The Company He Kept: James Tissot’s Friends

If a person can be known by the company he keeps, James Tissot’s friends indicate he was charming, broad-minded and cultured, interested in music and literature as well as art, resourceful, and unafraid of change.  Described as reserved, he had a strong work ethic and spent a great deal of time working in his studio.  But he seems to have made friends easily and maintained numerous mutually satisfying relationships over many years – with both men and women, of varied ages, religions, backgrounds, and temperaments.

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James Tissot, age 20-21

Jacques Joseph Tissot’s first friend may have been his mother.  When he realized that what he really wanted was a career in art instead of architecture, his businessman father was less than thrilled.  His father told him that if he was determined to pursue this unreliable profession, he was going to have to make it on his own – with no financial help.  But his mother found a connection for him in Paris, and Jacques left home at 19, in 1856 (i.e before he turned 20 that October).

Within three years of his arrival in Paris, Tissot was ready to exhibit his work at the Salon.  Competing with established artists, the 23-year-old student submitted five entries for the Salon of 1859.  The jury accepted them all, including Portrait de Mme T…, a small oil painting of his mother.  With her belief in him, his career in the capital of the European art world was launched.

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James Whistler

When Jacques Joseph Tissot exhibited in the Salon, it was as James Tissot – and it’s likely he borrowed the name from another young art student, James Whistler.

It is thought that when Tissot registered for permission to copy paintings at the Louvre on January 26, 1857, he met the pugnacious American James McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903), reportedly while copying Ingres’ 1819 Ruggiero Freeing Angelica side by side in the Luxembourg Museum.

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Self-Portrait with White Collar (c. 1857), by Edgar Degas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Photo by Lucy Paquette)

In 1859, Tissot met another art student, with whom he became close friends – Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917).  Degas, the curmudgeonly son of a prosperous banker from Naples and a mother from New Orleans, had spent the previous three years traveling in central Italy.  Probably through Degas, Tissot soon met the charismatic, restless Édouard Manet (1832–1883).

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Lawrence Alma-Tadema

In 1859, Tissot traveled to Antwerp, augmenting his art education by taking lessons in the studio of Belgian painter Hendrik Leys.  There he made friends with a young Dutch art student working with Leys, Lourens Tadema (1836 – 1912; the painter moved to London in 1870 and restyled himself Lawrence Alma-Tadema).

Alma-Tadema’s personality combined middle-class sensibilities with a ribald sense of humor.  He was an extrovert who loved wine, women, music, and practical jokes.

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Édouard Manet

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Emmanuel Chabrier, by Édouard Manet

Though still living in the dilapidated Latin Quarter at 29, Tissot was enjoying increasing professional success and was described as a boulevardier – a man-about-town.  In addition to painters, his friends included the poet Camille-André Lemoyne (1822 – 1907), “a man of modesty and merit” who dedicated a published poem, “Baigneuse,” to Tissot in 1860, and composer, pianist and bon vivant Emmanuel Chabrier (1841 – 1894), whose portrait Tissot drew in 1861.  His circles often overlapped; Chabrier, for example, was friends with Degas and Manet as well.

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John Everett Millais

In 1862, Tissot traveled to London, where the first exhibition of his work was at the International Exhibition.  He showed one of his début paintings from the Paris Salon of 1859, and he must have met Britain’s most popular painter, John Everett Millais (1829  1896).  Warm-hearted, boyish, and boundlessly self-confident, Millias had a wife and five children to provide for by this time.  He found a steady source of income drawing illustrations, for periodicals such as Once a Week and The Cornhill Magazine as well as Tennyson’s Poems (1857) and Anthony Trollope’s novel Framley Parsonage (1860).  James Tissot, at 26, having inherited his parents’ business sense, was exploring a new art market and making useful contacts.

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Alphonse Daudet

In 1863, Tissot became close friends with Alphonse Daudet (1840 – 1897), a young writer who had published a volume of poetry (The Lovers) in 1858, and who rented the room below him in the rue Bonaparte.  Daudet, who was kind, hard-working, generous and sociable, was employed as a secretary to the Duc de Morny, the Emperor’s illegitimate half-brother who served as a powerful appointed minister.  He eventually became wealthy from his novels, in which he wrote about the poor and downtrodden with sympathy, and his friendship with Tissot was a lifelong one.

In 1864, the year Millais was elected a member of the Royal Academy, Tissot again exhibited work in London:  two pictures on display at the Society of British Artists, and a small oil painting at the Royal Academy Exhibition.  In France, Tissot associated, loosely, with a band of artistic rebels led by Manet – men who met at the Café de Bade to debate the purpose of art and express their frustration with the rigidity of the Paris art Establishment.  But Tissot was a traditionalist at heart.  He must have admired Millais – as a man, as a painter, and as a successful businessman.  In 1865, Tom Taylor’s Ballads and Songs of Brittany was published in London, illustrated by several artists including Millais and Tissot, who provided the Frontispiece and further widened his reputation in Great Britain.

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Ernest Meissonier

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Ferdinand Heilbuth

In 1866, the thirty-year-old artist bought land to build a villa on the most prestigious of Baron Haussmann’s grand new Parisian boulevards, the eleven-year-old avenue de l’Impératrice (now avenue Foch).  By the Salon of 1868, Tissot had occupied his newly built, elegant mansion in the splendid avenue, the place to see and be seen amid the heady delights of life in the imperial capital.  But an early biographer asserted that there were no parties or receptions in this home, as Tissot dreaded the noise; he hosted only quiet gatherings with intimates such as Degas, eminent painter and sculptor Ernest Meissonier (1815 –1891), and painter Ferdinand Heilbuth (1826 – 1889).

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Alfred Stevens

Tissot and wildly successful Belgian painter Alfred Stevens (1823 –1906) moved in the same social circle, which included Manet, Degas, Frédéric Bazille, Berthe Morisot and Whistler as well as Alma-Tadema.  Stevens and his wife held regular receptions at their home on Wednesdays.  Tissot may have preferred quiet evenings with his friends in his new villa, but in early 1868, he scribbled a hurried message to Degas on the back of a used envelope when he found Degas away from his studio:  “I shall be at Stevens’ house tonight.”  He had dropped by to give Degas advice on finishing a problematic painting-in-progress, Interior (The Rape) before the Salon deadline.

Tissot appears to have been content to live well and maintain a fairly low profile in the art world he had conquered within a decade of his arrival as a provincial art student.  Oddly, there are almost no references to Tissot in letters, journals or accounts of his chatty friends and acquaintances during this time, even though his studio was a chic gathering place, and it is likely he visited crowded, gossipy weekly soirées such as those hosted by Madame Manet (Edouard’s formidable mother) on Tuesdays, the Stevenses on Wednesdays, and Madame Morisot (Berthe’s formidable mother) on Thursdays.

In 1869, Tissot began contributing political cartoons to the newest Society journal in London, Vanity Fair, founded by Thomas Gibson Bowles (1841 – 1922).  Tommy Bowles was the illegitimate son of Thomas Milner Gibson (1806 – 1884), a Liberal MP for Manchester and President of the Board of Trade from 1859 to 1866, and a servant, Susannah Bowles.  Tommy’s father (and even his father’s wife, Arethusa Susannah, a Society hostess who was the daughter of Sir Thomas Gery Cullum of Hardwick House, Suffolk, and their six children) acknowledged him.  Tissot, at 33, was famous in Paris.  Tommy, a handsome blue-eyed blonde, was five or six years younger and making a name for himself, even in France, with his controversial articles in London’s Morning Post.

It is strange, the life Tissot led – an exclusive address and titled patrons in Paris and yet close friends with the individualistic, struggling Edgar Degas (who ceased to exhibit in the Salon after this year, due to his discontent with it), the illegitimate and irreverent London publisher Tommy Bowles, and the renegade James Whistler, who was considered belligerent and uncouth by this time.

