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Alfred Sisley

 (1839 - 1899)
Alfred Sisley was active/lived in France.  Alfred Sisley is known for Impressionist seasonal landscape painting.

Alfred Sisley

    siz-lee    click to hear

Biography from the Archives of askART

An impressionist landscape painter early influenced by the Barbizon School, Alfred Sisley was born in Paris to English parents.  The father was a successful business person whose company traded with American southern states.  His parents sent him to London to train for business, but disliking that pursuit, Sisley, in 1862, returned to Paris and, with his family's support, enrolled at the Académie Gleyre.  There he met future impressionists Jean Renoir, Camille Pizarro, and Claude Monet, and they met at the Café Guerbois with Paul Manet. 

During these conversations, Sisley took the rule of neutral mediator and did paintings that showed strong Barbizon School influence, especially of Camille Corot.  But during these discussions, Monet developed his theories that evolved into Impressionism.  After the 1863 exhibition at the Salon des Refusés where Monet's paintings and those works similar to Monet's received the description of Impressionists from a critic, Sisley left Paris with Monet, and they lived in the suburbs and painted together.

At first Sisley's paintings from these excursions seemed much influenced by the Barbizon painting of Camille Corot and Charles Daubigny, and exhibiting in 1867 at the Paris Salon, he still showed much Barbizon influence.  However, by 1870, his paintings had the quickly executed, short brushstrokes of Impressionism, but his work differed from Monet's because he was much more interested in depicting realistic images rather than in Monet's technique of images dissolving into light and atmospherics.  Sisley loved cloud-filled skyscapes, shimmering water and foliage changing colors with the season, and he spent much time in the area of Ile-de-France because it offered the images he loved. 

During the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871, Sisley spent time in London and through Pizarro, met the art dealer Durand-Ruel, with whom he formed a marketing agreement for his work.  Because of the war, Sisley's father had lost his business, and without funds, Sisley, for the first time, became anxious to sell his paintings.  To that point, Sisley had not been interested in selling his paintings, and because of pursuing this activity later than his peers, his prices were lower than their throughout his life.

In 1876, he moved to the small village of Moret-sur-Loing, and to the house where he died of cancer twenty-three years later.  The town dated to medieval times and changed little in appearance from that period.  Because of its charm, Sisley's painting friends including Monet and Renoir also loved to work in that location.

By the time of his move to Moret-sur-Loing, Sisley was part of the Impressionist painting group and exhibited with them in 1874, 1876, 1877 and 1882.  Monet had the dominating influence on him, but from Corot, he retained an ongoing interest in skyscapes and seasonal changes of color.  For Sisley, snowscenes also became a favorite subject.

Sources include:

Biography from the Archives of askART
Alfred Sisley was a French Impressionist painter who in 1862 joined the studio of Charles Gleyre, which Monet, Renoir and Frederic Bazille also attended.  When Gleyre's studio closed in 1863, Sisley went on to paint with Monet, Renoir and Bazille.  His first paintings reflect the Barbizon school traditions but with independent style.  Sisley's paintings were accepted for the Salons of 1866, 1868, 1870 and he was a member of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Throughout his painting career, Sisley was principally a landscape painter, notable, during a time while others Impressionists were concerning themselves with the human figure.  Sisley did not concern himself with theory, yet his opinions written to the critic Adolphe Travernier in 1893 are relevant to the development of modern art.  This quotation serves  as an example of his thoughts:

"The animation of the canvas is one of the hardest problems of painting.  To give life to the work of art is certainly on of the most necessary tasks of the true artist.  Everything must serve this end; form , colour, surface.  The artist's impression is the life-giving factor, and only this impression can free that of the spectator.  And though the artist must remain master of his craft, the surface, at times raised to the highest pitch of liveliness, should transmit to the beholder the sensation which possesses the artist."

Biography from Modern Art Dealers
Alfred Sisley was born in Paris in 1839, the son of a well off British dealer established in Paris.  His father sent him to London, where he worked in the family business from 1857 to 1861, but Sisley intends to be a painter rather than a dealer.  In spite of his father's wishes he entered the School of Fine Arts of Paris in 1862, and also the workshop of Charles Gleyre, where he became friendly with Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet and Frederic Bazille.

In 1864, at the same time as his friends, he left the School of Fine Arts the moment Charles Gleyre ceased teaching there.  He devoted himself to painting in open-air in the area of Fontainebleau, at Chailly-en-Bière, then in Marlotte from 1865 to 1866.  At this time he was living off the financial support of his father.

From his very beginnings, Sisley devoted himself primarily to landscape painting and to lively representations of village streets or Parisian rivers.

In June 1866, he married Eugènie Lescouezec, a girl of a good family, a model and florist, and they had two children together.  Auguste Renoir composed a portrait of them in 1868, a painting entitled The engaged couple (known as Alfred Sisley and His Wife).

Alfred Sisley spent the last years of his life in simplicity and died in 1899 without having been granted French nationality, which he asked for since 1895.

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About  Alfred Sisley

Born:  1839 - Paris, France
Died:   1899 - Moret-sur-Loing, France
Known for:  Impressionist seasonal landscape painting