Wedi 7: Alfred Sisley, Impressionist

This wase another item for the Welsh language magazine show, Wedi 7.alfredsisley

This time Nia’s whisked me off to the National Gallery to talk about the work of Alfred Sisley. (30 October 1839 – 29 January 1899)

An unheralded member of the Impressionist movement, this was an Englishman who was born and spent most of his life in France. Probably the perfect Impressionist, he never explored other areas of figurative painting, choosing instead to study, obsess and perfect the landscape (you get the drift). His friends and inspirations were Claude Monet, Frédéric Bazille, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. I can’t pinpoint why we’ve never heard of him before, he lived as a Frenchman amongst the French but seems to have escaped notice and acclaim unlike the rest of the group – so in some ways he’s got a good case for feeling a bit hard done by. Maybe thats the part of his Englishness that held him back. The reservation, the determination and the commitment to his goal of the representation of the landscape probably held him back in terms of fame but retrospectively it’s what we celebrate him for now.

Walnut-Tree-in-a-Thomery-FieldFor me his observation is fantastic, his study of how the modern world interacts and interrupts the rural landscapes are detailed and impressive. True to Impressionist ambitions his use of natural light radiates from the pictures be it snow, seascape or rustic. He might not have the glamour of the big names around him but his work and dedication is important despite the sometimes muted palettes.

Langland-Bay-Storrs-Rock---MorningThe exhibition is a new presentation of his works and is part of a larger picture exchange with institutions in the US. It will debut in London and then move to the National Museum of Wales in the New Year. The welsh interest is twofold. The Museum is part of the exchange programme, so in recognition of the art they’re lending the US they get some in exchange to supplement their already significant collection. The second and more important point of interest is that Sisley is the only founding Impressionist that came and painted in Wales. He came to South Wales in 1897, spending July to September in Penarth, near Cardiff, and at Langland Bay on the Gower Peninsula. His paintings of South Wales are his only seascapes, and recall the atmospheric views of the Breton coast painted a few years before by his friend, the artist Claude Monet. The exhibition runs to 14 June 2009.

As an aside. I went on trip to the Gower in my youth, and that rock is still there…

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