Bristol Channel From Penarth, Evening

English landscape by Alfred SisleyAfred Sisley (1839-1899) was and English landscape painter and early English Impressionist. Prior to 1870, his family’s wealth permitted him a life of leisure where painting was a hobby and not a profession. In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War led to the loss of the family business and forced Sisley to try to parlay his painting into a way to support his family. Bristol Channel from Penarth, Evening was completed in 1879. Unfortunately for Sisley, Impressionism was slower to gain a foothold in England and it wasn’t until his death that his works began to become popular.

Despite struggling to put food on the table, Sisley continued to produce Impressionistic landscapes like this one off the coast of Penarth. The lovely blue waters appear to gently lap at the shore as two people and a dog walk along the beach. Lush wild grasses, wildflowers and bushes grow in profusion on the cliff overlooking the beach. Off in the distance appears to be a structure of some kind. Might it be the Lavernock Battery which had been completed only several years earlier in 1870?

During the Victorian Era, Penarth and her beaches became a popular recreational area. This painting by Sisley, exemplifies why the region was marketed as “The Garden by the Sea.” I seems a reasonable guess that Sisley captured this beautiful Welsh coast on canvas in hopes of catching the eye of someone who had spent their holiday at the seaside resort.