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Alfred Sisley Art Prints

Alfred Sisley (30 October 1839 - 29 January 1899) was born in Paris, France. His parents were English. During his first trip to London, from 1857-61, he discovered the work of the English landscape painters Turner, Constable, and Bonnington, and the influence of England and English art remained strong throughout his career. In this Sisley was not unusual; other members of the Impressionist group such as Monet, Pissarro, and Renoir were looking to recent precedents in their desire for an art which reflected landscape in as naturalistic a way as possible. They deliberately flouted the strict academic precepts of the École des Beaux-Arts, with its emphasis on the historical landscape that derived ultimately from Claude and Poussin, and turned instead to the Barbizon painters. Sisley's landscape at the Salon of 1868, Avenue of Chestnut Trees near La Celle Saint-Cloud (Southampton), demonstrates an acquaintance with the soft tonality of Corot and the dramatic massing of Courbet, both of whom were to remain influential. At the first Impressionist exhibition, Sisley exhibited six landscapes (only five appeared in the catalogue) with little critical or financial success. His Autumn: Banks of the Seine near Bougival (1873; Montreal) was criticized for being sketch-like and apparently unfinished, a common complaint levelled against other Impressionist painters who adopted an uncomprising stance to painting out of doors with a much freer execution than found in the work of older artists. Sisley exhibited at the second and third Impressionists exhibitions but met with little critical acclaim until he received a mention in Georges Rivière's L'Impressioniste, which was sympathetic to the Impressionist cause. He wrote of Sisley's charming talent, his taste, subtlety, and tranquillity. It is in these terms that present-day reviewers regard Sisley. Unlike Monet or Renoir he did not confront urban life in his landscapes, and his view of nature was not shaped by anarchist politics like Pissarro's. Instead he painted a timeless yet unsentimental view of nature in which man, although present, is never the controlling force.

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