Description: In October 1877, Alfred Sisley moved to the town of Sèvres, just a few miles southwest of Paris, where he would remain for the next two years. Like Monet’s Argenteuil, Sèvres was far enough from the city to allow Sisley to paint rural landscapes, but close enough for him to stay in touch with friends and colleagues in Paris. His time in Sèvres proved to be a crucial transitional point in his career, as he shifted from the softer painting style of his earlier career to the more agitated brushwork that would define his later work.
Sisley painted The Quays of the Seine during Snow Season not long after he arrived in Sèvres. Like his friend Monet, he struggled in the late 1870s (Sisley would be evicted from his house in Sèvres by March 1879), finding collectors for his paintings scarce and a reliable income non-existent. In the face of such circumstances, Sisley identified with the poor and was increasingly drawn to working sections of the Seine, where barges line the water’s edge rather than pleasure boats. In the Dixon painting, an idle laborer with his hands shoved into his pockets walks along a tall fence on a deserted quay. The Pont de Sèvres, spanning the river, is in the background.