It seems that James Tissot was a peaceable, refined, and multifaceted gentleman, truly his own man – in a world about to implode.

The Franco-Prussian War united Tissot and Tommy Bowles, who raced to Paris as a war correspondent.  Because there were not enough French troops, a National Guard – a volunteer militia independent of the regular army – was forming to defend Paris.  On Friday, September 9, 1870, Tommy was surveying the scene of Garde Mobile squads drilling or wandering around along the avenue de l’Impératrice [near James Tissot’s sumptuous villa at No. 64], “when my hand was suddenly seized, and I found myself talking to one of my smartest Parisian friends [James Tissot] who had donned the blue uniform like everybody else.  He was delighted to see me.”  Tissot gamely promised that if there was a sortie, he would make sure that Tommy had the chance to see some action.  [Tissot scholar Willard E. Misfeldt learned that James Tissot actually had enlisted in the Garde Nationale de la Seine, the Fourth Company of the Eighteenth Battalion, in 1855 – as soon as he had arrived in Paris at age 19.]

In early October, military operations blocked access to Tissot’s new villa, and he turned up at Bowles’ rented apartments.  Tommy observed affectionately of his friend, “We neither of us have got any money left, but we propose to support each other by our mutual credit…and to share our last rat together.  Meantime we are not greatly to be pitied.  Our joint domestic, Jean, one of those handy creatures yet to be invented in England, makes our beds, scrubs the floor, brushes the clothes, cooks like a cordon bleu, and is, as we believe and fervently hope, capable of producing any explanation or invention that may be required by persons in search of payment.  He has been especially successful as regards meat.”  The British journalist and the French painter shared a mischievous sense of humor, numerous dangerous sorties – and strong survival instincts.

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The Tirailleurs de la Seine at the Battle of Rueil-Malmaison, 21st October 1870 (1875), by Étienne-Prosper Berne-Bellecour. (Oil on canvas, 103×203 cm; Château de Versailles, France; Giraudon). Photo courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” by Lucy Paquette © 2012

On October 21, 1870, the men in Tissot’s unit – the Éclaireurs of the Seine, an elite unit of scouts and snipers (tirailleurs) – “one and all Parisians of the purest type” according to Tommy Bowles – were sent to fight in the Battle of Malmaison (also referred to as the Battle of Rueil-Malmaison, or La Jonchère, for the nearby towns), west of Paris.  [See James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71.]

During the war, James Tissot fought with valor on the front line, and he later volunteered as a Red Cross stretcher-bearer.  Then he became involved in the bloody civil uprising that followed, the Paris Commune.  He fled to London with a hundred francs in his pocket.  There, he had plenty of friends to help him rebuild his life.

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Chichester Fortescue

Besides Tommy Bowles, there was Frances, Countess Waldegrave (1821 – 1879), an influential Liberal Society hostess whose fourth and final husband was Chichester Fortescue (1823 – 1898), an Irish MP, who became Lord Carlingford.  Tissot may have met her through Millais, who frequented her salons.  She shared Tissot’s interest in spiritualism and painting, and at some point, Tissot painted her portrait in her boudoir.  (The portrait, whereabouts unknown, was not considered a good likeness.)

In 1871 – shortly after Tissot fled Paris – the charming and “irresistible” Countess Waldegrave pulled strings to get Tissot a lucrative commission to paint a full-length portrait of Fortescue, which was funded by a group of eighty-one Irishmen including forty-nine MPs, five Roman Catholic bishops and twenty-seven peers to commemorate his term as Chief Secretary for Ireland under Gladstone – as a present to his wife.

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Ouida

Tissot also was friendly with Society novelist Ouida (Maria Louise Ramé, 1839 – 1908); on June 19, 1871, she sent him an invitation to visit on June 21, with the promise that “some English artists will enjoy the great pleasure of meeting you & seeing your sketches.”  Described as having a “sinister, clever face” and a “voice like a carving knife,” Ouida lived in the Langham Hotel, where surrounded by purple flowers, she wrote on large sheets of violet-colored notepaper in bed by candlelight.  Her lavish soirées included celebrities such as Oscar Wilde, J.E. Millais. Algernon Charles Swinburne, and Wilkie Collins, along with dozens of handsome guard officers.

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The Captain and the Mate, (1873), by James Tissot. The Captain and the Mate (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 53.6 by 76.2 cm. Private Collection. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” © 2012 Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, © 2012

Once Tissot moved to London in 1871, he continually sought “British” subject matter, always offering it up with a French twist.  He soon found a friend in Captain John Freebody (1834 – 1899), master of the Arundel Castle from 1872-73, when he took emigrants to America.  Captain Freebody’s wife, Margaret Kennedy (1840 – 1930), modeled for The Captain’s Daughter, set at the Falcon Tavern in Gravesend.  Tissot exhibited The Captain’s Daughter, as well as two other paintings [The Last Evening (1873) and Too Early (1873)], at the Royal Academy in 1873.

Two other paintings featuring Margaret Kennedy are in a private collection:  Boarding the Yacht (1873) and The Captain and the Mate (1873), in which Margaret’s older brother, red-bearded Captain Lumley Kennedy (1819 – 1899), and her sister posed as well.   Tissot, having grown up in the bustling seaport of Nantes, where his father was a successful wholesale linen draper (a trader in fabrics and dress trimmings to retailers and exporters), must have felt quite comfortable with sailors and their families.

Within a few years of hard work and help from such friends, Tissot bought the leasehold to a house in St. John’s Wood, at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road, and built an extension with a studio and a conservatory.  A handsome and talented 35-year-old Parisian, he earned and returned the respect of intelligent and capable women.

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Louise Jopling

British painter Louise Jopling (1843 – 1933) lived in Paris from 1865 to 1869, when her ne’er-do-well husband, Frank Romer, was sent packing by his employer, Baron de Rothschild.  Louise had been painting with the encouragement of the Baroness, a watercolor artist, and after moving to London, Louise continued painting despite numerous hardships.  Her work was exhibited at the Royal Academy exhibitions after 1870, and she met “that extraordinarily clever French artist, James Tissot,” when his
picture, Too Early, “made a great sensation” at the 1873 exhibition.  Tissot gave her a sketch of Gravesend he made that year.  In her 1925 autobiography, Louise wrote of him, “James Tissot was a charming man, very handsome.”

Louise proved to be an excellent source of information on Tissot’s personality, including this anecdote about a day they spent with Ferdinand Heilbuth.  She wrote, “Heilbuth was a delightful man as well as an excellent painter.  He was a great friend of Tissot…One day, before I was married, he arrived at my studio and said he had a letter from Tissot, who begged him to come round to me and try to induce [my sister] Alice and I to come spend the day at Greenwich where he was painting his charming pictures of scenes by the Thames.  I was to bring my sketching materials.  I had promised [my fiancé] Joe to give him a sitting for my portrait, but it was much too delightful a project not to be accepted with fervor.  I wired to Joe, “Called out of town on business.”

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Berthe Morisot, by Édouard Manet

Berthe Morisot (1841 – 1895) also appreciated Tissot.   He socialized frequently in 1875, inviting Berthe Morisot to dinner at his home in St. John’s Wood when she was in England for her honeymoon.  She wrote to her sister, Edma Pontillon, “We went to see Tissot, who does very pretty things that he sells at high prices; he is living like a king.  We dined there.  He is very nice, a very good fellow, though a little vulgar.  We are on the best of terms; I paid him many compliments, and he really deserves them.”

During the same trip, Berthe wrote to her mother, “[I was dragged out of bed] just now by a letter from Tissot – an invitation to dinner for tomorrow night.  I had to get up and ransack everything to find a clean sheet of paper in order to reply.”  Later, she added, “He was very amiable, and complimented me although he has probably never seen any of my work.”

In 1873, Tissot joined the Arts Club in Hanover Square, and in 1875, Italian painter Giuseppe De Nittis (1846 –1884) wrote to his wife, Léontine, “I saw Tissot at the club, he was very nice, very friendly.”

