xxxxxThe French painter Auguste Renoir met Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley while studying in Paris in 1862. Together they formed a small group of artists -
(Va, Vb, Vc, E7, G5)
xxxxxThe French painter Pierre-
xxxxxHe was born at Limoges in southern-
xxxxxAfter the Franco-
xxxxxBy the mid-
xxxxxAmong his many outstanding works are Le Pont Neuf of 1872, a snapshot in depth of a busy scene on a Sunday afternoon; The First Outing of 1876, which captures so cleverly the feeling of excitement felt by a young girl on her first visit to the theatre; The Sleeper of 1897, a soft, sensuous work; The Doge’s Palace, a sparkling impression of a famous scene, painted during his visit to Venice in 1881; and Vase of Chrysanthemums of 1895, one of the many brilliant still lifes he produced during his long career (the last four illustrated below).
xxxxxRenoir contributed a great deal to Impressionism, particularly by the exuberance of his palette and by the brilliant way in which he handled the effects of the interplay between light and colour. However, whilst he produced some landscapes to achieve the movement’s aims, his main interest lay in the portrayal of people and the activity in which they were involved. Most of his works contained a group of people or, at least, a single person. In this respect he excelled in figure painting, producing intimate graceful studies of the female nude and charming, sensitive portraits of young girls or attractive young women. He was one of the most successful of the Impressionists, but his fame rests also upon his individuality as an artist, both in style and subject matter.
xxxxxThe French artist Alfred Sisley (1839-
xxxxxThe artist Alfred Sisley (1839-
xxxxxSisley was born in Paris of English parents, but he spent almost his entire life in France. At the age of 18 his father, a wealthy silk merchant, sent him to London to start a career in business, but it soon became clear that he was not cut out for a life in commerce. In 1861, with the permission of his father, he returned to Paris to study art. It was then that, via his friendship with Monet and Renoir and his visits to the Café Guerbois -
xxxxxTwo of his landscapes were accepted for the Salon of 1866, and in 1870 he settled at Louveciennes, just west of Paris, a favourite haunt of the Impressionists. That year, however, saw the outbreak of the Franco-
xxxxxOther works of this period included The bridge at Argenteuil of 1872 (bought by Manet), Boats at Bougival Lock of 1873, The Square at Louveciennes and The Canal of 1874, Snow at Luveciennes of 1875, and The Bridge at Sèvres, painted about 1877.
xxxxxBut outstanding though these impressionist paintings were, they attracted little attention and brought no financial reward -
xxxxxFrom the early 1880s he was living in or around a small village near Moret-
xxxxxDuring the 1880s these later works included Snowy Weather at Veneux-
xxxxxSisley spent almost his entire life in or around The Île de France (the Paris region), but, backed financially by his patrons, he did make two brief visits to England. In the first one, in 1874, he produced nearly twenty paintings of the Thames, and these included The Bridge at Hampton Court (illustrated centre above). Then in 1897 he and his partner visited Wales. They stayed at Penarth, a seaside resort near Cardiff and, on that occasion, he did paint several views of the seashore, including The Bristol Channel near Penarth and On the Cliffs, Langland Bay, Wales (illustrated right above).
xxxxxSisley, a quiet, modest man, was devoted to his art. His landscapes contained no social or political message, they were simply meant to delight the viewer by their simplicity and beauty. And this they did. As a founder member of the Impressionists, he admirably expressed the aims and ideas of the movement, and, by his delicacy of touch, added to its width. He died of throat cancer in 1899, aged 59, and was buried at Moret-
xxxxxIncidentally, although he spent his life in France and played so important a part in a movement which had its roots firmly in that country, he remained British. After being refused French citizenship in 1898, he made a second application, supported by a police report, but he was then taken ill and died before a decision was made. ……
xxxxx…… In 1866 Sisley began a relationship with Eugénie Lescouezec, a florist and an artist’s model living in Paris, and they had two children, Pierre and Jeanne. They let it be assumed that they were married, but in fact they were married at Cardiff Registry Office during his visit to Wales in 1897, mainly to ensure that his paintings would be inherited by their children. She died in October 1898, just three months before his own death.
xxxxxAnd despite his admirable contribution to the Impressionist movement, Renoir was, at heart, a traditionalist, an admirer of the old masters. Thus by 1880, somewhat wearied and frustrated, he had come to the conclusion that as an art form Impressionism was too restrictive. And this view was patently reinforced by subsequent events. In 1881 he paid a visit to North Africa in the steps of Eugène Delacroix (a colourist much admired by the Impressionists) and then travelled to Italy. During his stay there he admired the works of the Renaissance masters, especially those of Raphael, and during a visit to Naples he was deeply impressed by the exhibition of Roman paintings from Pompeii and Herculaneum. Then, on his return via Marseilles, he stayed for a while with his close friend Paul Cézanne, then living at L’Estaque, a small village a few miles west of the city. Though labelled an Impressionist -
xxxxxAs a result, on his return (delayed by a serious attack of pneumonia) Renoir adopted a more classical, disciplined approach, clearly to be seen in the large number of scenes from everyday life that he produced in the 1880s. These included his Lunch of the Boating Party, Umbrellas, and On the Terrace (all three illustrated below), and Girl with a Hoop. Among his nudes of this period were Seated Girl, The Bathers, and After the Bath. These works still owed much to Impressionism, but now there was more attention to detail, outlines were a great deal firmer, and many were completed in the studio. And much more emphasis was placed on people in the scene rather than the composition of the scene itself.