Alfred Sisley Blog

Sisley painting sells well again


Feb 28 2012 08:53PM | by Staff Editor

We’ve been harping on about the mini-renaissance experienced by Sisley paintings. When we say mini-renaissance, we do of course mean that his works are selling for significantly higher margins than predicted. That’s not a personal surprise – we’ve been ardent supporters of Sisley and his dedication to the Impressionist landscape, but it finally seems his dedication is being supported at the auctions – an 1884 oil painting entitled Les Coteaux De La Celle-sous-Moret, vus de Saint-Mammes, which roughly translates to The Hills of Celle-sous-Moret, seen from St. Mammes, measuring 54.2 by 73cm, recently sold for 1,161,250 GBP (or USD $1,827,923.62) much higher than the expected top range of 800,00 GBP. Well, we think it was worth every penny. The Sisley painting in question depicts the landscape around the small village of Saint Mammes, which was the area where Sisley painted many of his most famous paintings. The area was, of course, also home to the Sisley family from 1880 – the Englishman thoroughly loved the scenery and it provided as much inspiration for him as Monet’s gardens at Giverny. The painting in question is actually one of a broad series of landscapes around Sain Mammes – from 1880 to 1882 he painted many... Read more

Sisley still a star at sale


Feb 15 2012 10:59PM | by Staff Editor

In a few of our artists’ posts this week, we noted the difficultly faced by some works of modern art at Sotheby’s February sale: A Dali painting known as Oasis failed to find a buyer, while a Klimt painting also failed to secure an invoice. Well, hold on to your britches, because Alfred Sisley, the English Impressionist, made more than expected, coming through with a sale of 937,250 sterling pound for an 1877 Sisley painting known as “Le Pont de St Cloud”, an oil on canvas measuring 51 by 62cm. It even exceeded estimates of 600,000-800,000 pounds. Say what? Sisley selling well? It seems the buyer liked the view of the Seine. The Sisley painting was completed at a time when old Alfred was on a winning streak – the artist was seeing the light as never before, and in this particular painting he takes a seat with Paris behind him, capturing the Seine from an unconventional French perspective, but one that clearly shows the influence of Japanese woodblock prints. In fact, that is one of the strengths of the painting: the composition works with the river and landscape balancing the bridge, with the brilliant blues and gargantuan green capping... Read more

Rocking away, Sisley style


Dec 25 2011 09:02PM | by Staff Editor

To be stuck between a rock and a hard place is a common enough saying, implying that no matter what decision one has to make, it isn’t going to be pretty. Well, Alfred Sisley, Impressionist maestro, sought to single-handedly throw that out the window. If you’re talking about the artist stuck between a rock and a hard place – with the hard place defined as his painting easel – then the result one gets is an Impressionist masterpiece. Today we’ll take a look at what many experts believe was one of Sisley’s last great oil paintings: Storr Rock, Lady's Cove - le Soir, 1897, a Welsh seascape painted just two years before his untimely death. A brief recap for the Alfred Sisley novices: the artist was born in Paris in 1839, where his father ran an import-export business. Although he was born in France and spent most of his life there, both his parents were English and he retained British nationality to his death, although he did apply twice for French citizenship. In 1857 his parents sent him to London for four years to learn the family business from relatives, but instead he discovered painting and returned to Paris where... Read more

More Sisley paintings on the global horizon


Nov 30 2011 05:57PM | by Staff Editor

As we’ve noted before, Sisley paintings are the ideal tonic for anyone suffering from a landscape impressionist deprivation. Alfred Sisley was, of course, the consummate Impressionist landscape painter: he was Captain Consistency of the Impressionists in his dedication to en plein air, never dabbled with the nude men and women (like Renoir and Pissarro) and he also stayed true to his Impressionist artistic roots – we’re no doubt sure he also never did dye his hair. His most famous works are series completed along the River Thames and landscapes Moret-sur-Loing and one painting that is causing waves in the Sisley world will soon be on auction for the first time ever. We’ll admit a little fanfare is in order with the announcement that the Les Coteaux de la Celle-Sous-Moret, vus de Saint-Mammes, one of Sisley’s most amiable river scenes, will be publicly available to bid on for the first time since it was finished in 1884. Sotheby’s will sell it at their major London sales of Impressionist & Modern Art, which take place on February 8 and 9 next year (2012). Auctioneers have predicted it will sell for about £600,000-800,000, not an outrageous sum to pay for what critics consider... Read more

