy from Corot, while the predominance of the sky comes from the 17th-century Dutch landscape masters like Ruysdael. However it is the luminosity of the countryside of the Ile-de-France that Sisley captures so magnificently.

Artwork not currently exhibited in the museum