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SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
SISLEY by the Thames
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GENERAL INTRODUCTION
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This website is a sister-site to ‘wheretheartiststood.co.uk’  and ‘studiosofthesouth.com’ which explore the places around Paris and in other parts of France where leading painters of the Impressionist and Post-impressionist movements lived, worked and found the inspiration to produce some of the most important images in the history of art. The period in question, from approximately 1860 to 1914, saw constant developments and experimentation in the visual arts which challenged established values and sought to create a visual language more able to describe and reflect the world which itself was changing at a rate never experienced before.

It has generally been accepted that France and, in particular, Paris was at the heart of these seismic shifts in the art world and that artists from the United Kingdom, other European countries and indeed those from across the Atlantic played only supporting roles. It is true that many painters from these nations made a bee-line for the ateliers and studios of Paris to be at the cutting-edge of artistic endeavour and to gain exposure to radical thinking. However, the origination and flow of ideas was never all one way and indeed some of the Impressionists were happy to acknowledge the influence of fellow painters from across the Channel, notably Turner and Constable. Art movements were not always imitative of what was happening in France but it cannot be denied that the role-call of significant painters from France in the second half of the nineteenth century is incredible and the title of ‘capital of the art world’ undeniably belongs to Paris.

Developments in printed communication and easier travel between nations and continents, made ideas highly mobile and exchangeable. Works of art became more visible in new public galleries and the burgeoning, and educated, middle classes became influential as an audience for the work of aspiring artists. Some of the incredibly wealthy ‘captains’ of new industries became important patrons and these were to be found in London, New York, Berlin and Moscow, as well as Paris.

London was the heart of a global empire and its influence in the realms of politics, industry, commerce, finance as well as literature and social change made it an essential destination for thinkers about the modern world – be that Marx or Monet. Claude Monet’s paintings of the Houses of Parliament and the bridges across the Thames are some of the most striking images of the city to come from this period.

Late-nineteenth century France was still subject to the consequences of some ‘old-fashioned’ nationalism, in particular the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. This disastrous episode led several artists to seek refuge abroad for a time and Camille Pissarro made his home in the suburbs of London for the duration of the war. Although Alfred Sisley may have spent some of the war here, his other visits were motivated by the fact that his parents both originally came from England.

It is the intention of this site to take the reader on a series of self-guided walks in and around London where pre-eminent French painters found the inspiration for some of their most important works.