Five Sisley oil paintings sold for no record prices


Nov 21 2011 11:21AM | by Staff Editor

Five Sisley paintings were sold at the November 1 Christie’s Impression and Modern Art Evening Sale in New York at the Rockefeller Plaza, but chances are, you’ve probably never heard of the works. After an extensive search on the internet not one media organisation or art website even bothered to list them, suffice to say that the Sisley paintings sold well. Such is the ignominy endured by arguably the least recognised Impressionist landscape painter. We hunted down the list of Sisley works, noting that the total of five Sisley artworks was sold for a value of $8,544,500 million. The cheapest was Lot 318, Paysage de Printemps--Chemin aux environs de Moret-sur Loing, which sold for $794,500, while the most expensive was La fenaison--Après-midi de juin, 1887, a painting sold by the Art Institute of Chicago for $3,330,500, while the average price was around $1 million. Why was La fenaison--Après-midi de juin significantly more expensive? For a Sisley works it is unconventional due to its higher viewing point and wider panoramic view. The artist was known to set his easel down commonly at the river bank; this time, however, Sisley chose a grassy meadow higher up, choosing instead to focus on shrubs... Read more

Wailing on Wales, not Alfred Sisley


Oct 18 2011 10:23AM | by Staff Editor

We have a bit of sympathy for the Welsh people after their unfortunate exit from the Rugby World Cup 2011 at the weekend. To lose by one point is gut-wrenching, especially after one of your key players was sent off after a controversial referee decision. Well, if there’s one thing you can believe in, then, it is not the Rugby Gods but rather Alfred Sisley, the ever reliable Impressionist painter who took a kind loving to Wales. Sisley painted many of his famous landscape oil paintings of Wales that centred on the town of Penarth and Langland Bay, Swansea. The Sisley oil paintings were among his last to be produced, painted when he and long-term partner Eugénie Lesouezec travelled to Wales in 1897 to secretly marry. Sisley travelled to England to marry Eugenie in order to legitimise their three children, who at the time had already grown up. They first spent several days in Falmouth, before they travelled to Wales. At the Cardiff Register Office on August 5 they made their then 31-year relationship official. The couple then decided to take an extended working-honeymoon – Sisley, the Impressionist of nature, did not look favourably upon Cardiff. He described the city... Read more

Influencing Alfred – a look at Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre


Oct 02 2011 12:24PM | by Staff Editor

Alfred Sisley was a great Impressionist painter. Sure, he isn’t the most popular, but arguably he’s the most pure. Devoted to nature and landscapes, you would find no one more consistent and persistent in his pursuit of the natural. Sisley would inspire other great painters like Paul Signac – but who inspired Sisley? It is often worth investigating the teachers of the great masters, because in many ways, the masters are the products of the teachers, with a little extra added in. Sisley’s main teacher was of course Charles Gleyre, who was born May 2, 1806 and passed away nearly an exact 68 years later on May 5, 1874. Gleyre was a Swiss artist best known for replacing Paul Delaroche in 1843 at the school Delaroche established. Here he encountered a number of young and budding Impressionists, including Pierre Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Bazille and American James Abbott McNeill Whistler. But what of Gleyre himself? Early biographical information about his younger years is scare. Historians know his father and mother died when he was about nine, which resulted in the young Gleyre being moved to Lyon, France, where he spent the majority of his adolescent years with his... Read more

Sisley paintings and his first solo exhibition – no time like the present


Sep 18 2011 07:43PM | by Staff Editor

“On his canvas one can still feel the breeze as the leaves move gently in the breeze” – Stéphane Mallarmé Here’s a quick question for the Sisley lovers among us: in what year did Alfred Sisley have his first solo exhibition in Germany? He died in 1899, and he was born in 1839… so one would assume that it would have to have been after he was 30-years-old, given the lack of enthusiasm the Impressionists garnered from the bulk of their contemporary colleagues and the public at large. Okay, the first hint is that it wasn’t during his lifetime. The second, not twenty years later. The third, not fifty years later. It is only this year, 2011, and this month, September, that Sisley has managed to score his first solo exhibition in Germany, at the Von der Heydt Museum in Wuppertal. So pick your jaw off the floor. We were floored too, to think that it would take him 112 years for a solo exhibition in a country well versed with the arts. If we were talking about, say, Somalia, we might understand. But Germany? Nevertheless, the exhibition has drawn a lot of media coverage. Entitled “Alfred Sisley – the... Read more

