Press Releases

National Museum & Gallery acquires new painting by major Impressionist artist

The National Museums & Galleries of Wales is pleased to announce the acquisition of Storr Rock, Lady's Cove - le Soir, 1897, a Welsh seascape by one of the principal Impressionist artists, Alfred Sisley (1839-99).

Alfred Sisley is the only major Impressionist artist to work in Wales, spending July to September 1897 in Penarth, near Cardiff, and at Langland Bay on the Gower Peninsula. His paintings of south Wales are his only seascapes, and recall the atmospheric views of the Breton coast painted a few years before by his friend, the artist Claude Monet.

The Langland Bay paintings comprise of views along the beach at Lady's Cove (now called Rotherslade Bay) and of Storr's Rock. Sisley was fascinated the enormous, isolated outcrop of rocks close to the Osborne Hotel, where he stayed, and made five paintings depicting Storr Rock at different times of day and in varying weather conditions.

Storr Rock, Lady's Cove - le Soir, 1897 shows the north face of the rock at low tide on a sunny evening. The massive rock dwarfs the small figure of a boy dressed in a sailor suit. The beach is partly in shadow, with the soft evening light falling on the sea beyond flecked with sailing boats in the distance.

"We are absolutely delighted to add to what is one of the world's great collections of Impressionist art a second painting by the only major Impressionist artist to visit Wales," said Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art, NMGW. "In contrast to Sisley's view of the cliffs at Penarth on an overcast day, acquired ten years ago, this painting depicts the monumental Storr Rock on a golden afternoon in the late summer of 1897. We are particularly grateful to the National Art Collections Fund, as the purchase was made possible by an exceptionally generous grant of £100,000 from the Fund, comprising almost one third of the total cost.'

Brian Allen, Chairman of the National Art Collections Fund, said: "This luminous painting, one of Sisley's last works, will make a highly appropriate addition to the museum's collection. It joins another Welsh landscape scene by Sisley, The Cliff at Penarth, evening, low tide, bought with Art Fund assistance in 1993. "

Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Alun Pugh said: "This is very good news for art-lovers in Wales. The Welsh Assembly ensures that the National Museums & Galleries of Wales has a special budget to purchase important works of art such as this beautiful piece and I know that many people will take the opportunity to see this excellent example of impressionist art."

Alfred Sisley was born in Paris in 1839, where his father ran an import-export business. Both his parents were English, and he retained British nationality throughout his life. In 1857 his parents sent him to London for four years to learn business skills. Having no aptitude for business, on his return to Paris he enrolled in the studio of the Swiss painter Marc Gleyre where he met Monet and Renoir who were fellow students. An integral member of the evolving Impressionist movement, he remained true to the style throughout his life. In 1897 he and his long term partner Eugénie Lescouzec visited Britain, at the suggestion of one of his patrons who had business interests in south Wales, and were married in Cardiff during his stay in Penarth. The visit to Langland Bay was their honeymoon, though both were in declining health.

The painting was bought at the auction at Sotheby's in London on 21 June for a total of £326, 200 including premium and commission.

For further information please contact:
Julie Richards, Press Officer
National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff
Direct line: 00 44 (0)29 2057 3185 Mobile: 07876 476695