Alfred Sisley - Waliser Küste im Nebel 1887 - Oil Postcard
Sisley is generally recognized as the most consistent of the Impressionists in his dedication to painting landscape en plein air (i.e., outdoors). He never deviated into figure painting and, unlike Renoir and Pissarro, never found that Impressionism did not fulfill his artistic needs. Among his most important works are a series of paintings of the River Thames, mostly around Hampton, executed in 1874, and various landscapes depicting places in or near Moret-sur-Loing. Sisley was born in Paris to affluent English 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, Sisley was sent to London to study for a career in business, but he abandoned it after four years and returned to Paris in 1861. Beginning in 1862 he studied at the atelier of Swiss artist Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre, where he became acquainted with Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Together they would paint landscapes en plein air rather than in the studio, in order to realistically capture the transient effects of sunlight. This approach, innovative at the time, resulted in paintings more colorful and more broadly painted than the public was accustomed to seeing. Consequently, Sisley and his friends initially had few opportunities to exhibit or sell their work. Their works were usually rejected by the jury of the most important art exhibition in France, the annual Salon. During the 1860s, though, Sisley was in a better position than some of his fellow artists, for he received an allowance from his father. In 1866 Sisley began a relationship with Eugénie Lesouezec (1834–1898; also known as Marie Lescouezec), a Breton living in Paris. The couple produced two children: son Pierre (born 1867) and daughter Jeanne (1869). At the time, Sisley lived not far from Avenue de Clichy and the Café Guerbois, the gathering place of many Parisian painters. In 1868 his paintings were accepted at the Salon, but the exhibition did not bring him any financial or critical success, and neither did any of the subsequent exhibitions. Molesey Weir – Morning, one of the paintings executed by Sisley on his trip to England in 1874 The Franco-Prussian War began in 1870, and as a result, Sisley's father's business failed. The painter's sole means of support became the sale of his works. For the remainder of his life, he would live in poverty, for his paintings only rose significantly in monetary value after his death. Occasionally, however, Sisley would be backed up by his patrons: this allowed him, among other things, to make a few brief trips to England. The first of these occurred in 1874 after the first independent Impressionist exhibition. The result of a few months spent near London was a series of nearly twenty paintings of the Upper Thames near Molesey, which was later described by art historian Kenneth Clark as "a perfect moment of Impressionism." Until 1880, Sisley lived and worked in the countryside west of Paris; then Sisley and his family moved to a small village near Moret-sur-Loing, close to the forest of Fontainebleau where the painters of the Barbizon school had worked earlier in the century. Here, as art historian Anne Poulet has said, "the gentle landscapes with their constantly changing atmosphere were perfectly attuned to his talents. Unlike Monet, he never sought the drama of the rampaging ocean or the brilliantly colored scenery of the Côte d'Azur." In 1881 Sisley made one more brief voyage to England. In 1897 Sisley and his partner visited Wales and were finally married in Cardiff Register Office on 5 August. They stayed at Penarth, where he painted at least six oils of the sea and the cliffs. In mid-August they moved to the Osborne Hotel on the Gower Peninsula, where he produced at least eleven oil-paintings in and around Rotherslade Bay. They returned to France in October. This was Sisley's last voyage to his ancestral homeland, and the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff now possesses two of his Welsh oilpaintings. The following year he applied for French citizenship but was refused; a second application was made and supported by a police report, however illness intervened, with Sisley remaining English till his death. The painter died in Moret-sur-Loing at the age of 59, just a few months after the death of his wife. Sisley's student works are lost. His earliest known work, Lane near a Small Town, is believed to have been painted around 1864. His first landscape paintings are sombre, coloured with dark browns, greens, and pale blues. They were often executed at Marly and Saint-Cloud. Little is known about Sisley's relationship with the paintings of J. M. W. Turner and John Constable, which he may possibly have seen in London, although these artists have been suggested as an influence on his development as an Impressionist painter,as have Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Among the Impressionists Sisley has been overshadowed by Monet, although his work most resembles that of Camille Pissarro. Described by art historian Robert Rosenblum as having "almost a generic character, an impersonal textbook idea of a perfect Impressionist painting", his work strongly invokes atmosphere and his skies are always very impressive. His concentration on landscape subjects was the most consistent of any of the Impressionists. Among Sisley's best-known works are Street in Moret and Sand Heaps, both owned by the Art Institute of Chicago, and The Bridge at Moret-sur-Loing shown at Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Allée des peupliers de Moret (The Lane of Poplars at Moret) has been stolen three times from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nice. Once in 1978 when on loan in Marseille (recovered a few days later in the city's sewers), again in 1998 (in which the museum's curator was