In 1874, Degas invited both Tissot and De Nittis to display their work in the first exhibition by the French artists who would become known as the Impressionists.  Tissot was achieving success in London and declined, but De Nittis accepted.

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Sir Julius Benedict

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Self-Portrait, Giuseppe Di Nittis

Another member of the Arts Club with whom Tissot was friendly was Sir Julius Benedict (1804 – 1885), the German-born composer and conductor who is portrayed as the pianist in Tissot’s Hush! (The Concert, 1875).  The son of a Jewish banker, Benedict became a naturalised Englishman and was knighted in 1871.

After spending several weeks in Venice with Manet, Tissot dined at his friend Jimmy Whistler’s three-storey townhouse in Lindsey Row, Chelsea on November 16, 1875 with Alan S. Cole (1846 – 1934, a lace and textile expert who was the son of Sir Henry Cole, the first director of the South Kensington Museum, now the V&A), independent-minded, outspoken painter Albert Moore (1841 – 1893) and Captain Crabb (commander of The Brazilian in 1870) on topics such as “ideas on art unfettered by principles.”

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George Adolphus Storey

On December 7, Tissot returned to dine with Jimmy, his patron Cyril Flower (1843 – 1907, later Lord Battersea), and painter George Adolphus Storey (1834 – 1919); they conversed on the works of Balzac.

Storey, in his 1899 memoirs, described a high-spirited “railway picnic party” in 1873 with men he referred to as intellectuals:  Tissot, Heilbuth, Philip Hermogenes Calderon, R.A. (1833 – 1898), George Dunlop Leslie, A.R.A. (1835 – 1921), David Wilkie Wynfield (1837–1887), William Yeames, A.R.A. (1835 – 1918), Frederick Walker (1840 – 1875), editor Shirley Brooks (1816 – 1874) and “the Punch men,” pianist, conductor and composer Frederic Hymen Cowen (1852 – 1935), and a host of others returning from a grand house party in Manchester hosted by art dealer William Agnew (1825 – 1910).  Opera star Charles Santley (1834 – 1922), Storey added, “sang us many of his delightful songs.”

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Mavourneen (Portrait of Kathleen Newton, 1877). Oil on canvas, 36 in. /91.44 cm. by 20 in./50.80 cm. Photo courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” © 2012 by Lucy Paquette

As desirable he was as a guest, Tissot must have enjoyed entertaining in his turn.  Louise Jopling noted of Tissot, “At one time he was very hospitable, and delightful were the dinners he gave.  But these ceased when he became absorbed in a grande passion with a married woman.”

Around 1876, Tissot met Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882), an Irish divorcée in her early twenties with a four-year-old daughter and a son born on March 21, 1876.  [See James Tissot’s Model and Muse, Kathleen Newton and Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?]  Being Roman Catholic, Tissot and Kathleen could not marry, but she moved into his house in St. John’s Wood.

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Sir Charles Wyndham

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Sir Henry Irving

Kathleen’s two children lived with her sister’s family around the corner, and they and their cousins visited Kathleen and Tissot regularly.  Tissot’s social life drastically changed, and he must have judged his love affair with the discarded young beauty well worth the sacrifice.  Though cohabitation was common in Victorian England, especially in bohemian circles, it was not socially acceptable to most people in the middle and upper classes.

Though Tissot and Mrs. Newton were not invited out, their friendship was valued, and plenty of lively friends sought their company.  One of Kathleen’s nieces, interviewed as an adult, recalled, “Whistler and Oscar Wilde, with his brother Willie, were constant visitors,” as were actor Henry Irving (1838 – 1905), actor-manager Charles Wyndham (1837 – 1919), and actress Miss Mary Moore (1860 – 1931, who became Wyndham’s second wife in 1916, the year he was widowed).  Tommy Bowles, his longtime friend, remained a frequent visitor and introduced others including landscape painter William Stone (c. 1840 – 1913), who “often had tea in the garden with Tissot and the lady.”  Stone, perhaps revealing the essence of Tissot’s charm, observed, “Tissot was quite a boulevardier and could not grasp our somewhat puritanical outlook.”

© 2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Related posts:

On his own: Tissot as a Paris art student, 1855 — 1858

James Tissot & Tommy Bowles Brave the Siege Together: October 1870

James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71

James Tissot the Collector:  His works by Degas, Manet & Pissarro

James Tissot and Alfred Stevens

James Tissot: Portraits of the Artist

CH377762If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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.

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James Tissot: Portraits of the Artist

Bingham_-_James_Tissot_01We know so little of James Tissot (1836 – 1902) outside of his work; his personal papers were destroyed, and he had no disciples to carry on and burnish his reputation.

But there are several photographs of him, and his self-portraits.

This photograph, made by Robert Jefferson Bingham (1825 – 1870), was made shortly after Tissot arrived in Paris, in 1855 at age 19.

Bingham, an English photographer, showed nineteen photographs at The Great Exhibition of 1851, and also made photographs of the Exposition Universelle of 1855 in Paris.  In 1857, Bingham moved to Paris and opened an atelier in the artistic quarter of Nouvelle Athènes.  So it is likely that Tissot was 20 or 21 in this photo, a dapper and ambitious young art student from the provinces quickly establishing himself in the competitive art world of the capital.  He appears considerably more sophisticated than he presents himself in a self-portrait as a monk a few years later, c. 1859.

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A photograph of James Tissot was made about 1865 by Étienne Carjat (1828 –1906), a French journalist, caricaturist and photographer who co-founded the magazine Le Diogène and founded the review Le Boulevard.  But Carjat is best known for his numerous portraits and caricatures of Parisian political, literary and artistic figures.  In 1860, he opened a photography studio at 56 rue Laffitte, which he operated for 20 years.  Carjat received a medal for his photographs in the Salon of 1863.  While he did not achieve the fame of Nadar, he did capture the personalities of his sitters, who included Gioacchino Rossini, Alexandre Dumas (père), Emile Zola, Charles Baudelaire, Sarah Bernhardt, Gustave Courbet and Victor Hugo.  Carjat was a friend of Henri Fantin-Latour, and it was probably through him that he met James McNeill Whistler in Paris in April 1863.  Around 1865, Carjat made two cartes-de-visite photographs of Whistler, who had been friends with Tissot since about 1857.

In Carjat’s photograph, Tissot is about 29 years old.  He was earning 70,000 francs a year as an easel painter, and he produced another self-portrait at this time.

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Self portrait (1865), by James Tissot, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA, USA. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, by Lucy Paquette © 2012

At the Paris Salon in 1866, Tissot was elected hors concours: from then on, he could exhibit any painting he wished at the annual Salon without first submitting his work to the jury’s scrutiny. The price for his pictures skyrocketed. At 30, he decided to purchase property on the most prestigious new thoroughfare in Paris, the avenue de l’Impèratrice (Empress Avenue, now avenue Foch). By late 1867 or early 1868, Tissot was living in grand style in his luxurious new villa.

In 1867-68, Tissot’s friend Edgar Degas painted him, and this detail from a carte-de-visite photograph reflects his appearance at the time.  Tissot was described as having “a shock of jet-black hair, a drooping Mongolian mustache, an excellent tailor, and a small private fortune.”

 

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Portrait of James Jacques Joseph Tissot (c. 1867-68), by Edgar Degas.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  Rogers Fund, 1939.  (Photo:  Open Access).

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After winning the right – at age 30 – to exhibit anything he wished at the Salons, and busy with commissions from his aristocratic patrons, Tissot did not need to kowtow to the critics.  He began painting light-hearted, sexually suggestive pictures, which would have been shocking in a contemporary context. He safely set them in the years of the French Directory (1795 to 1799), as if they depicted behaviors of a bygone time. One critic at the time observed that Tissot was dapper and personable, but thought him a little pretentious and a less-than-great artist “because he did what he wanted to do and as he wished to do it.” Tissot, having made his own way to the top of his profession, probably was a little smug in his success.

