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Alfred Sisley Biography

Alfred Sisley was born on October 30, 1839, in Paris, France. The Franco-German War fiscally destroyed the Sisley family, but Sisely however made a decision to make painting his full time profession and stuggled with poverty for the remainder of his life. Sisley perished in Moret sur Loing, France, in 1899.

Sisley joined other Impressionist artists including Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir in flouting the rigorous procedures of the cole des Beaux Arts (previously the Acadmie des Beaux-Arts, Paris) in favor of a more naturalistic and realistic description of his subjects.

The painting drew upon the soft tonality of Camille Corot as well as the sensational massing of Gustave Courbet, both of whom were a powerful influence on the artist. Sisley exhibited six landscapes at the very first Impressionist exhibit, and all were mainly criticized.

Of all of the Impressionist artists of the interval, Alfred Sisley was the purest landscape painter. He painted almost 900 oil paintings, less than the usual dozen of which were still lifes and only one or two of which were genre scenes. The rest were landscapes crossing in the forests of Fontainebleau and Louveciennes, London, to Wales and Moret sur Loing. He eschewed cityscapes, industrialization and individual figures for the serenity of a pastoral setting.

Beneath the patronage of the French baritone Jean-Baptiste Faure, Alfred Sisley could go back to England in 1874. While there, he painted a number of canvases at Hampton Court, including “Molesey Weir, Hampton Court” (1874; Edinburgh), that has been deemed unusually innovative and impulsive. “Molesey Weir” seems relaxed and casual, using its depiction of nude bathers having been performed with great economy of means.

Sisley shown at the next and third Impressionist exhibits, but it was not until he received a reference in Georges Rivire’s L’Impressioniste that the painter received any critical acclaim. Rivire wrote of Sisley’s capturing gift, taste, subtlety and tranquility.

Alfred Sisley described a classic perspective of nature where man, although present, is never the commanding force. He died of throat cancer on January 29, 1899, in Moret sur Loing, France.

Alfred Sisley Biography