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Alfred Sisley 
(1839-1899)

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Alfred Sisley was born in Paris on 30th October 1839, the son of a wealthy British businessman. Between 1857 and 1861 he lived in London, preparing for a career in commerce. In 1862, having decided to become a painter, he entered the Atelier Gleyre in Paris where he met Monet, Renoir, and Bazille. The three artists became friends, and often worked together in the open air in the Forest of Fontainebleau, a Parisian suburb. 

Together with his friends, Sisley came to be one of the founders of Impressionism. 

  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Portrait of William Sisley (1864). Orsay Museum, Paris. 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Portrait of Alfred Sisley.

Paraguay 1968. Alfred Sisley. "Snow in Louveciennes".

Sisley first sent his paintings to the Paris Salon in 1866 and subsequently exhibited there in 1868 and 1870. During the Franco-Prussian War he lost all his possessions when the Prussian army overran the family’s estate in Bougival, west of Paris. 

After the war his father was ruined, so the artist was left in desperate poverty for many years. Until 1880, he lived and worked in the countryside west of Paris, around Marly and Louveciennes, especially at Villeneuve-la-Garenne, Bougival and Port-Marly. 

  • Paraguay 1968. "Snow in Louveciennes". (1870). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA. 

The flood of 1876 at Port-Marly became the subject of a large series of his landscapes, among which are: "Flood at Port-Marly", "Boat in the Flood at Port-Marly", both in 1876. 

From 1880, onwards he painted almost exclusively landscapes depicting the banks of the Seine and the Loing at Saint-Mammès and Sablon and Moret-sur-Loing, the town where he lived from 1889 until his death ten years later. 

France 1975. Alfred Sisley. "The Banks of Loing".

Monaco 1974. Alfred Sisley. "Flood at Port-Marly".

Romania 1974. Alfred Sisley. "Church in Moret-Sur-Loing".

Although Sisley's work attracted little attention in his lifetime, its importance has since been recognized. Sisley's gentle, idyllic paintings, mainly of scenes near Paris, reveal the lifelong influence of Camille Corot, especially in their soft, harmonious colours. 

Sisley did not live to see his talent recognized. He had contributed to the Impressionist exhibitions of 1874, 1876, 1877 and 1882, and also exhibited at the Durand-Ruel galleries in Paris and New York. 

Every year, starting from 1892, his paintings were on show at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. 

Several of his works were displayed by Georges Petit at international exhibitions, but his efforts brought him neither fame nor financial security. 

New Caledonia 1986. "Bridge of Moret". Monaco 1989. Alfred Sisley. "Regatta at Molesey".

The failure of his retrospective exhibition at Georges Petit’s in 1897, to which he had been looking forward and for which he had selected his best pictures, was an especially hard blow to the artist. Backed by one of his patrons, Francois Depeau, a Rouen manufacturer, Sisley left for the south of England. From May to October 1897 he stayed at Penarth, a seaside resort near Cardiff, and painted views of rocky seashores. That same year he married Marie Louise Adélaïde Eugéne Lescouezec (1834-1898), who gave birth to his two children, Pierre and Jeanne.  On January 29, 1899 the artist died in his home in Moret.

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