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Study for James Jacques Joseph Tissot (c. 1867-68), by Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas.  Prepared chalk on tan wove paper. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Cesar M. de Hauke.  (Photo:  Open Access)

When the Second Empire collapsed on September 2, 1870, Tissot’s charmed life in Paris ended.  He became a sharpshooter, defending Paris in an elite unit, the Éclaireurs (Scouts) of the Seine.  [See James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71.]  In the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War  the bloody Commune in mid-1871 – James Tissot fled Paris with 100 francs to his name, establishing himself in the competitive London art market by catering to the British taste.  By 1873, he bought the lease on a spacious villa in St. John’s Wood, soon building an extension with a studio and huge conservatory.

He declined Degas’s exhortation to show his work in Paris with the independent group of French artists who organized their first of eight exhibitions in Paris in 1874 and who soon became known as Impressionists.  But Tissot and Edouard Manet travelled to Venice together in the fall of 1874, and Tissot bought Manet’s Blue Venice on March 24, 1875 for 2,500 francs.  Manet badly needed the income.  Tissot hung the painting in his home in St. John’s Wood, London, and tried to interest English dealers in Manet’s work.  [For more on how Tissot tried to help his friends, see James Tissot the Collector:  His works by Degas, Manet & Pissarro.]

A few of his contemporaries described him at this time.  Berthe Morisot, in an 1875 letter to her sister, Edma Pontillon, wrote, “We went to see Tissot, who does very pretty things that he sells at high prices; he is living like a king.  We dined there.  He is very nice, a very good fellow, though a little vulgar.  We are on the best of terms; I paid him many compliments, and he really deserves them.”  During the same trip, Morisot wrote to her mother, “[Tissot] is turning out excellent pictures.  He sells for as much as 300,000 francs at a time.  What do you think of his success in London?   He was very amiable, and complimented me although he has probably never seen any of my work.”

371px-Franz_von_Teck, Duke of Teck

Francis, Duke of Teck (1837 – 1900)

The same year, painter Giuseppe De Nittis wrote to his wife, Léontine, “I saw Tissot at the club, he was very nice, very friendly.”

Alan S. Cole wrote in his diary, on November 16, 1875, “Dined with Jimmy [Whistler]: Tissot, A[lbert] Moore and Captain Crabb.  Lovely blue and white china – and capital small dinner. General conversation and ideas on art unfettered by principles.”

British painter Louise Jopling (1843 – 1933) wrote, “James Tissot was a charming man, very handsome, extraordinarily like the Duke [then, Prince] of Teck.  He was always well groomed, and had nothing of artistic carelessness either in his dress or demeanor…he was very hospitable, and delightful were the dinners he gave.”

James_Tissot_-_Photo_010, at easel in 40s

By 1876, James Tissot again had earned great wealth and lived in relative seclusion for six years with his mistress and muse, young divorcée Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854 – 1882).  [See James Tissot Domesticated and James Tissot’s Model and Muse, Kathleen Newton.]  In this photograph, Tissot is in his forties, painting in his studio.  French writer and critic Edmond de Goncourt (1822 – 1896) described him as having “a large, unintelligent skull and the eyes of a boiled fish.”  It was in late 1874 that Goncourt wrote in his journal, “Tissot, that plagiarist painter, has had the greatest success in England.  Was it not his idea, this ingenious exploiter of English idiocy, to have a studio with a waiting room, where, at all times, there is iced champagne at the disposal of visitors, and around the studio, a garden where, all day long, one can see a footman in silk stockings brushing and shining the shrubbery leaves?”  Nevertheless, Goncourt relied on Tissot to illustrate Renée Mauperin, a novel written with his brother Jules (published in 1884).  Kathleen Newton modeled for the heroine.

In the photograph below, Tissot poses for Waiting for the Ferry (c. 1878) in his garden at Grove End Road with Kathleen Newton and her children, Muriel Violet Newton and Cecil Newton.

Tissot_and_Newton photo, ferry

300px-James_Tissot_-_Photo_005, old man in chair

Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis at Tissot’s St. John’s Wood home in November, 1882, and he immediately moved back to his Paris villa.  He tried, and failed, to recapture his early success before embarking on an ambitious new project.  In 1885-86, he made his first trip to Palestine to research his illustrated Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In the above photograph, c. 1890, Tissot was in his mid-fifties.  His self-portrait in watercolor, below, was painted around the same time.

portrait-of-the-pilgrim-1894

Portrait of the Pilgrim (1886-1896), by James Tissot.  Self-portrait in watercolor and graphite.  Brooklyn Museum, New York.

In 1896, Tissot exhibited his complete Life of Christ series in London.  His La Vie de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ was published in France, with the artist receiving a million francs for reproduction rights.

He embarked on his third trip to Palestine to begin an illustrated Old Testament (which would be published in 1904, two years after his death).  On the ship, English artist George Percy Jacomb-Hood (1857-1929) encountered Tissot and found him “a very neatly dressed, elegant figure, with a grey military moustache and beard, [who] always appeared on deck gloved and groomed as if for the boulevard.”

400px-James_Tissot_-_Photo_017, old man leaning against building

James Tissot’s father died in 1888, leaving him the Château de Buillon, near Besançon in eastern France.  During his remaining years, he lived partly in Paris and partly at the Château, improving the building and grounds.  The photograph above was made of Tissot around 1898.  He must have been experimenting with poses for his self-portrait of that year (below, right).

446px-James_Tissot_-_Photo_02, old man leaning on tree       Tissot_self_detail, 1898 leaning on tree

James Tissot died in 1902, at age 66, extremely wealthy and renowned for what was considered his great masterpiece, The Life of Christ illustrations. In his obituary in The Evening Post, Tissot was compared to William Blake, though “uniting as Blake never did, and as no other prominent artist has done, the mystical and ideal with an intense realism.”

An early biographer who knew him briefly, Georges Bastard (1881 – 1939), wrote that Tissot “was as reserved as the cut of his coat.”  No bon mots have been recorded, nor anecdotes by contemporaries who may have encountered Tissot at Second Empire receptions or balls – just a bit of jealous carping about his success.  While certainly not a reticent man, James Tissot could not have been a gregarious one.  He was determined to succeed on his own terms, and he did.  His work continues to fascinate us, and it alone must speak for him.

Related posts:

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

James Tissot the Collector:  His works by Degas, Manet & Pissarro

Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?

Tissot’s Romances

©  2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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.

James Tissot’s Model and Muse, Kathleen Newton

Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854 – 1882) first appeared in James Tissot’s paintings in 1876.  Who was she?  All we have to know her by are a few biographical facts researched by Tissot scholar Willard E. Misfeldt (b. 1930) and others, and dozens of paintings of Kathleen Newton by James Tissot.

According to Dr. Misfeldt, Kathleen Irene Kelly was born in May or June of 1854 in Agra, India.  Her mother, Flora W. Boyd, passed away, and she and her brother, Frederick, and elder sister, Mary Pauline (“Polly,” 1851/52 – 1896), were the responsibility of their father, Charles Frederick Kelly (1810 – 1885).  Mr. Kelly had been employed at the accountant’s office of the British East India Company in Agra from age 21 or 22 until his retirement to Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, in 1866.  At some point around mid-1860, the family began to use Ashburnham as a middle name.  Kathleen and Mary Pauline were sent back to England to be educated at Gumley House Convent School, Isleworth.  When Kathleen was sixteen, a marriage was arranged for her, and she returned to India to marry Dr. Isaac Newton, a surgeon in the Indian civil service.