Sisley paintings – as fine today as they were in 1921


Sep 04 2011 10:03PM | by Staff Editor

It was 90 years ago, back in 1921, when a review of the latest Alfred Sisley exhibition was published in the New York Times. Dated January 12, 1921, the article read: “a life covering fifty-nine years, and ending with the end of the nineteenth century, was filled by Alfred Sisley with art so guileless and direct, so personal in vision, so competent in execution, that none can tire of it”. Sadly for Sisley, the observation was only too acute – he did indeed die young, young enough that the Impressionist movement would be recognised just several years later, and young enough that he would die in poverty, without the recognition he truly deserved. For this most faithful master of the in plain air technique, loyalty meant a bitter pill. The distinguishing feature of Sisley paintings is that they are, by their nature, purely Impressionist. He is the Frodo Baggins of the Impressionist world, the one who stays true to the journey, despite the many hindrances and temptations on the way. But how were Sisley paintings viewed 100 years ago? Again, the opinion has not widely changed. As noted in the New York Times, some Sisley paintings may have grown a... Read more

Hullo there chum! The historic Regatta at Molesey


Aug 21 2011 10:37PM | by Staff Editor

Any good Englishman will tell you there’s nothing quite like an old-fashioned regatta. The trouble is, of course, finding a good Englishman! One sore point of rivalry between the two old foes, England and France, is that the French could always claim they had all the Impressionist painters – all but one, that is, in the form of Alfred Sisley. The painter was, of course, a French born Englishman who unsuccessful applied for French citizenship twice; he spent more time in France than anywhere else, and from several accounts his French was better than his English. Does that matter, though? Bollocks we say – Sisley painted the Regatta at Molesey and that makes him a bona fide Englishman. The Sisley painting of the Molesey Regatta is special for several reasons. Firstly, it is important to note the historical significance of the event. The Molesey regatta is one of the oldest in England, with its inaugural year marked in the history books as 1867 – just seven years before this painting was completed. In the age before digital cameras, the Sisley painting acts as an important historical primary source. Measuring 66 cm x 92 cm, it is not only a work... Read more

Another arrow in the Archer’s bow – Alfred Sisley


Jul 24 2011 10:05PM | by Staff Editor

“A Cézanne is a moment of the artist while a Sisley is a moment of nature” – Henri Matisse, quoted in C. Lloyd’s Alfred Sisley and the Purity of Vision, 1992. Alfred Sisley is unfortunately one of the less well-known painters of the Impressionist group, a notion we’ve alluded to a couple of times on this website. It’s therefore good news that we have famous collectors who help to bring the artist’s name to the spotlight once again, this time through the sale of a special personal collection. That man is the popular novelist and former British MP Jeffrey Archer. In June this year Mr Archer put several notable items for sale at a Christie’s auction held in London. The event was sparked by his 70th birthday, which he celebrated earlier in April 2011. The author said it provided a catalyst for a new outlook on life which was now focused more on charity works. In line with that revelation he gave his children and wife first pick of his collection and then donated further artworks to the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean museum in Oxford. Money raised from this Christie’s auction (they hoped 5 million pounds) was... Read more

Paul Durand-Ruel - the salesman of Sisley paintings


Jul 11 2011 11:44AM | by Staff Editor

Alfred Sisley is famous mainly for two things within the Impressionist movement: he was pegged the “English” Impressionist painter, even though he was born and lived the vast majority of his life in France (his parents were English); and secondly, he was and remains significantly less recognised when compared to his peers, especially Monet and Renoir. Art historians have attributed this lack of recognition, and subsequent impact on financial income, to two reasons. Sisley was a purist and only painted landscapes, and for the large part, the man was private, humble and therefore not a good salesman of himself and his artwork. Thankfully, the artist would find a person to market Sisley paintings in the form of noted dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. Paul Durand-Ruel was born on October 31, 1831, in Paris, to a family who were involved in the art scene as picture dealers. In 1865 he took over the family business, which at the time had artists such as Corot and the Barbizon school of painters on its books. Durand-Ruel had a fine taste in art and even more so for salesmanship – he saw the potential of the Impressionists long before the mainstream dealers did, and managed to... Read more

