Alfred Sisley lived in Moret-sur-loing, a beautiful village near Fontainebleau, during the last years of his life.
Inspired by Corot and Courbet
The name of Moret-sur-Loing is inseparable from that of Alfred Sisley. This painter, early impressionist, from an English family settled in Paris, lived for twenty years in Veneux-Nadon (today, Veneux-Les Sablons) and Moret-sur-Loing. He frequented and painted the region from his early years. From 1863, Sisley and his friends met in the studio of Charles Gleyre painter and professor of fine arts, Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870) and Claude Monet (1840-1926) came to work “on the ground”, in the forest of Fontainebleau, in Barbizon or Marlotte located about ten kilometers from Moret. All of them were then inspired by the English painting of Constable and Turner, whom Sisley knew well for having made a few stays across the Channel, and by the French realist current, in particular Gustave Courbet and the master landscape painters of the Barbizon School, Corot ( 1796-1875) and Daubigny (1817-1878).
Renoir And Sisley in a boat
The small group nurtures innovative ambitions, going against the current of academic painting: to restore the specific atmosphere of a real place by endeavoring to follow one of Corot’s precepts “never lose the first impression that gave us moved”. After the forest of Fontainebleau, the favorite subject of Sisley and his friends was undoubtedly the Seine and its tributaries. To paint the river as close as possible, from new angles, Renoir and Sisley went so far as to rent a small boat. With Monet and Renoir, but also Cézanne, Pissaro, Degas or Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley exhibited his paintings in the spring of 1874 in the studio studio of the photographer Nadar in Paris, on the sidelines of the official salons. This event will go down in history as the very first Impressionist exhibition. Subsequently, Sisley took part in many of the demonstrations of the movement. Despite the support of collector and dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, he never really achieved success during his lifetime. The ruin of his family, following the Franco-Prussian war (1870), forced him to reduce his lifestyle and leave Paris for Louveciennes, then Marly-le-Roi, Sèvres, and finally Veneux-Nadon and Moret- sur-Loing where he resided at 19 rue Montmartre, until his death in 1899.
Le Canal de Loing at the Musée d’Orsay
All his life he endeavored to paint his places of residence, where he drew his inspiration. Indeed, the landscape represents almost all of Sisley’s work. If nearly a thousand paintings by the painter are listed today, more than 400 canvases have been produced in Seine & Loing, immortalizing the sites of Moret-sur-Loing, Veneux-Les Sablons, Saint-Mammès and Thomery. Impressionist painter, friend of Monet and Renoir, Alfred Sisley painted almost exclusively landscapes throughout his career. His style, very particular, establishes by its effects of transparency and reflections a unity of composition and light which is specific to him. His work, like that of many of his contemporaries, was little appreciated during his lifetime, but is now recognized worldwide. Alfred Sisley left his academic apprenticeship in Paris very early and chose to go into nature and paint on the spot. After Chailly-en-Bière and Barbizon, he settled in Moret-sur-Loing, from 1889 until his death. During the last twenty years of his life, Sisley often painted the village, but also the river and the canal that follows the course of the Loing. The result are illustrious canvases such as Le Pont de Moret (1893), Avenue of poplars around Moret-sur-Loing (1890) or Le Canal du Loing (1892), now on display at the Musée d’Orsay. The landscapes of the banks of the Loing, the town of Moret and its surroundings inspire all his work. A monument was dedicated to him in 1911, and the “Société des Amis d’Alfred Sisley” perpetuates the memory of the painter and that of his work.