The River Scene Contact Information Claude Monet

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The Garden-scene - 'Sisley was here!'

with frame


The Garden Scene

The reverse of "The Garden Scene". Click above for a larger picture.

Ir photo

Ir photo


Sisley, written on the back of the Stretcher.

On the stretcher we find a most contradictory notation. ‘Sisley’ is written in pencil. Since the style of the painting has nothing to do with Alfred Sisley, it took a long time until we learnt why it was written here. This painting bears a ‘Signature’! At the bottom right corner, we find a tiny ‘Signature’, under the layer of thin, lilac colour! The painting was cleaned, and the old varnish was lifted off, without anybody discovering this writing. It was not found until the painting was being photographed in black and white.

Photo of Sisley signature

IR photo of Sisley signature

Lower left signature

Signature comparison - click for larger picture

From the beginning it was completely impossible to understand why the name ' Sisley ' was written on the stretcher. The three paintings has nothing to do with Alfred Sisley at all - But in one sensational way!

Alfred Sisley was here and this can never be wisked away!

This is of course extremely mysterious, but nevertheless an extremely important evidence of the authenticity of all the three paintings.

At the bottom right corner we have found the tiny, original Signature of Alfred Sisley!!

Written directly on the canvas and then overpainted by Monet. Now we can bareley see it covered under the thin lilac colour.

This painting as well as the River-Scene were extremely dirty and they had never been cleaned or taken out of the frames since they once were framed, as we believe, in 1899. (Neither had the Meadow-Scene but it was not as dirty at all.)

The painting was cleaned and the deep brown old varnish was cleaned away - without anybody discovering the Sisley Signature. It was not found until we studied a photo taken in black & white. Imagine what a surprise it was!

But suddenly the writing on the stretcher had got it´s explanation. So did the mysterious way the canvas was mounted into the frame.

The Signature was deliberately covered under the frame since Monet for sure wanted to honour the old friend who once signed the canvas.

To be able to hide the Sisley-signature they had take a frame, too small for the picture. Now 5 cm of the painting on the right hand border was covered by the frame and underneith is now the Sisley Signature.!

Now is also 'Sisley' written on the stretcher as we can see it today. Certainly because that what is hidden underneith the frame must not be forgotten in the future.

The stock-numbers that are written on the other stretchers are written in the left hand corner, but here Sisley is written in the corner and the stock-number is later written to the right, showing that Sisley for sure is written when it was framed.

We shall also bare in mind that when covering 5 cm of the painting, the very precisely built composition of the painting is disturbed. Remembering Monet´s pedantry we can easily understand that this is not done by mere chance.

Click HERE and we can easily understand what it means for the composition!

We know that the paintings were taken down from their stretchers and that they have been lying together in the famoused piles of unfinished paintings. When Suzanne dies in 1899 they are for certain saught out and mounted to new stretchers and framed - all at the same time.

We also know that Alfred Sisley passed away only one month earlier. What is more natural than Monet decides to save the signature, as we have seen, as a tribute to the old friend and fellow artist.

Lower left signature

Click HERE picture for pop-up with explanations.

Bottom left corner showing signature partly wiped out. Lower picture taken in IR light. Click for larger images.

Another Signature!!

In the left bottom corner we can easily see some fuzzy traces in black looking like if something has been wiped out.

When we lighten up the canvas in UV-light this is clearly beeing confirmed. Another signature has been taken away when the painting is still sitting in it´s frame. We know that Claude Monet had his paintings framed and that he made retouches on them afterwards. When the painting was framed this also overpainted Signature was obviously visible much enough to annoy Monet, and it was washed away.

We handed over the paintings to SKL Statens Kriminaltekniska Laboratorium, (Forensic Science Laboratory Linköping, Sweden) for investigation and photo. We are greatful for their efforts and happy for the excellent photos showing both Signatures and here compared to three other signatures from around 1886-1892. See signatures above.

Sisley vs Monet Dreams & Reality

The daily life of the two families was as different as night & day. We know that the Sisley family with their two children Pierre and Jeanne were regular visitors at the Monet household.

We also know...

Today we can settle the following facts:

a) All the three paintings are executed by the same artist.

b) The paintings have been taken away from their stretchers and put into a pile together with other paintings. Probably because of the death of Suzanne they are saved from destruction and tacked on new stretchers and framed by the same hand. The stretchers have not been used before and this also gives full evidence for the fact that the figures written on them really refer to these paintings.

c) We have TWO SISLEY SIGNATURES  - in the bottom left corner wiped out on the surface, (uv-photo), but preserved under the paint-layer, (IR-photo). In the bottom right corner - still possible to see and untouched under the thin paint layer. But today delibarately covered by the frame like a:

Closed Archaeological Find from around 1886.

This is extremely important. No one can deny that these signatures really exist. UV-light gives evidence for the fact that the whole painting is untouched since it was varnished except the left hand corner with the washed away signature which shows separation. We have also seen that this is done AFTER the the painting was framed - with the canvas still in the frame. Most probably in 1899, 13 years after it was painted.