Alfred Sisley and his picture frames


May 24 2011 10:51AM | by Staff Editor

Picture frames are often overlooked in comparison to the canvas art itself, but makers of the frames were often regarded as skilled craftsmen in their own right. While painters commonly did not concern themselves with framing, which was often left to the dealers for financial and practical reasons, some artists took an active concern in the quadrilateral creations. Let’s take a look at the works of Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley and the frames which surrounded his landscape masterpieces. Sisley paintings are noted for their landscapes and are very valuable today. But this was not the case when the painter was alive; indeed, a large influence on the sale of a painting was often the frame, which theoretically matched or at least enhanced the buyer’s interior decoration interests. According to historical documents, Sisley did not care much for framing: for practical purposes he would ship crates of canvas artwork to his dealers, who would then determine the most apt frames. Two paintings, Rue de la Machine, Louveciennes (1873) and La Neige a Louveciennes (1878) are still framed with their original fluted cavetto moulding frames, notable for their conventional and flat foliage ornamentation in the corners. The original frames add significant authenticity... Read more

How Paint in Tubes Started a Revolution


May 03 2011 09:40AM | by Staff Editor

When discussing Alfred Sisley and the Impressionist movement, we're accustomed to talking about innovation. Impressionist painters changed the way oil paintings were created. No longer was the artist tied to the studio, relying on models or memory to generate paintings. No longer was the artist required to take weeks or months to create a single painting. No longer were human forms or biblical scenes the primary inspiration for paintings. Instead, Sisley paintings were generated on the spot, allowing the artist to paint what he saw, as he saw it. The emphasis was on what the artist saw and was experiencing, not on what the scene looked like to other people. And Sisley paintings, along with other Impressionist paintings, were generated very quickly, using deep daubs of paint, applied heavily and thickly. While Impressionist painters such as Sisley are credited with this revolution in painting, the Impressionist movement owes a deep debt to an earlier innovation in the way oil paint was created and packaged. Prior to 1841, creating oil paint was a labor-intensive enterprise. Artists ground each pigment by hand, adding binding oil in precise measurements and placing the completed paint in glass syringes or pig bladders. As each color... Read more

Does Alfred Sisley Sell Clothes or Perfume?


Apr 26 2011 12:27PM | by Staff Editor

Run a search for "Alfred Sisley," and you're likely to get pages and pages of links for Benetton, Sisley makeup and Sisley cosmetics. Very few entries, if any, deal directly with the Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley. This got us to thinking: Is the estate of Alfred Sisley somehow involved in the creation of these products? How likely is it that Alfred Sisley would have been able to contribute to these products? And what does this discussion say about Sisley the artist and his reputation? We'll begin with clothing. The Sisley brand of clothing by Benetton is geared toward young women. Collections tend to be bold and bright, focusing on the shape of the women's body and the playfulness of youth. The website for the Benetton Sisley brand doesn't provide a direct link between Alfred Sisley and the name of the line, leaving the connection open to speculation. While Alfred Sisley was certainly capable of painting human forms, as seen in The Lesson, he is much better known for his landscape paintings. On occasion, human forms are seen, but they are often blurred into background lines, as in Garden Under the Snow. A recent collection of Sisley clothing circles around the... Read more

Alfred Sisley Paintings of Wales


Apr 10 2011 04:30PM | by Staff Editor

One painting, The Cardiff Shipping Lanes, has been particularly beloved by collectors and art enthusiasts. In this Sisley painting, generated just two years before the painter's death of cancer, a tall tree leans toward the sea. The strong vertical line of the tree is echoed in the two human figures that stand just to the right of the tree and also look out at the water. The sea itself is full of steaming boats of all shapes and sizes. Art enthusiasts who would like to visit this spot and see what Sisley saw would be hard-pressed to do so. The tree that stood here was washed away due to erosion in 2001. A new tree was planted, but it isn't nearly the same size as the original, at least not yet. Additionally, the shipping lanes that Sisley painted here are no longer as busy as they were in the 1890s. The sea now is calm, and hotels and housing developments hem in the beach itself.  Perhaps this is what makes Sisley's paintings of Wales so popular. They showcase a time when Wales was much different than it is today. Impressionists were keen on painting a place just as it seemed to... Read more