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Mooring Lines, the Effect of Snow at Saint-Cloud

Alfred Sisley (French, 1839–1899)

Floods, ice storms, and snow were among the natural phenomena that attracted Alfred Sisley. The brutal winter of 1879 offered him many opportunities for inspiration; temperatures plummeted in mid-November, and the first two weeks of December saw lows around fourteen degrees Fahrenheit, causing rivers to freeze. Sisley made the most of these unusual meteorological conditions by working outdoors as much as possible. This small, thinly painted work depicting the river Seine near Sisley’s home in Sèvres, to the southwest of Paris, reflects a few frigid hours of work in the wintry landscape. Large anchors, their lines crisscrossing the foreground of the snowy shoreline, imply the presence of vessels behind the artist. Black-coated figures and a sailing vessel being loaded or unloaded in the center of the composition punctuate the otherwise delicate play of ice, water, and diluted daylight.

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