Dr. Misfeldt skirts the issue of what happened next, but after the wedding on January 3, 1871, the young bride is said to have followed the advice of the local priest and confessed to her new husband that while travelling on the ship to India, she had been involved with a Captain Palliser.  She was sent back to England, gave birth to a daughter, Muriel Violet Mary Newton, in Conisbrough on December 20, and was officially divorced (decree nisi) by December 30.  At some point, she moved in with her sister Polly, by then married and living with her two young daughters, Belle and Lilian, at 6 Hill Road, St. John’s Wood, London.  There Kathleen gave birth to a son, Cecil George Newton, on March 21, 1876.  (It is said that Polly’s husband, Mr. Hervey, was in the Indian civil service.)

James Tissot had left Paris following the bloody Commune in 1871, and by early 1873, he had bought the lease on a medium-sized, two-storey Queen Anne-style villa, built of red brick with white Portland stone dressing, at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood.

The residents of the comfortable suburban homes around the Regent’s Park and the district of St. John’s Wood, west of the park, were merchants, bankers and lawyers.  Tissot’s house was set in a large and private garden separating him from the horse traffic, omnibuses and pedestrians on their way to the park or the still-new Underground Railway station nearby.  Kathleen lived just around the corner, and legend has it that she met Tissot while mailing a letter at a postbox.

WAK41966

On the Thames (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.5 by 46.5 in. (72.5 by 118 cm). Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, Wakefield, UK. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot” by Lucy Paquette, © 2012.

In my previous blog post, James Tissot’s Models à la Mode, I indicated that the shadowy face in the center of The Thames (1876), was likely Tissot’s first painting featuring Kathleen Newton, and that she seems to be the model for one of the figures in Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877) as well.

Kathleen modeled for dozens of Tissot’s paintings; soon, he was painting her almost exclusively.  These pictures form a charming chronicle of their years together.  They also portray her rapid evolution from a young beauty travelling with her artist-lover, to a busy, beloved mother, then to a woman struggling with tuberculosis.

Room Overlooking the Harbour, the-athenaeum

In Room Overlooking the Harbor (c. 1876-78) Kathleen is on holiday with Tissot.  He captured her going about her business while an older man (who could be a servant accompanying the couple) gamely models as well.

CH32763

Mavourneen (Portrait of Kathleen Newton, 1877). Oil on canvas, 36 in. /91.44 cm. by 20 in./50.80 cm. Photo courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” © 2012 by Lucy Paquette

In 1877, Tissot captured Kathleen’s youthful, glowingly healthy beauty in Mavourneen.

By the Thames at Richmond

In By the Thames at Richmond (c. 1878), a scene based on a photograph that surely was staged, a man (modeled by Tissot or perhaps Kathleen’s brother, Frederick Kelly) is writing “I love you” on the ground while Kathleen reacts with a smile.  The girl is likely Kathleen’s daughter, Muriel Violet, who would have been about seven years old at this time.

mrs-newton-with-a-child-by-a-pool

Study for “Mrs. Newton with a Child by a Pool” (c. 1877-78). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA.

In Mrs. Newton with a Child by a Pool (c. 1877-78), Kathleen plays with her son, Cecil, by the ornamental pool in the garden of Tissot’s house in St. John’s Wood.

A Winter's Walk

Kathleen is a lovely 24-year-old in A Winter’s Walk (Promenade dans la neige , c. 1878).

Mrs. Newton with an Umbrella

She is still fresh-faced at 25 in Mrs. Newton with an Umbrella (c. 1879, Musée Baron Martin, Gray, France).

at-the-louvre-1

At the Louvre (c. 1879-80), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Photo:  Wikiart.org)

In 1879, the couple traveled to Paris, where Tissot used the Louvre as a setting for several paintings featuring Kathleen in her caped greatcoat.

Waiting for the Ferry, c 1878 (with Kathleen)

Waiting for the Ferry (c. 1878), by James Tissot.

Tissot_and_Newton photo, ferry

Kathleen Newton with James Tissot in his garden at Grove End Road.  The children are Muriel Violet Newton and Cecil Newton.  Photo c. 1878.  (Wikimedia.org)

Between about 1878 and 1881, Tissot produced a number of paintings featuring Kathleen as a traveler.  [See The Art of Waiting, by James Tissot, Tissot and Degas visit the Louvre, 1879 and Victorians on the Move, by James Tissot.]  Tissot had painted Kathleen Newton so often in the half-dozen years they spent together that her face became stylized.

the-dreamer-summer-evening

The Dreamer (or, Summer Evening, c. 1882), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

In the final two years of Kathleen’s life, Tissot captured her looking tired and pale, with dark shadows under her eyes, or bedridden.  [See James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death.]  The Victorian Web features a study of Mrs. Newton asleep in a conservatory chair, courtesy of Peter Nahum Ltd, London, dated 1881-82, and the Musée Baron Martin in Gray, France has a painting from the same time period, Mrs. Newton Resting on a Chaise-longue, in which she is propped up on two pillows and looks very ill.

Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882, at age 28, at Tissot’s house with her sister, Polly Hervey, at her side (according to the death register).  Tissot draped the coffin in purple velvet and prayed beside it for hours.

In the six years that Kathleen Newton lived with James Tissot and modeled for him, he painted few other female models besides the girl in Croquet (c. 1878).  He produced only about two major portraits during the years Kathleen lived with him, Algernon Moses Marsden (1877), and Portrait of Mrs Catherine Smith Gill and Two of her Children (1877, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.)

Immediately after the funeral on November 14, at the Church of Our Lady in Lisson Grove, St. John’s Wood, Tissot returned to Paris.  There, he exerted himself to re-establish his reputation in Paris with a series of fifteen large-scale pictures called La Femme à Paris (The Parisian Woman).  Painted between 1883 and 1885, they portrayed the fashionable parisienne in various incarnations.  Exhibited at the Galerie Sedelmeyer, from April 19 to June 15, 1885, as “Quinze Tableaux sur la Femme à Paris,” the pictures were poorly received.  A critic for La Vie Parisienne complained that the women in the series were “always the same Englishwoman” – some say the faces all resemble Kathleen Newton.  [See Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series.]

Tissot’s relationship with Kathleen Newton was evidently the only successful romance of his life.  [See Tissot’s Romances.]

the-apparition-mezzotine-second-state

The Apparition (1885), by James Tissot.  (Wikipaintings.org)

He tried to contact her through a series of séances.  On May 20, 1885, at a séance in London, Tissot recognized the female of two spirits who appeared as Kathleen, and he asked her to kiss him.  The spirit is said to have done so, several times, with “lips of fire.”  Then she shook hands with Tissot and disappeared.  He made this image of the vision to commemorate their reunion.

After his death in 1902, James Tissot and his work, and Kathleen Newton, were largely forgotten.

By 1930, few, if any, of Tissot’s contemporaries remained to share recollections of the artist.  The only biographical material on Tissot publicly available was a twenty-five page journal article published in France in 1906.

Kathleen’s daughter, Muriel Violet, died in 1933, and Mrs. Newton’s identity was forgotten – except by her son, Cecil.  In 1933, the first exhibition of Tissot’s work was held at the Leicester Galleries in London in 1933: ” ‘In the Seventies’ – An Exhibition of Paintings by James Tissot.”  A visitor to this exhibition, a man in his late fifties, stood before one of the paintings of a beautiful woman and declared, “That was my mother,” then walked out.  The woman, who appeared in a number of Tissot’s paintings between 1876 and 1882, and whose identity remained unknown into the next decade, was referred to as “la Mystérieuse” – the Mystery Woman.

The first biography was published in London in 1936:  Vulgar Society: The Romantic Career of James Tissot, 1836-1902, by novelist and fashion historian James Laver (1899 –1975).  Laver may have taken some poetic license when he wrote that Tissot kept his mistress hidden away in his home in St. John’s Wood and that “she led almost the life of a prisoner,” “as if she had been a beauty of the harem.”

In 1946, a London journalist, Marita Ross, published a plea for information regarding “La Mystérieuse,” Tissot’s unidentified mistress.  But Lilian Hervey, then 71, replied that this was her aunt, Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854 – 1882), and she had original photographs of Mrs. Newton with James Tissot.  [See James Tissot in the 1940s: La Mystérieuse is identified.]

