Alfred Sisley was a renowned and notable French Impressionist painter, who is best known for his landscapes and is ranked amongst great impressionist artists such as Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir, who were also his close friends and associates.
Alfred Sisley was born on October 30, 1839, in Paris, France. His father, William Sisley was a prosperous English businessman who ran a silk business, while his mother, Felicia Sell, was a sophisticated and cultured music connoisseur. Although he hailed from a prolific English family, the Franco-German war had all but ruined the financial prospects of the Sisley family. Upon reaching the age of 18, young Alfred was sent to London to pursue an education in business studies, however, once in London, he encountered the works of the English landscape artists, the works of Richard Parkes Bonington, John Constable and J.M.W. Turner had a deep influence on him.
After four years of studying the dynamics of business, Alfred had grown tired and weary of ebbing his passion for art. He made his peace with prospects of poverty and adopted painting as a full time career. He returned from England, and enrolled himself at the prestigious, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in Paris, where he befriended other Impressionist artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet. In 1862, Alfred began attending the Atelier of notable Swiss artist, Marc-Charles Gabriel Gleyre. In 1868, he showcased his first landscape painting, ‘Avenue of Chestnut Trees’ at an art exhibition that took place at the prestigious Salon.
Shortly after, Alfred displayed six landscape paintings, including, ‘Autumn: Banks of the Seine’, at the First Impressionist Exhibition. In 1874, sponsored by the patronage of the prolific French baritone Jean-Baptiste Faure, Alfred moved to England, where he was commissioned to paint a series of paintings at the Hampton Court, such as ‘Molesey Wier, Hampton Court’. He showcased his work at the Second and later, the Third Impressionist Exhibitions. However, Alfred did not encounter fame and critical acclaim until he was mentioned in L’Impressioniste, a magazine run by Georges Riviere, praising his ‘charming talent, taste, subtlety and tranquility’.
Following this mention by an influential art critic, Alfred’s work began to garner attention and acclaim, and now, he is said to be finest and purest of all landscape artists in the world of Impressionist art of the 19th Century. Alfred painted a total of 900 oil paintings, which include very few still lives, and even fewer genre scenes. His art focused largely on landscapes, and his work has covered the scenic beauty spanning from London, Wales, Moret-sur-Loing to the serenity of the forests of Fontainebleau and Louveciennes.
Alfred Sisely became infected with the ailment of throat cancer, and after a prolonged struggle with his disease, he died on January 29, 1899, in Moret-sur-Loing, France. Some of his best known and highly acclaimed works include, ‘The Bridge at Moret-sur-Loing’, ‘The Lane of Poplars at Moret’, ‘Street in Moret’ and ‘Sand Heaps’ among many others.