There’s a saying about the Beatles that goes, “Lennon was the ‘Soul’, Harrison was the ‘Spirit’, Paul was the ‘Heart’ and Ringo was the ‘Drummer’!
There’s also an ‘apocryphal‘ interview where, when the four of them were asked if Ringo Star was one of the best drummers in the world, Lennon replied, “He isn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles!”
This makes me laugh, as it’s just the kind of teasing, only close friends, can say, as they deride each other. I like to imagine the ‘Impressionists’ sitting around in Parisienne Cafes laughing and talking, not only of painting, but all manner of froth and spume, after a bottle or two of house wine and a few beers. So this got me thinking about another ‘Fab Four’ at the beginning of the ‘Impressionist movement’, Monet being the ‘Soul’, Pissaro it’s ‘Spirit’, Renoir the heart and Sisley the ‘Drummer’!
And for that I love Sisley, I love the fact that out of all the Impressionists he was the one who was unwavering, remaining true to the cause. He maintained the philosophy of ‘En Plein Air‘, painting outdoors right through his career, he didn’t take his work into the studio or deviate into any fanciful figurative ideals or experiment with rendering or colour theories. He kept a keen eye and a simple love of nature and the changing year. He was enthralled by his surroundings and painted the seasons with tenderness and sensitivity. ‘Small Meadows in Spring’ 1880, is breathtaking for all its simplicity and delicate light. It shows a girl walking through trees, among fresh, Spring grass on the banks of the Seine, with the low light and long shadows of an early Spring sun. He evokes the seasons perfectly, with a delighted brush and a sensitive touch. ‘Louveciennes‘ 1873, shows again his intuitive handling of colour and the seasons, this time Autumn.
And that’s the point of the drummer, to keep time, to keep the rhythm and keep it simple, that’s not to say it is without skill, on the contrary, simple is not easy. Sisley kept his rhythm with nature, his power of expression and colour intensifying over the years. He remained solidly consistent, and like Ringo, who may not have been the best drummer in the world, Sisley could certainly bang out his own rhythm on a canvas! And that’s more than enough for me! Cheers!