By the late 1960s, Willard Misfeldt was researching James Tissot and Kathleen Newton.

IMG_5038, shot to use on blog

In 2014, I visited James Tissot’s one-time home in St. John’s Wood and Kathleen Newton’s grave.  [See  A visit to James Tissot’s house & Kathleen Newton’s grave.]

I was able to make arrangements for a private tour of Tissot’s home thanks to the kindness of Irish author Patricia O’Reilly.  Patricia imagined Kathleen Newton’s life in A Type of Beauty: The Story of Kathleen Newton (1854-1882), © 2010 (cover photo, below left, courtesy of the author).  Click here to read it – and click here to read how I’ve imagined Kathleen’s life in The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot ), © 2012!

A Type of Beauty, Patricia O'Reilly                        CH377762

Related posts:

James Tissot’s house at St. John’s Wood, London

James Tissot Domesticated

Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?

James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death

Kathleen Newton by James Tissot: eight auctioned oil paintings

©  2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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.

James Tissot’s Models à la Mode

James Tissot often reused models, both male and female, in his paintings.  While he varied their poses to capture different angles of their faces, several of his models are recognizable from picture to picture within a few years’ time.  In some cases, subsequent paintings seem based on sketches for earlier works.

The brunette with the languid eyelids in The Two Sisters (1863, figure a) also appears in Portrait of Mademoiselle L.L., (1864, figure b) and Spring (1865, figure c).  Tissot painted these pictures in Paris, in the waning years of the Second Empire.

a Image -- James_Tissot_-_Two_Sisters, cropped face    b portrait-of-mlle-l-l-young-lady-in-a-red-jacket-1864, cropped face     c  Spring, the-athenaeum, cropped faceA

After Tissot moved to London, following the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune, he painted another model, a pale woman with strawberry-blonde hair, in Les Adieux (The Farewells, 1871, figure a), the woman on the left in Bad News (The Parting, 1872, figure b), and a variant of that painting, Tea (1872, figure c).

a bag-4346-les-adieux-bridgeman-art-8-7-12, cropped face      b 925px-James_Tissot_-_Bad_News, cropped face      c tea-time, wiki art, cropped face

By 1873, Tissot befriended a ship’s captain, John Freebody, and his young wife, Margaret Freebody (née Kennedy), as well as her brother, Captain Lumley Kennedy.  All three modeled for him that year in The Last Evening, The Captain and the Mate, and Boarding the Yacht (see James Tissot, ed. Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz, 1985).

In these delightful paintings, the cast of characters includes an old man with eccentric white whiskers, and a young girl who also appears in A Visit to the Yacht (c. 1873).  [See For sale: A Visit to the Yacht, c. 1873, by James Tissot.]

James_Tissot_-_The_Last_Evening, wiki

The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot.  Margaret (Kennedy) Freebody and her brother, Captain Lumley Kennedy, posed for the figures in the chairs on the right.  Margaret’s husband, Captain Freebody, is the man with the red beard.

Boarding_the_Yacht, wiki

Boarding the Yacht (1873), by James Tissot.  Margaret (Kennedy) Freebody modeled for the woman on the right, and her sister for the woman on the left.

The_Captain_and_the_Mate, wiki

The Captain and the Mate (1873), by James Tissot.  Margaret (Kennedy) Freebody sits on the left with her husband, Captain John Freebody, and her brother, Captain Lumley Kennedy is in the center.

The_Captain's_Daughter, wiki

The Captain’s Daughter (1873), by James Tissot.  The woman is portrayed by Margaret (Kennedy) Freebody.

Tissot relied on a new model for Waiting for the Ferry at the Falcon Tavern (1874, figure a) and London Visitors (c. 1874, figure b).

a Waiting for the Ferry, Speed Museum version, the-athenaeum, cropped woman face             b london-visitors, wikiart, cropped woman face

Tissot featured another lovely model, with an exquisite pointed nose, in Reading the News (1874, figure a), Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76, figure b) and Still on Top (c. 1874, figure c).

a  612px-James_Tissot_-_Reading_the_News, cropped woman      b James_Tissot_-_Chrysanthemums, cropped      c James_Tissot_-_Still_on_Top_-_Google_Art_Project, cropped

A model with a soft fringe appears in Tissot’s A Passing Storm (c. 1876, figure a) and A Convalescent (c. 1876, figure b).

a  912px-James_Tissot_-_A_Passing_Storm, cropped        b  sag-65029-a-convalescent-bridgeman-art-8-7-12, cropped girl face

The blonde woman in Autumn on the Thames, Nuneham Courtney (c. 1871-72, figure a) reappears years later, in Quarreling (c. 1874-76, figure b).  Tissot also featured her in The Bunch of Lilacs (c. 1875, figure c).

I believe the model for these pictures was Alice, British painter Louise Jopling’s lovely blonde sister, who had attracted Tissot’s interest.  Louise (1843–1933) wrote of Tissot in her 1925 autobiography, “He admired my sister Alice very much, and he asked her to sit to him, in the pretty house in St. John’s Wood.”  In this photograph of Louise and her sisters, look at the blonde on the left, in the back, and compare for yourself!

a  autumn-on-the-thames, cropped face         b quarrelling, cropped face         c The Bunch of Lilacs, the-athenaeum, cropped face

That does make me wonder if Louise Jopling [at that time, the recently widowed Mrs. Frank Romer] modeled for Tissot.  She wrote in her autobiography, “James Tissot was a charming man, very handsome, extraordinarily like the Duke [then, Prince] of Teck. He was always well groomed, and had nothing of artistic carelessness either in his dress or demeanor.”  She thought Tissot was “extraordinarily clever,” and wrote that one day, before she was married (in 1874, to J.E. Millais’ friend, Joe Jopling), Tissot had begged his friend Ferdinand Heilbuth (1826 – 1889) to go to Louise’s studio “and try to induce us both – my sister Alice and I – to come and spend the day at Greenwich, where he was painting his charming pictures of scenes by the river Thames.  I was to bring my sketching materials.  It happened that I had promised Joe to give him a sitting for my portrait, but it was much too delightful a project not to be accepted with fervor.  I wired to Joe:  ‘Called out of town on business.’  I might have, with more truth, wired:  ‘Called out of town on pleasure,’ but sketching with two such good artists was indeed good business for me, so I salved my conscience.  But I was found out:  Joe heard of our day’s outing, probably at that mart of gossip, a man’s Club.”  [Louise Jopling is a character in my book, The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot – see my short (2:42 min.) video, “Louise Jopling and James Tissot”.]

Here is the model in Tissot’s Return from the Boating Party (1873, figure a), and Louise Jopling as Millais painted her in 1879 at age 36 (figure b).  It does seem, however, that Louise would have mentioned in her autobiography that Tissot had painted her.

a the-return-from-the-boating-trip, wikiart, cropped woman face               b 1200px-Louise_Jane_Jopling_(née_Goode,_later_Rowe)_by_Sir_John_Everett_Millais,_1st_Bt, wikimedia, cropped face

Tissot used an older, white-haired woman as a model in Hush! (The Concert, 1875, figure a), A Convalescent (c. 1876, figure b), and also at the far left in Holyday (c 1876, figure c).

a  Hush, The Concert, the-athenaeum, cropped matron        b sag-65029-a-convalescent-bridgeman-art-8-7-12, cropped matron face         c Holyday, the-athenaeum, cropped matron

Tissot painted a striking model with dark hair and strong eyebrows in A Portrait (1876, figure a), and again in a blue gown in The Gallery of the H.M.S. Calcutta (Portsmouth, c. 1876, figure b).  She reappears in Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877, figure c).

a portrait-of-miss-lloyd, cropped face        b The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth) c.1876 by James Tissot 1836-1902         c Portsmouth Dockyard circa 1877 by James Tissot 1836-1902

One of Tissot’s most often-reused models is the old gentleman with the white whiskers.  He appears in Reading the News (1874, figure a), in the center of The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874, figure b), and at the left in Hush! (The Concert, 1875, figure c), as well as in The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent, c. 1878, figure d).

a 612px-James_Tissot_-_Reading_the_News, cropped man    b Ball on Shipboard, the-athenaeum, cropped old man face    c Hush, The Concert, the-athenaeum, cropped old man face  d the-warrior-s-daughter-or-the-convalescent, cropped

Another distinctive male model who reappears in Tissot’s paintings is the man with a long ginger beard in London Visitors (c. 1874, figure a) and at the far left in Holyday (c. 1876, figure b).  He also is featured in The Widower (1876, figure c).

a London Visitors, the-athenaeum, cropped man face         b Holyday, the-athenaeum, cropped man face          c James_Tissot_-_The_Widower_-_Google_Art_Project, cropped

Of course, after she moved into his home in St. John’s Wood about 1876, Tissot’s main model until her premature death was young mother and divorcée, Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854 – 1882).

