Description: Born and raised in Paris of English parents, Alfred Sisley quietly became one of the central figures in the French Impressionist movement. Like his father, he first set out on a career in the cotton and coffee business, but after seeing the work of the English landscapists J.M.W. Turner and John Constable while studying in London, he elected to pursue his interest in painting instead. By 1862, Sisley was studying in Paris under Charles Gleyre, through whom he met Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Together, the three would revolutionize painting in France.
Sisley never wavered from his Impressionist style, but he struggled to find buyers for his paintings. He was evicted from his house in Sèvres in 1877, probably the same year he painted The Seine at Billancourt. The area known as Billancourt is on the right bank of the Seine where it bends at the Île Saint-Germain across the river from Sèvres. Now part of the western suburbs of Paris, Billancourt was in Sisley’s day a busy staging area for barges and boats as they prepared to bring products and raw materials into the city. The working character of the river Seine was one of Sisley’s favorite subjects, and as in the Dixon picture, he typically painted it with his busy, even frenetic brushwork.