Early Snow at Louveciennes

about 1870–71
Alfred Sisley (British (active in France), 1839–1899)


54.9 x 73.7 cm (21 5/8 x 29 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Polly B. and Richard D. Hill Gallery (Gallery 253)





Louveciennes was one of the riverside towns northwest of Paris most closely associated with the Impressionist movement. Sisley moved there in 1871 after his home and studio in the neighboring town of Bougival were sacked by advancing Prussian troops. Representing snowy rooftops, smoking chimneys, and trudging pedestrians, this scene evokes the chilly atmosphere of rural France in the année terrible (terrible year) of the Franco-Prussian War.


Lower right: A. Sisley


By 1892, M. Picq-Véron, Ermont-Eaubonne, France [see note 1]; June 25, 1892, sold by Picq-Véron to Durand-Ruel, Paris (stock no. 2389); October 25, 1897, sold by Durand-Ruel to Hugo von Tschudi for the National Gallery, Berlin [see note 2]; 1936, exchanged by the National Gallery, Berlin, with Fritz Nathan, Galerie Nathan, St. Gallen, Switzerland; sold by Nathan, through Walter Feilchenfeldt, to Paul Rosenberg, Paris [see note 3]. 1937, with Raphael Gérard, Paris [see note 4]. 1939, Arthur Tooth and Sons, London; May 19, 1939, sold by Tooth to John Taylor Spaulding (b. 1870 - d. 1948), Boston; 1948, bequest of John Taylor Spaulding to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 3, 1948)

[1] Mr. Picq-Véron was a prominent collector of Sisley's work.

[2] See letters of December 9, 1967 and January 31, 1968 from Charles Durand-Ruel to Lucretia Geise of the MFA in curatorial files. Mr. von Tschudi was a close friend of the Durand-Ruel family, as well as an avid collector of Impressionist painting. He served as Director of the National Gallery, Berlin from 1896 to 1909.

[3] The Sisley was one of five paintings deaccessioned by the National Gallery and exchanged with dealer Fritz Nathan for Caspar David Friedrich's "Man and Woman Looking at the Moon." See Manet bis Van Gogh: Hugo von Tschudi und der Kampf um die Moderne (Berlin: Nationalgalerie, 1996), p. 106, cat. no. 32 and Esther Tisa Francini et al., Fluchtgut-Raubgut (Zurich, 2001), pp. 112-113. The latter source cites information from Fritz Nathan's son Peter, according to whom the Sisley was sold by his father to Paul Rosenberg, who then gave the painting to the MFA. This is at least partially incorrect, as the painting came to the MFA in the bequest of John Taylor Spaulding, who had purchased it from Tooth. Fritz Nathan did however state that he sold the painting through Feilchenfeldt to Rosenberg; see his Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben (Zurich, 1965), p. 90. At the time Spaulding purchased it from Tooth, it was planned for inclusion in a Sisley exhibition to be held at Paul Rosenberg's gallery in Paris in the spring of 1939, but whether Rosenberg continued to hold any ownership in the work at that time is not known.

[4] According to D. Corcoran of Reid and Lefevre (letter to the MFA, October 9, 1967), Gérard lent the painting to the exhibition "Pissarro and Sisley," Reid and Lefevre Gallery, London, January 1937, cat. no. 15. Whether Gérard owned it at this time is not certain. A letter from Dudley Tooth of Tooth and Sons (May 20, 1939) says that the painting "passed into my hands by the dealer who made the exchange" with the National Gallery in Berlin.

Credit Line

Bequest of John T. Spaulding