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Alfred Sisley was a French impressionist painter, primarily of landscapes, and was a friend of Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
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Alfred Sisley was born on October 30, 1839 in Paris. The Franco-German War financially ruined the Sisley family but Alfred still decided to make painting his full-time career and stuggled with poverty for the rest of his life. He was an associate of Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He died in 1899.
Born October 30, 1839, in Paris, France. The consummate landscape painter, Alfred Sisley was born to English parents and made his first trip to London in 1857. It was there that he was inspired by the work of such English landscape painters as Turner, Constable, and Bonnington. He joined other Impressionist artists such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir in flouting the strict methods of the École des Beaux-Arts in favor of a more naturalistic and realistic portrayal of his subjects.
In 1868, Alfred Sisley's landscape, Avenue of Chestnut Trees near La Celle Saint-Cloud (Southampton), was shown at the prestigious Salon art exhibition. The painting drew upon the soft tonality of Camille Corot and the dramatic massing of Courbet, both of whom were a strong influence on the artist. Sisley displayed six landscapes at the first Impressionist exhibition, and all were largely criticized. Like many of his contemporaries, Alfred Sisley was condemned for his loose and apparently unfinished execution in such works as Autumn: Banks of the Seine near Bougival (1873; Montreal).
Of all of the Impressionist artists of the period, Alfred Sisley was the purest landscape painter. He painted nearly 900 oil paintings and fewer than a dozen were still lifes and only one or two were genre scenes. The remainder were landscapes spanning from the forest of Fontainebleau and Louveciennes, London to Moret and Wales. He eschewed cityscapes, industrialization and human figures for the serenity of a pastoral setting.
Under the patronage of the French baritone Jean-Baptiste Faure, Alfred Sisley was able to return to England in 1874. While there, he painted a series of canvases at Hampton Court, including Molesey Weir, Hampton Court (1874; Edinburgh), which are remarkably fresh and spontaneous. The painting appears relaxed and informal, and the figures of the naked bathers are executed with great economy of means.
Alfred Sisley exhibited at the second and third Impressionist exhibitions, but it wasn’t until he received a mention in Georges Rivière's L'Impressioniste that the painter received any critical acclaim. Rivière wrote of Sisley's charming talent, his taste, subtlety, and tranquility. Alfred Sisley portrayed a timeless view of nature in which man, although present, is never the controlling force. He died on January 29, 1899, of throat cancer.
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Derived from Claude Monet's piece entitled Impression, the term "impressionism" was created to describe the work of a select group of Parisian painters in the late 19th century. With their thin brush strokes and explosion of color and lighting on mundane subjects, impressionists painters like Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Alfred Sisley confounded critics, defied conventions, and sparked scandal. A century and a half later, they are among the most revered and influentional artists of all time.
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