Activities: Sisley

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), 'The Banks of the Canal du Loing at Saint-Mammès', 1888

Detail from Alfred Sisley, 'The Banks of the Canal du Loing at Saint-Mammès' (1888)



Take a moment to look at the painting.

  • How does Sisley treat the water, clouds and shrubbery in the foreground of the painting?
  • How would you describe the overall mood of the image? Use visual evidence from the work to support your answer.



Sisley, Monet and Pissarro were close friends and worked together at Argenteuil, Bougival, Louveciennes and Marly. Compare the work of two of these artists under the following categories:

  • subject-matter
  • composition
  • brushstroke
  • treatment of light and shade



Recreate the effect... Texture

Sisley uses a variety of techniques and expressive brushwork in The Banks of the Canal du Loing at Saint-Mammès. Experiment with marks in painting, using different-sized brushes, colours, and textured papers. Try applying the paint using alternative materials e.g. sticks, cutlery, or your fingers!

Compose your own... Letter of Appeal to the Salon!

The Salon was the most prestigious place an artist could exhibit in the nineteenth century. In order to be selected, artists had to submit their work to a panel of judges who were renowned for their high standards and conservative taste. Understandably, many of Impressionist group's works were refused on the grounds that they were unconventional. Several of Sisley's paintings were accepted by the Salon, while a number were also refused. 

Imagine you have just received a letter from the Salon informing you that The Banks of the Canal du Loing at Saint-Mammès (or an alternative work from this resource) has not been accepted. Write a letter of response, explaining what you were trying to achieve by painting it the way you did, and why you think they should reconsider exhibiting works like yours at the Salon.