Artist
Alfred Sisley
French painter

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Alfred Sisley
French painter
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Birth Date

October 30, 1839

Death Date

January 29, 1899

cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

Sisley struggled with money throughout his entire adult life.

Which must have been made all the more frustrating by his growing up in a hyper-wealthy Paris based merchant family of English heritage. Dear ol' Dad was a silk merchant with a game shipping artificial flowers to South America. Alfred was shipped off to England at age 17 to beef up on all things business only to become gobsmacked by art. Especially works by John Constable and J.M.W. Turner. 

Traveling to London, even for just a few months, enamored Alfred of all things painting. Alfred made it clear on his return to Paris that he was all in for the art hustle, business be damned. It pissed off the parentals, but they didn't stand in his way. He joined the same atelier as MonetRenoir, and Bazille and with them founded the Impressionists. Life was good for a while, and Sisley carved a niche out for himself among the group by devoting his developing talent to landscapes. Things took a turn for the worse when he got bit by the love bug.

Marie Lescouezec came into the picture and unintentionally Yoko-ed the Sisley family unit. Alfred and Marie moved in together (and had a baby soon afterward) without first getting married. His father was furious, and he kicked Alfred's butt right off the gravy train. No bother, though, because Alfred was certain his finances would skyrocket with an internationally renowned painting career...that totally never happened. He'd exhibit and sell nothing, time and again. Then the Franco-Prussian War kicked off and Alfred suffered a hat trick of major issues in rapid succession. The war obliterated the Sisley family business and fortune, first off, so he couldn't trade in on the family credit. Then, a double dose of Prussian bombing destroyed Alfred's beloved painting getaway in Bougival along with ALL. OF. HIS. early paintings.

Bestie Monet lent a hand by introducing Alfred to art dealing maven Paul Durand-Ruel. Things were looking up as Sisley's works were moving regularly out of Durand-Ruel's showroom at a solid profit. But the promise of greater prices tomorrow wasn't enough for Alfred's bills today. He sold his paintings outright to Durand-Ruel to move more, albeit for less per piece. Durand-Ruel took Sisley's paintings to New York and sold them to Americans hungry for the Englishman's ethereal take on the French countryside. The art dealer cashed in and the artist and his family continued in near squalor. Marie stayed by his side, however, even though Alfred didn't pop the question and marry her until 31 years after they moved in together. Each died two years after finally getting married, just three months apart.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Alfred Sisley

Alfred Sisley (/ˈsɪsli/; French: [sislɛ]; 30 October 1839 – 29 January 1899) was an Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his life in France, but retained British citizenship. He was the most consistent of the Impressionists in his dedication to painting landscape en plein air (i.e., outdoors). He deviated into figure painting only rarely and, unlike Renoir and Pissarro, found that Impressionism fulfilled his artistic needs.

Among his important works are a series of paintings of the River Thames, mostly around Hampton Court, executed in 1874, and landscapes depicting places in or near Moret-sur-Loing. The notable paintings of the Seine and its bridges in the former suburbs of Paris are like many of his landscapes, characterized by tranquillity, in pale shades of green, pink, purple, dusty blue and cream. Over the years Sisley's power of expression and colour intensity increased.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Alfred Sisley.