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.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog, Alfred Sisley: Impressionist Master, presents an overdue reevaluation of Sisley, one of Impressionism’s most distinctive yet undervalued figures. An artist of unparalleled sensitivity, Sisley maintained a strong commitment to creating his works outdoors, skillfully recording the nuances within the landscapes of northern France and rendering the effects of the changing light and weather patterns along specific areas of the river Seine in a truly remarkable fashion. Exploring the artist’s relationship to his fellow Impressionists as well as to his influences, including J.M.W. Turner, 17th-century Dutch art, and Japanese prints, and showcasing rarely seen privately owned works, this volume celebrates Sisley’s unique virtuosity as an observer of the natural world.