The old friend Alfred Sisley has died as well as now Suzanne. The other Signature is preserved - you could even say 'buried' under the frame and the stretcher becomes a Tombstone with his name written on it. A fascinating symbolic and artistic act by Claude Monet worthy this old friend Alfred Sisley.

We have also seen that the signatures were written directly on the canvas and then overpainted by Claude Monet. (To see the UV-light Photo - Click HERE).

To see the UV-light Photo - Click picture

d) The preserved Signature is exactly the hand-writing of Alfred Sisley, written in the same manner as he signs 1885-92.

e) Two Sisley Signatures which no-one can deny that they really exist and that they are genuine and original.

How can we explain their existence? We assume that they are a small Practical Joke by Alfred Sisley - though a little tragic as well.

Deceased in 1899, without having obtained any greater recognition as a painter and in addition as a broken man. And furthermore: Who should wipe out one signature and keep the other? (See: Stuckey: ‘Claude Monet 1840-1926’, The Art Institute of Chicago 1995, p.231: 1899, May 1. Benefit auction for Sisley’s children held at the Georges Petit Gallery, Paris, thanks largely to Monet’s efforts. He donates ‘Sandvika’, Norway, to the benefit, the first of the Norway works to be offered for sale. The auction disperses the contents of Sisley’s studio. Purchasing a painting for himself, Monet keeps the bidding active.”).

Alfred Sisley never had any success as an artist during his lifetime. Nobody else would have any interest in writing his name.

Monet had tremendous success. He is also the one who wipes it out - or more possibly gives the order to have it taken away.

But he also gives the order to preserve the other signature!

The hidden Signature is certainly not covered by coincidence. On the contrary it is most deliberately done with negatif effect on the composition of the painting, by putting the canvas into a too small frame, of which a back lath is cut away to make it possible. (Click HERE to se the composition and how the back of the frame.)

The writing of Sisley on the stretcher as a reminder. It is easy to see all this even as a symbolic treatment.

Seen from the Sisley point of view this small joke and happening of his will give an echo in the world 140 years later and be the definite evidence that three paintings by his best friend Claude Monet will be identified as the Master-pieces they really are and this thanks to no one but Alfred Sisley!!


Stock numbers like the others, written in pencil on the stretcher: ‘453 followed by a dot, within a circle’.

What do these stocknumbers tell us? Of course that the paintings were sold to the same dealer. At two different times. Two? That´s it. The numbers 453 and 454, the number of the M.S., make it clear that these two were sold at the same time. Evidently this unknown dealer still had the Riverscene, though it must have been quite a long time ago since he bought it. To be exact – it was 116 paintings ago – certainly at least a year earlier.

It certainly is mysterious that the paintings still remain together. There might be a possible explanation – Suzanne – she is the link between the three  paintings and a possible reason of that they still stick together. Could it be that the person who sold them, probably a relative to Suzanne, regretted having sold them and exchanged them against another painting. We don´t know, but it really is remarkable that they still belong together. Don't you think so?


Written on the frame in pencil: ‘Creu’. See “Meadow scene” further on for more information.


E.Stal, Encadreur Du Musée Du Luxembourg

Label of the frame maker: ‘E.Stal, Encadreur Du Musée Du Luxembourg’. This frame is a fine piece of craftsmanship, see photo of detail.


It is remarkable that this canvas was varnished while still remaining in the frame. This is why the borders and the right part of the canvas, hidden under the frame, still have the original linen colour. The white (!) inner border was also partly covered with varnish. This varnish has turned brown today, in the way we have seen on the canvas.

In my opinion no dealer should ever have varnished a painting in its frame, (and certainly not hidden  10 cm of the right part), while the risk is obvious to damage the white border. Monet however practiced the habit retouching his paintings in their frames. Perhaps this painting had suffered from its violent ’storage’ and the paint surface must also have been damaged after the Sisley signature had been washes off. Monet chose to varnish it for a better finish. We know that the intention was that his paintings should remain unvarnished. We also know that almost every impressionist painting has been varnished, perhaps not always by dealers but also by Claude Monet himself.

Remarkable is also how even this frame was ’modernized’  - again the white inner border was originally gilt!  The gilt has even here been rubbed off for a modern ’Impressionist Look’ – exactly like it was rubbed off from the frame of The River Scene as well. 

P Moderne, Observe how the support edging has been cut away.

Written on the frame in pencil: ‘P Moderne’, already mentioned above, see under ‘River scene’ no 5. In this photo we can also see how the frame was altered, to make the canvas fit properly.


Click for larger image

Measure figure written on the canvas, like on the other two, ‘51x44’. Here is also something else written, unfortunately we are not able to read and understand what it means - do you? Picture taken in UV light. Also showing secret name and personal number for Einar Reiss (The former owner).

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