The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
When the 45-year-old Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) painted the idyllic landscape near his home on the Ile-de-France entitled The Canal at Saint-Mammès (cover) his own circumstances were far from ideal. Although he had begun his painting career as the son of a wealthy British importer in Paris, the Franco-Prussian War of 1871-1872 had wiped out the family business. Sisley, already married and a father, was for the first time in his life forced to rely on his painting for income. The results were less than favorable. Sisley and his family moved often, Sisley ostensibly seeking better motifs, the family in reality more likely seeking cheaper accommodations. Until 1880 the family lived in small villages just west of Paris—Louveciennes, Marly-le-Roi, Sèvres—and he was able to stay in touch with his fellow Impressionists and with what was happening in Paris. In 1880, however, Sisley settled farther from Paris in an area to the southeast near the forest of Fontainebleau and close to the confluence of the Loing and Seine rivers. It was a beloved place; he had painted there as early as 1863 and 1865 with fellow Impressionists Monet, Renoir, and Bazille. Earlier in the century the Barbizon painters had worked there and made the area famous. The river and the forest renewed Sisley's inspiration. He remained there for the rest of his life.
Southgate MT. The Canal at Saint-Mammès. JAMA. 2007;298(7):718. doi:10.1001/jama.298.7.718