Kathleen, at 22, had a four-year-old daughter and a son born on March 21, 1876.  [See Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?]  Being Roman Catholic, Kathleen could not remarry, but she lived with Tissot in his house in St. John’s Wood, until her death from tuberculosis in 1882.

Kathleen appeared in dozens of Tissot’s major works, including Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877, figure a), The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent, c. 1878, figure b), and Orphans (c. 1879, figure c).

a  Portsmouth Dockyard circa 1877 by James Tissot 1836-1902         b the-warrior-s-daughter-or-the-convalescent, cropped Kathleen Newton        c  orphan, cropped Kathleen face

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A Passing Storm (detail)

Incidentally, Tissot scholar Michael Wentworth (1938 – 2002), in his comprehensive biography James Tissot (1984), identified the model in A Passing Storm (c. 1876) as Kathleen Newton, but if you compare the features of this model to Kathleen’s, it is obvious that the two women are different.

Based on my research and this study of the faces of Tissot’s various models, I believe Kathleen Newton’s first appearance in his work was in Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877).

Portsmouth Dockyard circa 1877 by James Tissot 1836-1902

Which means that the shadowy face in the center of The Thames (1876), would have been Kathleen’s as well.

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The Thames (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas; 28.5 by 46.5 in. (72.5 by 118 cm). Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, Wakefield, UK. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot” by Lucy Paquette, © 2012.

Here she is in The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent, c. 1878).

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And here is Kathleen in Orphans (c. 1879).  Her face and slender figure would grace his work for only a few more years.

orphan

©  2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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.

A Proper British Prop: Tissot’s Tartan Blanket

Among the recurring props that James Tissot used in his oil paintings, including the tiger skin, the leopard fur, certain striking gowns, and numerous wicker chairs, were fringed woolen blankets, most often one in a red tartan.

The first use he made of a blanket as a device to add color and visual interest to his composition was in The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their children (1865):  in this case, a fringed red and white checked picnic cloth, or table cover, is draped over the stone wall behind the French aristocrat’s young son, Léon.

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The Marquis and Marquise de Miramon and their children (1865), by James Tissot.  Musee d’Orsay, Paris.  www.the-athenaeum.org

After Tissot emigrated to London in mid-1871, rebuilding his career following the Franco-Prussian War and the bloody Commune uprising in Paris, one of the first oils he painted and exhibited in this new market featured a subdued brown and white striped lap rug, appropriate to the palette, in Gentleman in a Railway Carriage (1872).

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Gentleman in a Railway Carriage (1872), by James Tissot.  The Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts.  (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Tissot, ever the shrewd man of business, understood that he now had to paint for an entirely new clientele.  While British aristocrats did not purchase the Frenchman’s paintings, plenty of newly-wealthy businessmen sought his work as they enhanced their social status by building art collections.  Tissot had to appeal to Victorian tastes, in an empire ruled by a Queen whose beloved retreat was Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire.

Soon, he began to feature Scottish tartan blankets in his paintings.  He used the same fringed tartan blanket in The Captain and the Mate (1873) and The Last Evening (1873).  In these pictures as well as A Visit to the Yacht (1873), the blanket is a prop that provides an enlivening splash of red in the composition and sets off the adjacent gown.

In The Captain’s Daughter (1873), a black and white checked blanket is draped over the wooden railing under the woman’s arm, providing visual interest between the water and her dark floral dress.

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The Captain and the Mate, (1873), by James Tissot. The Captain and the Mate (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 53.6 by 76.2 cm. Private Collection. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” © 2012 Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, © 2012

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The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.3 by 40.6 in. (72 by 103 cm). The Guildhall Art Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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A Visit to the Yacht (c. 1873), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.

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The Captain’s Daughter (1873), by James Tissot.  www.the-athenaeum.org

Tissot then begins to use this prop with some psychological sophistication.  In The Return from the Boating Trip (1873) and Waiting at the Station, Willesden Junction (1874), the tartan blanket not only provides the red necessary to the composition, but it adds a note of modern self-reliance to the women holding it.  With the blanket draped over their arms, Tissot depicts them providing for their own needs and ensuring their own comfortable mobility.

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The Return from the Boating Trip (1873), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.

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Waiting at the Station (Willesden Junction, 1874), by James Tissot.  Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand.  www.the-athenaeum.org

Later in the decade, Tissot uses a red tartan blanket as a fashion statement.  In The Thames (c. 1876), the woman on the left has covered her gown quite elegantly with it.

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The Thames (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.5 by 46.5 in. (72.5 by 118 cm). Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, Wakefield, UK. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot” by Lucy Paquette, © 2012.

In Portsmouth Dockyard (1877), the woman on the right has wrapped Tissot’s tartan blanket over her shoulders and torso; it echoes the color and pattern of the Highlander’s uniform and hose.  The woman on the left carries a black and white blanket that matches her ensemble.

Portsmouth Dockyard

Portsmouth Dockyard (How Happy I Could be with Either, c. 1877), by James Tissot.  Tate Britain, London.  www.the-athenaeum.org

By the end of the decade, Tissot uses two different tartan blankets, one wrapped around a woman and another swaddling her baby, in a painting with an overall red palette that evokes a palpable sense of danger and excitement, The Emigrants (c. 1879).

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The Emigrants (c. 1879), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 15.5 by 7 in. (39.4 by 17.8 cm). Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

After a decade of using a traveling blanket to add interest to various oil paintings, Tissot reverted to relying on it for a splash of color, as in By Water (Waiting at Dockside, c. 1881-82).

Waiting at Dockside

By Water (Waiting at Dockside, c. 1881-82), by James Tissot.

Just as he painted women’s fashions so skillfully, James Tissot showcased his extraordinary technical skills when portraying patterns such as stripes, checks and plaids.  He made efficient use of the red tartan blanket prop for color, visual interest, psychological insight, and a clever appeal to his British clients.

Related posts:

Victorians on the Move, by James Tissot

Tissot in the U.S.: The Speed Museum, Kentucky

Tissot’s Study for the family of the Marquis de Miramon (1865)

CH377762©  2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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.

Wicker: James Tissot’s Modern Prop Furniture

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may recall this story:

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Study for The Dreamer (or, Summer Evening, c. 1876), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Photo: Wikiart.org)

James Tissot painted Kathleen Newton in the study above [called The Dreamer] about 1876, selling it for £206 as Rêverie at the Dudley Gallery in London. In the 1920s, a man bought it “for a few pounds.”  In 1984, the man’s daughter brought the picture to a valuation day at Woodbridge Community Hall in Suffolk, England.  She had no idea what it was, but said, “It has been on the wall for as long as I can remember.  My dad always used to poke around the sale rooms and this just came home.  I can’t remember when.  The story always was that he bought it because it reminded him of my mother, they both had the same auburn colored hair.  Nobody knew anything about it in the family.  We had it re-framed, and while it was at the framer’s somebody offered us £600 for it and so we thought we should get it looked at professionally.”  A Sotheby’s representative at the valuation day said, “I remember turning round to say something to my secretary and when I turned back again this gentleman had put the picture down on the table in front of me.  I remember taking one look at it and thinking to myself, “My God, a Tissot.”

