Leave feedback
Loading search results
About us
The Art Story Homepage Artists Alfred Sisley
Alfred Sisley Photo

Alfred Sisley

British Painter

Movement: Impressionism

Born: October 30, 1839 - Paris, France

Died: January 1899 - Moret-sur-Loing, France

Alfred Sisley Timeline

"And though the artist must remain the master of his craft, the surface, at times raised to the highest pitch of liveliness, should transmit to the beholder the sensation which possessed the artist."

Summary of Alfred Sisley

Alfred Sisley is one of Impressionism's most unjustly overlooked artists. This may perhaps be due to the fact that Sisley straddled two different cultures, having been born to English parents in France and later dividing his time between the two countries. As such, though he worked as one of the key figures in French Impressionism, he remained something of an outsider. Unlike many of his peers, who examined urban life, industrialization, and people, Sisley was almost exclusively a painter of landscapes, a subject from which he rarely strayed. What's more, there is a moodiness and distinct colorism in his works that suggest an influence from earlier periods of English and French art, especially the Barbizon school. As such, Sisley created his own unique brand of Impressionism that foreshadowed many of the new painting styles that would emerge in Europe after the turn of the 20th century.

Key Ideas

Sisley's landscapes are known for their uncanny ability to capture a sense of atmosphere and light. This effect is compounded by his big, expressive skies, which are almost always a central feature of his paintings.
Although he is often considered an outsider because of his English citizenship, Sisley trained in Paris with Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet, among other greats, and was one of the crucial figures working to create the new style that would become known as Impressionism.
Although Sisley's works are quite beautiful to the modern eye, it is important to remember that his work (like that of all of the Impressionists) was quite radical in its own day. His focus on modern, urban life, his view of nature as a worthwhile subject matter, and his sketchy, "impressionistic" style were all hallmarks of a new painting style for an industrialized world.
Sisley's sensitivity to the subtleties of natural landscapes was striking, allowing him to create landscapes that pulse simultaneously with the seemingly contradictory feelings of physical realism and dreamy emotionalism.
Alfred Sisley Photo

Alfred Sisley was born in Paris, the son of affluent British expatriates. His mother, Felicia Sell, was a music connoisseur, and his father, William Sisley, owned a lucrative business exporting artificial flowers and silk. Felicia and William were cousins, descended from a long line of English smugglers and tradesmen. Alfred was one of four children, one of whom - the eldest brother - died at a young age. Unfortunately, little is known about Alfred's adolescence before he was sent to London in 1857 to study for a career in commerce. While in London, Sisley is said to have spent much of his time visiting the exhibitions of John Constable and J.M.W. Turner at the National Gallery.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Alfred Sisley
Interactive chart with Alfred Sisley's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart
Show influences
If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Sheryl Siclari-Ostyn

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ellen Hurst

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Sheryl Siclari-Ostyn
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ellen Hurst
Available from:
First published on 27 May 2016. Updated and modified regularly. Information
[Accessed ]