Even though Alfred Sisley was among the founding members of the Impressionist group, his reputation has only recently started to match his achievements. A prolific landscapist, whose technique was developed through his close association with Claude Monet and Frédéric Bazille, Sisley produced a number of still lives that bear the characteristics of his oeuvre. Heron with Spread Wings makes clear these concerns: the effects of light hitting surfaces, the commonplace or the everyday, and the tension between the factual record and subjective experience.
Sisley painted this beautiful still lifealongside Bazille during a session that also included fellow Impressionist Auguste Renoir. This context makes clear to us something of the way in which the act of painting was a social activity for the Impressionists, and of the way in which the principles and techniques of the avant-garde group were formulated through these social interactions.