Plein air artists -
Alfred Sisley, “Le Pont de Sèvres (The Bridge at Sèvres),” 1877, oil on canvas, 15 x 18 in., National Gallery in Prague

As a plein air painter, you are part of one of the largest art movements in history. Learn about those who have helped start this movement in some way, and be inspired to continue your own journey.

Plein Air Artist Alfred Sisley

Born to English parents in France, Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) remained something of an outsider his entire life. Although he’s recognized along with friends Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet as one of the crucial figures in Impressionism, he never enjoyed their level of success or recognition.

While many of his peers explored urban life and the effects of industrialization in their work, Sisley remained focused on tranquil landscapes. In the summer of 1877, he moved to Sèvres, a suburb of Paris, where he painted a series of views of the town, its quays, and the local bridge over the Seine. Characterized by a fresh, breezy atmosphere, the paintings portray a range of riverside activities. In “Le Pont de Sèvres (The Bridge at Sèvres),” (above) he has added a small figure on the bank to draw the eye and add interest.

Rarely retouched in the studio, Sisley’s paintings offer a revealing account of what the artist saw and felt on the day. His innovative use of color and texture to evoke emotion foreshadowed many of the painting styles that would emerge in Europe after the turn of the 20th century. Denied citizenship by the country where he lived most of his life, he died an Englishman in Moret-sur-Loing, France at the age of 59.

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