Alfred Sisley (; French: [sislɛ]; 30 October 1839 – 29 January 1899) was an Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his life in France, but retained British citizenship. He was the most consistent of the Impressionists in his dedication to painting landscape en plein air (i.e., outdoors). He deviated into figure painting only rarely and, unlike Renoir and Pissarro, found that Impressionism fulfilled his artistic needs.
Alfred Sisley (; French: [sislɛ]; 30 October 1839 – 29 January 1899) was an Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his excitement in France, but retained British citizenship. He was the most consistent of the Impressionists in his dedication to painting landscape en plein air (i.e., outdoors). He deviated into figure painting unaccompanied rarely and, unlike Renoir and Pissarro, found that Impressionism fulfilled his artistic needs.
Among his important works are a series of paintings of the River Thames, mostly going on for Hampton Court, executed in 1874, and landscapes depicting places in or near Moret-sur-Loing. The notable paintings of the Seine and its bridges in the former suburbs of Paris are in imitation of many of his landscapes, characterized by tranquillity, in weak shades of green, pink, purple, dusty blue and cream. Over the years Sisley’s knack of ventilation and colour sharpness increased.
Sisley was born in Paris to well-off British parents. His father, William Sisley, was in the silk business, and his mother, Felicia Sell, was a cultivated music connoisseur.
In 1857, at the age of 18, Alfred Sisley was sent to London to chemical analysis for a career in business, but he deserted it after four years and returned to Paris in 1861. From 1862, he studied at the Paris École des Beaux-Arts within the atelier of Swiss player Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre, where he became acquainted next Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Together they would paint landscapes en plein air rather than in the studio, in order to occupy the transient effects of sunlight realistically. This approach, innovative at the time, resulted in paintings more colourful and more broadly painted than the public was accustomed to seeing. Consequently, Sisley and his contacts initially had few opportunities to exhibit or sell their work. Their works were usually rejected by the judges of the most important art exhibition in France, the annual Salon. During the 1860s, though, Sisley was in a enlarged financial position than some of his fellow artists, as he traditional an money from his father.
In 1866, Sisley began a attachment with Eugénie Lescouezec (1834–1898; usually known as Marie Lescouezec), a Breton vibrant in Paris. The couple had two children: son Pierre (born 1867) and daughter Jeanne (1869). At the time, Sisley lived not far away from Avenue de Clichy and the Café Guerbois, the gathering-place of many Parisian painters.
In 1868, his paintings were trendy at the Salon, but the exhibition did not bring him financial or necessary success; nor did subsequent exhibitions.
In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War began; as a result, Sisley’s father’s thing failed, and the painter’s sole means of hold became the sale of his works. For the remainder of his sparkle he would live in poverty, as his paintings did not rise significantly in monetary value until after his death. Occasionally, however, Sisley would be backed by patrons, and this allowed him, among additional things, to make a few brief trips to Britain.
The first of these occurred in 1874, after the first independent Impressionist exhibition. The repercussion of a few months spent close London was a series of approximately twenty paintings of the Upper Thames close Molesey, which was later described by art historian Kenneth Clark as “a absolute moment of Impressionism.”
Until 1880, Sisley lived and worked in the country west of Paris; then he and his relations moved to a little village near Moret-sur-Loing, close to the forest of Fontainebleau, where the painters of the Barbizon intellectual had worked earlier in the century. Here, as art historian Anne Poulet has said, “the gentle landscapes taking into account their all the time changing make public were perfectly attuned to his talents. Unlike Monet, he never sought the performing arts of the rampaging ocean or the brilliantly colored scenery of the Côte d’Azur.”
In 1881, Sisley made a second brief voyage to Great Britain.
In 1897, Sisley and his co-conspirator visited Britain again, and were finally married in Wales at Cardiff Register Office upon 5 August. They stayed at Penarth, where Sisley painted at least six oils of the sea and the cliffs. In mid-August they moved to the Osborne Hotel at Langland Bay upon the Gower Peninsula, where he produced at least eleven oil paintings in and as regards Langland Bay and Rotherslade (then called Lady’s Cove). They returned to France in October. This was Sisley’s last voyage to his ancestral homeland. The National Museum Cardiff possesses two of his oil paintings of Penarth and Langland.
The in imitation of year Sisley applied for French citizenship, but was refused. A second application was made and supported by a police report, but weakness intervened, and Sisley remained a British national until his death.
He died on 29 January 1899 of throat cancer in Moret-sur-Loing at the age of 59, a few months after the death of his wife. His body was buried similar to that of his wife at Moret-sur-Loing Cemetery.