The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot was published in October, 2012, and I began this blog, The Hammock, in September of that year.
In these past six years, French painter James Tissot and his work have become increasingly familiar to the public.
I have publicized my novel and my blog on the Internet and social media, engaging with a worldwide audience. Though the majority of my readers are from the United Kingdom, the United States, and France, I am amazed at the tally of countries showing up on my blog readership daily, from Ecuador to Estonia, Iceland to Zimbabwe, Monaco to Nepal.
Readers in the United Kingdom and France are more aware of Tissot and his work, mainly because more of his paintings are on display in public collections in those countries.
Many people elsewhere tell me they had never heard of Tissot before, and many more that they had no idea how beautiful his paintings are. Books on James Tissot and his work can be quite expensive and are not readily available in many public libraries, or even in art museum shops.
After Tissot’s death in 1902, interest in his work declined until Victorian art regained popularity in the 1960s.
In 1968, there was a major retrospective of his work in Rhode Island and Toronto, and another in London in 1983-84. In 2015-16, there was an exhibition of his work – the first ever – in Rome (James Tissot is now in Italy!).
Recent museum exhibitions have made it possible for a wider audience to view Tissot’s work. (See Tissot in the new millenium: Museum Exhibitions, A spotlight on Tissot at the Met’s “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity”, and A spotlight on Tissot at the Tate’s “The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London”.)
Much of Tissot’s work is privately owned (for instance, see James Tissot in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection). There are only ninety oil paintings by James Tissot in public art collections worldwide: twenty-six in the U.K., two in the Republic of Ireland, twenty-three in France, one in Belgium, one in Switzerland, twenty-five in the continental U.S. and one in Puerto Rico, six in Canada, one in India, two in New Zealand, and two in Australia. Many of these pictures are not, or not often, on display, and opportunities to see them in other locations are rare. Of these ninety, I’ve viewed forty-two, as well as two in private collections.
The most recent museum acquisitions highlight Tissot’s most stunning work. The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their children (1865) was acquired from the family by the Musée d’Orsay in 2006; the first time it had been exhibited anywhere else since 1866 was in the blockbuster exhibition, Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity. Click this link to an interactive image for a closer look.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, in Los Angeles, California, acquired Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née, Thérèse Feuillant (1866) from the family in 2007. Tissot received permission from her husband, who had commissioned the portrait, to display it at the 1867 Paris International Exhibition, where this private image was seen by the public for the first time – the only time, until the Getty purchased it. I saw this gorgeous painting in May, 2013, when it was on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity. You can click this link to an interactive image for a closer look.
In 1868, most likely due to the Marquis de Miramon, Tissot was commissioned to paint the most lucrative and elaborate painting of his career, a group portrait of the twelve members of The Circle of the Rue Royale. The members decided who would own the painting through a drawing; the winner was Baron Hottinger, seated to the right of the sofa. The Musée d’Orsay acquired The Circle of the Rue Royale in 2011 from Baron Hottinguer’s descendants for about 4 million euros. It also was included with Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, and as with Tissot’s other two large paintings, it drew crowds. (See Tissot in the new millenium: Museum Acquisitions.)
Writing this blog is a labor of love, a way to share some of my research on James Tissot’s life and work, and is limited only by the necessity of avoiding copyrighted images. Since I began six years ago, more high resolution, Open Access images have been made available, notably through The Getty Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
My husband, who has become an informed fan of Tissot’s work, photographs me with it and often takes excellent close-ups of Tissot’s brushwork and details.
While conducting research for the blog, I’ve enjoyed a private tour of Tissot’s former home in London (now a family residence; see A visit to James Tissot’s house & Kathleen Newton’s grave), trips to the U.K. including The James Tissot Tour of Victorian England and A spotlight on Tissot at the Tate’s “The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London”, and a tour of Paris highlighting places Tissot would have lived and visited (The James Tissot Tour of Paris). I’ve met museum curators and research librarians for private tours and discussions, and I’ve viewed stored Tissot paintings and drawings (see James Tissot’s “A Civic Procession” (c. 1879), Tissot in the U.S.: The Speed Museum, Kentucky, and Tissot’s Study for “Young Women looking at Japanese Objects” (1869)).
I’ve visited museums and galleries, large and small, in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and France, studying Tissot’s paintings, for my “A Closer Look” series, in which I share my (and my husband’s) photographs and experiences with you. Another series of articles explores Tissot’s work in various countries and regions within them; a subsequent series follows Tissot’s work and reputation in the decades between his death and the new millennium; another highlights masculine fashion in Tissot’s paintings; yet another focuses on various stages of Tissot’s work:
I’ve collected little-known items of interest about Tissot’s works, such as the near-destruction of one of his most beautiful images, Still on Top (c. 1874), in the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in New Zealand, in Tissot around the world: India, Japan, Australia & New Zealand, and the existence of Tissot’s Study for the family of the Marquis de Miramon (1865).
