Sisley was born in Paris as a child of the wealthy English businessman residing there William Sisley (1799 – 1879), who traded with the southern United States. After his school days in Paris was Alfred in 1857 sent by his father to London to improve his English and make a career in business. However, he spent a lot of time in museums, where he mainly the work of Constable and Turner studied.
Sisley did not feel attracted to the business world and returned back to Paris in 1862 to become painter . His family supported him in this and sent him to the École des Beaux Arts.He studied there at the Swiss history painter Charles Gleyre, who also later greats like Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir had under his wing. Gleyre was beloved by hisstudents because he was painting in the open air (en plein air) and encouraged originality. Sisley also spent a lot of time by painting in the forest of Fontainebleau and was a pupil of Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot.
During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) Sisley lived some time in London. His father lost all his money due to this war, whereby Sisley had to live only from the sale of his paintings. Unlike some other impressionists he did little to self-promotion, leaving him only in his last years got some recognition and most of the rest of his life spent in poverty. In 1870, he married Louise Adélaïde Eugéne Lescouezec (1834-1898), giving him a son (Pierre, 1867) and a daughter (Jeanne, 1869) donated.
Sisley died of throat cancer at the age of 59.
The bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne (1872), collection:Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe Seine at Port-Marly (sand hope) (1875), collection: Art Institute of Chicago
Sisley is known as one of the "purest" impressionists and participated in the first Impressionist Exhibition in 1874 and 1876, 1877 and 1882. He produced approximately 900 oil paintings, almost all landscapes. Sisley loved the French countryside, where he long lived, but also made a few works in London and around Cardiff.
Sisleys landscapes, in which people usually are absent and that have a serene atmosphere, are often dominated by the air, which fascinated him. Also notable is his penchant forsnow. In a letter to a friend he wrote: "each painting shows a place which the painter has fallen in love with."
The works of Alfred Sisley are in various museums, including:
- National Gallery in London
- Hermitage in Saint Petersburg
- Louvre in Paris
- Musée d'Orsay in Paris
- Museum of Fine Arts in Houston
- Neue Pinakothek in Munich
- Rijksmuseum Twenthe in Enschede