"I always begin a picture with the sky." -- A. Sisley.
Born to English parents on this day in 1839, Alfred Sisley pursued a commercial career in England for a time in accordance with his parents' wishes. In 1862, he turned from an amateur painter into a professional, entering the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and meeting Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Frederic Bazille, with whom he exhibited his works beginning in 1863.
To borrow a note from beer commercials, Sisley's style can be characterized as "Monet Lite," sharing with Monet an interest in the play of light on color in nature, especially in landscapes, but eschewing Monet's dissolution of form and use of exceptional lighting effects. Sisley's Impressionism was soft and lyrical, with a delicate palette of a limited range of colors -- sometimes referred to as the "purest" brand of Impressionism. He painted in London in the 1870s, fleeing the Franco-Prussian War, but later returned to France where he concentrated on the landscape of the countryside around Paris. He struggled against poverty, and only began to receive wider acclaim after his death on January 29, 1899 at Moret-sur-Loing, France.