Brandywine River Bridge ~ Inspired by Alfred Sisley

One of my favorite coffee table art books is Alfred Sisley, edited by MaryAnne Stevens.  On the cover is a beautiful bridge painting entitled, The Bridge of Villeneuve-la-Garenne.  A number of other bridge paintings are scattered throughout the book along with numerous river scenes that always catch my attention when I flip through it.  Sisley is known as a pure landscape painter.  He was inspired by his surroundings, living in Marly-le-Roi and Moret-sur-Loing, France, for significant periods in his life. 

Sisley was known for his rhythmical brushwork, vibrant colors and strong compositional balance.  There is an immediacy to the application of his paint, often his paintings completed in a day. 

In 1995, I had a little time to kill in the Wilmington, DE area.  I had heard that the Brandywine River was picturesque, so Jen and I spent a few hours driving around looking for painting material.  We stumbled upon this Wilmington bridge arching over the Brandywine River and it immediately reminded me of some of the paintings in my Alfred Sisley book

After reviewing some of the brushwork by Sisley in this book, especially in his painting The Provencher Watermill at Moret, I was inspired to paint this painting in a similar style.  I was going for strong lighting and implied movement in the water by applying the paint the way Sisley might have.  Sisley used white highlights to create movement in the water and create a sense of bright light.  I carried this technique over into the trees to create a rhythmic sense of light throughout the painting.

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I especially appreciate how Sisley dealt with strong architectural perspective, being structurally accurate while at the same time impressionistic in style.  When asked by Matisse “Who is a typical impressionist?” Pissarro named a single artist, Alfred Sisley!  He was appreciated by his fellow artists but struggled to get recognized during his lifetime.