Alfred Sisley (1839-1899): Impressionist Master

by Matthew Innis |

The Bruce Museum and the Hôtel de Caumont Centre d’Art in Aix-en-Provence, France, are mounting a major monographic exhibition of the art of the French Impressionist Alfred Sisley (1839 – 1899). The first retrospective in the United States in over twenty years of this purest of all the major Impressionists, the show is comprised of about 50 of Sisley’s paintings from private collections and major museums in Europe and North America. The Bruce Museum will premiere the exhibition and be the only venue in the United States.

A friend of Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Sisley initially worked in the naturalistic landscape tradition of the Barbizon School but increasingly adopted a proto-Impressionistic style, creating a body of work that has an impressive internal consistency and cumulative authority. Throughout his career, Sisley adhered to the style of divided light and color, momentary effects of illumination, and an acute responsiveness to atmosphere that are the signature attributes of Impressionism. He dutifully painted en plein air in all manner of weather, recording his favorite sites in the environs of Paris – Bougival, Louveciennes, Marly-le-Roi, Saint-Mammès – in exhaustive detail, in all seasons, and under ever-changing skies. Born in Paris to British parents, Sisley studied the landscape paintings of Constable and Turner before enrolling in Charles Gleyre’s studio where he met Monet and Renoir. Little biographical information about his life has survived so his art must speak for itself, and does so with haunting beauty. The magic with which he was able to capture light sparkling on water, winter sun on snow, and trees rustled by a breeze create some of the most memorable Impressionist images.


The exhibition was curated by MaryAnne Stevens, an authority on Sisley, with contributions to the catalogue by Richard Shone, who wrote a book on the painter, and Kathleen Adler, a nineteenth-century French specialist. The exhibition Alfred Sisley (1839-1899): Impressionist Master is organized by the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, and Culturespaces.

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