Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sisley: a beloved, less famous Impressionist

Alfred Sisley is known today as one of the minor impressionists and how dear he is to me! He was born to an English couple living in Paris and painted alongside Renoir, Monet and their generous friend Bazille. One of the fortunate painters, he was supported by his father, but the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 brought down the family silk business, and Alfred — who was no salesman— struggled for income until his death at not yet sixty. Claude Monet promised to look after Sisley's children, and shortly after his friend's death, organized a sale of Sisley's paintings which brought a great deal of money though the late artist could get little enough for his work before! The gentle Sisley exhibited at the first Impressionists exhibition in 1874 and was never disillusioned with the movement. One critic wrote “.. in the small, hard-working and carefree group made up of Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Bazille, in Fontainebleau, he represents cheerfulness, spirit, imagination."

I love this description of this painting by art historian Debra N. Mancoff: “Flood at Port-Marly — with its nuanced, blue-gray palette — serves to illustrate Alfred Sisley's command of the heavy, moisture-laden atmosphere and the clear reflections on the high, trembling waters.”

A print of one of his paintings of a snowy rural path hung by my writing desk for a long time.

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