Impressionist landscape painter Alfred Sisley was born in France on October 30, 1839. His parents were British with a family business in Paris. Alfred spent four years in London, between 1857 and 1861, when studying for a business career, but when he returned to France his life took a different direction.
In 1862 Sisley was attending the studio of Charles Gleyre, a Swiss artist. It was there that he got to know some of the artists who were to become known as The Impressionists. They became friends and went on painting trips together to the Forest of Fontainebleau and other areas of countryside around Paris. Sisley worked in the open air, along with fellow artists Frederic Bazille, Pierre-Auguste and Claude Monet, who were spontaneous in capturing the ever-changing effects of natural light on the landscape.
The Impressionist techniques used for these paintings were highly innovative at the time and as a result the work of these young artists was initially hard to exhibit. None of them found it easy to sell their work because Impressionist paintings were so different from the type of art that people were used to seeing on display.
In 1866, Sisley formed a relationship with a young Breton woman, Eugenie Lesouezec and together they had two children. His paintings were accepted for exhibition at a Paris Salon in 1868, but he received no critical acclaim and was living off the funds received from his father until the Franco-German War broke out in 1870 and put an end to the family business.
Sisley fled to London until the following year, when the military conflict was at an end. He returned to France and decided to make art his full-time career, in the hope that he would be able to support himself, his partner and their children from sales of his paintings.
Sisley continued to paint landscapes under varying changing light conditions and different skies. His works were always softer and more harmonious than those of the other Impressionist painters. Unlike them he remained constant in producing landscapes in restrictive colors and with a tonal quality that was probably influenced by the works of Camille Corot.
Between 1872 and 1880 Sisley painted the majority of what were to become his best known paintings. He kept in contact with Monet and continued to paint spontaneously in the countryside around Paris. In 1874 he spent some time in England, where he produced a series of notable landscape paintings depicting the River Thames and surrounding areas.
1880 he settled with his family in a small village close to Moret-sur-Loing and the Fontainebleau Forest, where he continued painting the local landscapes. His first solo exhibition took place in 1883 in Paris at La Vie Moderne.
In 1897 Sisley married Eugenie Lesouezec at a civil ceremony in Wales, where he also painted some local landscape scenes. His attempt to gain French citizenship the following year was turned down and he remained a British citizen for the rest of his life, living in poverty in France.
Alfred Sisley never received much attention from the art world during his lifetime, but following his death on January 29, 1899 the quality of his work was finally recognized. The price of his artworks began to rise rapidly and his reputation as an artist was firmly established.