I’ve presented sales information, including For sale: In the Conservatory (Rivals), c. 1875, by James Tissot, For sale: A Visit to the Yacht, c. 1873, by James Tissot, and Tissot in the new millennium: Oils at Auction, as well as a comparison of the market value of Tissot’s work and that of his contemporaries, in The Stars of Victorian Painting: Auction Prices. I also researched Oil paintings by James Tissot registered with the Nazi Era Provenance Internet Portal (NEPIP).
In other posts, I’ve presented little-known information about Tissot himself: Tissot’s Romances, Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?, Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?, and More “Plagiarists”: Tissot’s friends Manet, Degas, Whistler & Others. You’ll find plenty of articles on Tissot’s beautiful young mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton, including James Tissot’s Model and Muse, Kathleen Newton, James Tissot Domesticated, and James Tissot in the 1940s: La Mystérieuse is identified.
And, of course, I’ve addressed The Missing Tissot Nudes!
Of my 152 posts, varying in length from about 500 to 3500 words, here are the Top Ten with the highest readership on my blog, as of October 12, 2018:
While I began my research on James Tissot in 2009, when drafting my novel, it’s been in the six years since I launched this blog that I’ve been contacted by individuals with unexpected, wonderful, documented facts to share related to James Tissot and his work, including biographical details of people he knew, information on his Paris villa, close-up photographs of some of Tissot’s works I have not been able to visit, a hot tip on an unannounced, temporary exhibition of three of his privately-owned masterpieces at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford last year, and the name of a celebrity owner* of one of his most recognizable paintings, as well as the gift of a scholarly work by a Tissot-loving museum curator I befriended through my blog. All of this spontaneous generosity is a remarkable feature of the support I’ve enjoyed.
So, a heartfelt thank you – to all of you who read my blog, and to my husband, who contributes such helpful images to it. Through it, I’ve met the loveliest people, was invited to serve as a guest blogger, a contributor to The Victorian Web, and recently was interviewed for an art podcast:
- James Tissot’s Fashion Plates (1864-1878): A Guest Post for Mimi Matthews by Lucy Paquette
- A James Tissot Chronology, by Lucy Paquette for The Victorian Web
- James Tissot (1836-1902): a brief biography by Lucy Paquette for The Victorian Web
- French Painter James Tissot’s British Clients: Rising Industrialists, by Lucy Paquette for The Victorian Web
- Click here to listen to my discussion about James Tissot’s life and art in a podcast interview with Brooke Musterman.
I have built my own library of scholarly works on James Tissot, but they are largely biocritical studies: there is so little documentation on Tissot’s life that his work often has to speak for him. My research centers on finding new information on his personality and actions, particularly during the Franco-Prussian War and Commune, using previously unconsidered primary sources. When his elderly, eccentric niece died in his château in eastern France in 1964, all his papers and drawings were auctioned off. But also, there are very few accounts of him by his contemporaries. In addition, Tissot often seems to fall through the cracks of art history – as his work straddled French academic style, Realism, French Impressionism, and Victorian painting. He left France for eleven years, and while he was successful in London, he was not British. Tissot often is overlooked because he belongs to no category, really, but his own.
James Tissot has a great story that hasn’t been told, and I encourage you to read The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.
James Tissot’s work has proven a crowd-pleaser, in the 2012-13 show Impressionism, Fashion & Modernity; 2013’s James Tissot: Painting the Victorian Woman at The Hepworth, Wakefield, U.K.; the 2015-16 exhibition James Tissot at the Bramante Cloister inside Santa Maria della Pace Church in Rome; and 2017-18’s Impressionists in London.
The most recent retrospective of his work in North America, and the only one since the first in 1968 (in Rhode Island and Toronto), was James Tissot: Victorian Life/Modern Love, an exhibition that began at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1999, and then traveled to the Musée du Québec, Canada, and the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York. But a major retrospective of his work will be held in Paris and San Francisco in 2020. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope to be invited to contribute some of the extensive new scholarship I have to offer on James Tissot’s life and work.
[*] If you’re curious, see Celebrities & Millionaires Vie for Tissot’s Paintings in the 1990s!
© 2018 by Lucy Paquette. All rights reserved.
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The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, brings Tissot’s world from 1870 to 1879 alive in a story of war, art, Society glamour, love, scandal, and tragedy.
Illustrated with 17 stunning, high-resolution fine art images in full color
Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library
(295 pages; ISBN (ePub): 978-0-615-68267-9). See http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.