Alfred Sisley Photographié en 1882, Archives Durand-Ruel, Paris
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The son of a rich British businessman established in Paris, Alfred Sisley, became a painter, in spite of his parents' opposition. Beginning his apprenticeship in Gleyre's studio in 1862, he met there Renoir, Bazille and Monet, who were instrumental in his development towards a clearer style of painting. Fascinated at once by the study of nature and the spectacle of the street, Sisley renounced the depiction of purely urban scenes, following his friends in the forest. He first lived in Louveciennes and Marly-le-Roi, west of Paris, and later in Moret-sur-Loing, close to Fontainebleau. A follower of Corot in his refined and sensitive palette, Sisley was in a way the chronicler of life in the countryside, exelling in depicting with accuracy its atmosphere.
While accepted in 1866, Sisley was refused at the Salon in the following years. He took part in the first three Impressionist exhibitions, but remained the unlucky one of the group and never received as much praise as his fellow painters. He participated in several important exhibitions held by leading art galleries, but encountered commercial success only after his death, when he was at last recognized as one of the great Impressionist Masters. Over his lifetime, he executed almost 900 oil paintings, mainly landscapes, revealing his fascination for skies, snow and the effects of light in general. The early works, in the pure tradition of 'L'Ecole de Barbizon', rarely integrated figures or busy city settings. Later, they reflected the serene and undisturbed atmosphere of French countryside. Today his paintings remain a source of delight, suggesting such adjectives as gentle, idyllic, timeless, wistful or harmonious.