Sisley provides a link between Corot and Boudin, ad that of Maurice Utrillo. As an Impressionist he was, with his delicate sensibility, particularly attracted
tosubtlety of colour and feeling. His favourite subjects were water, skies, snow and mist effects, which he painted with great sensitivity and skill. He is a typical nature painter, extra-ordinarily responsive to all her changing moods and quick to notice and record impressions.
Sisley was born in Paris of English parents. His father had originally intended him for
a business career but he showed no aptitude for it whatsoever; and as he seemed to have a gift for drawing and painting, he went instead to the Atelier Gleyre, where he met Claude Monet, Bazille and Renoir. With them he painted out of doors, and at Easter 1863 went with them to Chailly-en-Biere near Fontainebleau. In 1866, two of his paintings, one of them being The Chestnut avenue at la Celle-Saint-Cloud,
were hung at the Paris Salon. In 1867 he went to Honfleur, in 1868 and 1870 exhibited again at the Salon, and was in London during the 1870 war. Up to the time of his father's bankruptcy in 1870, Sisley was some-thing of a dilettante, but as he was then married and penniless, he began trying to sell his pictures, and Durand-Ruel, Theodore Duret, Murer the pastry-cook and Doctor Viau bought them for sums ranging from twenty five to fifty francs apiece. At that time he was influenced a good deal by Courbet and Corot. He loved painting in the Ile-de-France, in
little villages not far from Paris. Before 1870, he used to go to Louveciennes and Bougival, and between 1870 and 1875 painted at Voisins and Marly. From 1875 to 1879 he lived at Sevres and painted in its surroundings, at Meudon and Saint-Cloud. Finally in 1879 he settled near Moret, and then at Moret-sur-Loing in September 1882. He was not a great traveller but he went to London in 1874, to Normandy, where he stopped for a while at Rouen, in 1894, and in 1896 he went to Wales.
From 1870 to 1874 his work was strongly influenced by Corot and Boudin, as one can
see in View of the Canal Saint-Martin (1870), A Street at Marly (187 I), The Square.at Argenteuil (1872 ), The road seen from the path to Sevres (1873), a subject which Corot had also painted,and The Louveciennes road in the snow (1873) . Sisley took part in the firstImpressionist exhibition in 1874, as well as inthose of 1876, 1877 and 1882. His techniquewas changing; his palette was brighter and hiscolours more sparkling (already in 1873 hisWheatfield showed signs of this). His subjects
were water: The Flood at Port-Marly (1876), Boat during the flood, on the Seine at Suresnes (1877), or misty effects: Fog (1874) and thesubtle pearly effect of snow: Snow at Louveciennes (1874 and 1878). Unlike Pissarro who was more solid and down-to-earth, Sisley is the painter of imponderables and fleeting evanescent impressions. Everything he does has an unusual delicacy of touch, suggesting the poetry of a sensitive and artistic nature.
Based on Phaidon encyclopedia of Impressionism, Maurice Serullaz, Phaidon, 1978