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Sisley, un inglese a Parigi.

Sisley, an Englishman in Paris.

 

William Sisley belongs to the British good bourgeoisie. A thriving trader in luxury trimmings for tailors and tailoring women's clothing, he was appointed director of the Paris branch, where he moved in 1836.

Three years later Alfred was born. Little Sisley grows up in a family where his father is dedicated to business and his mother to good music and social life.

As expected by the customs of the "good English family", at the age of eighteen, Alfred was sent to London to educate himself and become an expert in trade.

 

No commercial flair

After four years of studies and apprenticeship, with regret, but with realism, Mr. William he realizes that his son Alfred has the flair and ability commercial is completely missing: the boy is committed but does not learn, he is not really in the game.

In London, however, the young Alfred showed a passion and interest in art and in particular for painting.

Back in France the father, like a good businessman, does not insist on a commercial career, but supports his son in his artistic passion. Alfred thus enters Charles Gleyre's atelier and finds himself as fellow students: Renoir, Monet and Bazille.

 

Group painting

How could such personalities and talents be enough for Gleyre's traditional painting lessons?

Said and done: the four friends leave the studio and here they are in 1863 painting outdoors, according to one of the commandments of impressionism. This new experience is a stimulus for them “Fab four” of painting, unites them, excites them and spurs their battle for the new impressionist painting.

Sisley, although shy and introverted, had a great sense of humor and bonded very well in the group also for his love of music and beautiful women.

 

The conqueror ... conquered

And Alfred, among his female conquests, is in turn conquered by Marie-Eugénie Lescouezec, a young Parisian, and after two years she is married.

His friend Renoir paints one of his most beautiful paintings portraying the Sisley couple.

Thanks to the family money, Alfred fully enjoys the joys of marriage and its pictorial momentum. Painting, marriage and social life at the Café Guerbois under the guidance of Eduard Manet, who meanwhile became the leader of the new artistic movement.

Sisley participates with joy in this golden moment in Paris without missing out on numerous trips to the countryside to paint nature.

 

The war also affects the Sisleys

We arrive at 1871 when, as is well known, the Franco-Prussian war begins. Among the side effects of this havoc is the business of Sisley's father who, also thanks to some evaluation errors, goes into bankruptcy.

During this bloody period Alfred retires to the countryside near his friend August Renoir, but the music changes: there is no longer his father's money to keep him kept and calm and he must start worrying to sell his paintings in order to live.

Just to make it rain in the wet, once back in Paris, he finds his house ransacked and all the paintings stolen.

A minimum of subsistence comes to him from the exhibitions at the Salòn made by the group of Impressionist painters, where he sells some paintings.

 

All free: each on his own

The momentum of the Impressionist group comes to an end and Monet, Cèzanne and others decide to abandon the common project and go it alone.

And here another problem arises, given that we know how much Alfred Sisley is denied for business and the promotion of his cadres. Obviously, life is complicated by refusing to participate in successful exhibitions and instead choosing those where nothing is sold.

Forced by necessity, Sisley does less of the difficult and recognition is not long in coming. He meets the art dealer Georges Petit who puts him under contract and, between ups and downs, we can say that Sisley can arrive calmly at the end of the month.

The luck of his colleagues and friends Renoir, Manet and Degas to name only three is quite different.

 

Why them yes and me no?

To understand the different critical luck between Sisley and the other Impressionists it is necessary to deepen the gaze on his painting.

Sisley is a devoted and observant impressionist. While for Monet a landscape is a pretext to orchestrate his brush strokes and make the colors sing, juxtaposing them in ever-changing ways; for Sisley the landscape is an objective fact that must be taken up again, as the rules of impressionism dictate.

In practice there is the absence of a personal style, despite being Sisley.

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