Alfred Sisley was born in 1839 to an affluent British family living in Paris. Throughout his life, he had a foot in two worlds. That alone established him as an outsider among his peers. Along with Renoir and Monet, they became known as" The Impressionists.”
As a young man, he had the advantage of a stipend from his family to help with his studies and art. After his father died and the ensuing material ruin, his life became a long struggle against adversity and necessity. Among the Impressionists, Sisley has been overshadowed by Monet. His concentration on landscapes as a subject was the most consistent of any of the artists of the period.
His intense singular vision and love of nature are evident in every brushstroke. Painting almost daily, in all conditions ,he captured the seasons like no other artist. Looking through our modern lens they look like pretty paintings, but at the time his style was considered very radical and a departure from everything created to date. Until 1880, Sisley lived and worked in the countryside west of Paris. He moved his family to a small village near Moret-sur-Loing. Here he found the gentle landscapes with their constantly changing atmosphere were perfectly attuned to his talents. Unlike Monet, he did not seek our dramatic coastlines or brilliantly colored scenery. He did not deviate from his focus of interpreting landscapes with all of the subtlety and nuances found in nature. His paintings of snow and fog are particularly unique in art history. Every painting tells a story and allows us a glimpse into the pre-industrialized time in that region. His work was not well accepted within the art establishment , was rejected by the Salons and Galleries and did not sell in his lifetime. What is quite remarkable is that he persisted in rather bleak conditions to create over 900 landscape paintings as well as prints and drawings. Impressionism has remained the most enduring art movement in art history, and Alfred Sisley's contribution and posthumous success are immeasurable.
There are two Sisley paintings in The Portland Art Museum's permanent collection.