convicted of the theft and jailed for five years along with two accomplices) and finally in August 2007. On 4 June 2008, the French National Police recovered it and three other stolen paintings from inside a van in Marseilles. Selected Works - Lane near a Small Town (c. 1864) Avenue of Chestnut Trees near La Celle-Saint-Cloud (c. 1865) Village Street in Marlotte (1866) Avenue of Chestnut Trees near La Celle-Saint-Cloud (1867) Still Life with Heron (1867) The Seine at St. Mammes (1867–69) View of Montmartre from the cite des Fleurs (1869) Early Snow at Louveciennes (c. 1871–72) Boulevard Heloise, Argenteuil (1872) Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne (1872) Ferry to the Ile-de-la-Loge - Flood (1872) Footbridge at Argenteuil (1872) La Grande-Rue, Argenteuil (c. 1872) Square in Argenteuil (Rue de la Chaussee) (1872) Chemin de la Machine Louveciennes (1873) Factory in the Flood, Bougival (1873) Rue de la Princesse, Louveciennes (1873) Sentier de la Mi-cote, Louveciennes (1873) Among the Vines Louveciennes (1874) Bridge at Hampton Court (1874) The Lesson (1874) Molesey Weir - Morning (1874) Regatta at Hampton Court (1874) Regatta at Molesey (1874) Snow on the Road Louveciennes (1874) Under the Bridge at Hampton Court (1874) Street in Louveciennes (Rue de la Princesse) (1875) Small Meadows in Spring (c. 1881) Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that began as a loose association of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence in the 1870s and 1880s. The name of the movement is derived from the title of a Claude Monet work, Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant), which provoked the critic Louis Leroy to coin the term in a satiric review published in Le Charivari. Characteristics of Impressionist paintings include visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles. The emergence of Impressionism in the visual arts was soon followed by analogous movements in other media which became known as Impressionist music and Impressionist literature. Impressionism also describes art created in this style, but outside of the late 19th century time period. Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface (support base). In art, the term describes both the act and the result, which is called a painting. Paintings may have for their support such surfaces as walls, paper, canvas, wood, glass, lacquer, clay or concrete. Paintings may be decorated with gold leaf, and some modern paintings incorporate other materials including sand, clay, and scraps of paper. Painting is a mode of expression and the forms are numerous. Drawing, composition or abstraction and other aesthetics may serve to manifest the expressive and conceptual intention of the practitioner. Paintings can be naturalistic and representational (as in a still life or landscape painting), photographic, abstract, be loaded with narrative content, symbolism, emotion or be political in nature. Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface (support base). In art, the term describes both the act and the result, which is called a painting. Paintings may have for their support such surfaces as walls, paper, canvas, wood, glass, lacquer, clay or concrete. Paintings may be decorated with gold leaf, and some modern paintings incorporate other materials including sand, clay, and scraps of paper. A portion of the history of painting in both Eastern and Western art is dominated by spiritual motifs and ideas; examples of this kind of painting range from artwork depicting mythological figures on pottery to Biblical scenes rendered on the interior walls and ceiling of The Sistine Chapel, to scenes from the life of Buddha or other scenes of eastern religious origin. Among the continuing and current directions in painting at the beginning of the 21st century are Monochrome painting, Hard-edge painting, Geometric abstraction, Appropriation, Hyperrealism, Photorealism, Expressionism, Minimalism, Lyrical Abstraction, Pop Art, Op Art, Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Neo-expressionism, Collage, Intermedia painting, Assemblage painting, Computer art painting, Postmodern painting, Neo-Dada painting, Shaped canvas painting, environmental mural painting, traditional figure painting, Landscape painting, Portrait painting, and paint-on-glass animation. Developments in Eastern painting historically parallel those in Western painting, in general, a few centuries earlier. African art, Islamic art, Indian art, Chinese art, and Japanese art each had significant influence on Western art, and, eventually, vice-versa. The oldest known paintings are at the Grotte Chauvet in France, claimed by some historians to be about 32,000 years old. They are engraved and painted using red ochre and black pigment and show horses, rhinoceros, lions, buffalo, mammoth or humans often hunting. However the earliest evidence of painting has been discovered in two rock-shelters in Arnhem Land, in northern Australia. In the lowest layer of material at these sites there are used pieces of ochre estimated to be 60,000 years old. Archaeologists have also found a fragment of rock painting preserved in a limestone rock-shelter in the Kimberley region of North-Western Australia, that is dated 40 000 years old. There are examples of cave paintings all over the world—in France, Spain, Portugal, China, Australia, India etc. In Western cultures oil painting and watercolor painting are the best known media, with rich and complex traditions in style and subject matter. In the East, ink and color ink historically predominated the choice of media with equally rich and complex traditions. Different types of paint are usually identified by the medium that the pigment is suspended or embedded in, which determines the general working characteristics of the paint, such as viscosity, miscibility, solubility, drying time, etc.