What I haven’t mentioned is the way the Sotheby’s representative, Mark Armstrong, recognized the painting as a work by French painter James Tissot.  Can you guess?  No, it was not the familiar face of Tissot’s mistress and muse, the young divorcée Kathleen Newton (1854–1882).  Mr. Armstrong asked the gentleman who owned the painting if he realized what it was, and when the man shook his head, he explained, “Certain things are always recognizable in these pictures, like the wicker chair for instance.  Then when I saw [Tissot’s] signature and monogram, I honestly just could not believe it.  It’s the kind of thing that makes these days come alive.”

Wicker, or woven, furniture was a new consumer good by James Tissot’s adult years.

Although wicker furniture first arrived in America on the Mayflower, production of wicker furniture in the United States began in the 1840s, after the Chinese opened a number of treaty ports to foreign trade.  Clipper ships from China brought cargo to America with raw cane rattan used as dunnage to secure it and prevent shifting.  This raw cane would then be discarded at the docks.  In 1844, an enterprising young grocer, Cyrus Wakefield (1811 – 1873), pondered uses for the large quantities of abandoned rattan at Constitution Wharf in Boston.  He realized how flexible the cane was, and after bending the rattan to produce a chair, he saw the potential of the material.

Wakefield soon began to import his own clipper ships full of rattan, which was in great demand by basket and furniture makers.  By 1851, he started making furniture from woven rattan, and it became popular.

In 1855, Wakefield and his wife left Boston and moved to South Reading [renamed Wakefield in 1868], Massachusetts, where he established the Wakefield Rattan Company.  He continued to sell the imported rattan throughout the United States and to experiment with techniques to construct wicker furniture.  Bending oak or hickory into frames wrapped with split cane, the flowing shapes were filled with ornate rattan patterns.

Previously, the inner core, or the reed, of the rattan plant had been discarded, but Cyrus Wakefield and others began experimenting with the use of reed.  In 1856, civil unrest in China resulted in a cutoff of the rattan supply, which led to more experimentation using the reed; it was discovered that reed but was porous and could be painted or stained.

The Wakefield Rattan Company expanded during the 1860s and virtually cornered the market on hand-woven furniture.  But toward the end of the decade, a loom was created that sped production of the furniture by automatically weaving and installing the chair seats.

In the early 1870’s, products manufactured by the Wakefield Rattan Company included “chairs for ladies, gentlemen and children, cradle, cribs, tete-a-tete and sofas,” as well as matting, baskets, baby carriages, window shades, brooms, clothes beaters, hoops for ladies’ skirts, and many other items.  [Click here to see an advertisement c. 1872.]

Tissot moved to London in mid-1871, in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and the Bloody Paris Commune.  In 1873, he bought the lease on a medium-sized, two-storey Queen Anne-style villa, built of red brick with white Portland stone dressing, at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, in the leafy suburb of St. John’s Wood.  The house was set in a large and private garden separating him from the horse traffic, omnibuses and pedestrians on their way to the Regent’s Park or the still-new Underground Railway station nearby.

In 1873, Tissot featured the same curvaceous bentwood rocking chair with a woven-cane seat and back in two of his paintings, A Visit to the Yacht and The Last Evening.

James-Jacques-Joseph_Tissot_s_A_Visit_to_the_Yacht,_Sotheby's.

A Visit to the Yacht (c. 1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 by 21 in. (87.6 by 56 cm).  (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.3 by 40.6 in. (72 by 103 cm). The Guildhall Art Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 50 by 60 in. (106.6 by 152.4 cm). Musee Nationale du Chateau de Compiegne, France. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

About 1874, in the face of rumors that Tissot was a Communard, he painted a dual portrait of the exiled French empress and her son, which seemingly refutes the charge.  In The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst, Tissot depicts the exiled royals risen from lightweight wicker readings chairs.  In the autumnal scene, the portable chairs strike an ephemeral note.

In 1875, Tissot built an extension with a studio and huge conservatory that doubled the size of his house.

in-the-conservatory

In the Conservatory (The Rivals, c. 1875), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 15 1/8 by 20 1/8 in. (38.4 by 51.1 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

In In the Conservatory (The Rivals, c. 1875), Tissot features the back of a substantial, circular roll-back wicker armchair, with its elegant herringbone pattern shown in full detail.

 

The Wakefield Rattan Company participated in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, which was attended by nearly a quarter of the population of the United States.  Since middle-class American families were just beginning to move to suburban and country homes, there was a demand for informal furniture for porches, summer homes and even parlors. [Click here to read more on the Wakefield Rattan Company.]

From the 1870s through the late 1890s, the Wakefield Rattan Company faced fierce competition from another furniture maker, Heywood Brothers Company of Gardner, Massachusetts.  Both companies offered increasingly original and elaborate designs with outstanding craftsmanship, and wicker furniture, which was sturdy, lightweight, and elegant, became increasingly popular.

Wicker furniture also became fashionable in Victorian England, in part because it was considered sanitary.  Unlike upholstered furniture, wicker was easy to clean and did not collect dust.

Tissot designed his garden with a blend of English-style flower beds as well as plantings familiar to him from French parks.  He added an ornamental pond and a cast iron colonnade, copied from the Parc Monceau in Paris, which ran in a curve from the south side of the pool towards the house.  A similar curved colonnade ran from the east end of the pool.

The bay window of Tissot’s new studio overlooked this idyllic landscape, which he enjoyed and painted repeatedly.

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The Convalescent (c. 1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas; 30.2 by 39.06 in. (76.7 by 99.2 cm). Museums Sheffield. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot” by Lucy Paquette © 2012.

In Tissot’s The Convalescent (c. 1876), two women model in a grouping of three comfortable wicker armchairs by his garden pool; the third chair is reserved slyly with a man’s hat and cane.

The convalescing woman’s chair, with its squared back, round base, flat armrests and vertical supports, is so similar to the chairs in The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial that they either were purchased from the same source, or possibly owned by Tissot and transported to Chislehurst for the portrait setting.

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Holyday (c. 1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas. Tate Britain, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In Holyday (c. 1876), the elderly chaperone minds her own business in a wicker chair to the left while a youthful group picnics at the side of Tissot’s garden pool.

James_Tissot_-_The_Letter

The Letter (c. 1878), by James Tissot. 27 by 40 in. (68.58 by 101.60 cm). National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

A lightweight wicker dining set is shown in the back of this garden in The Letter (c. 1878), said to be set in the Dutch Gardens of Holland House in London.

Here’s the interesting thing – or one of them, anyway:  Tissot’s career spanned forty-three years, from 1859, when the 23-year-old launched his career in Paris, competing with established artists by exhibiting five entries in the Salon, until his death in 1902, while he still was working on an illustrated Old Testament (published in 1904).  Yet the wicker chair(s) so associated with his work appeared only in his paintings during nine of the years within his London period, 1871 to 1882, which overlaps the six years, 1876 to 1882, when Kathleen Newton lived with him in his elegant St. John’s Wood villa in London.

In those nine years, Tissot painted fewer than two dozen pictures that include a wicker armchair, chaise, or stool.

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Kathleen Newton in an Armchair (1878), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 12 by 17 in. (30.5 by 43.2 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In Kathleen Newton in an Armchair (1878), Tissot features a wicker reading chair in the corner of his studio, overlooking his garden.  With its flat armrests, this chair is similar in design to the chairs in The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874) and The Convalescent (c. 1876), but this chair has a slightly arched back, unlike the squared back of the other chairs.

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Rivals (1878 – 1879), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 36.22 by 26.77 in. (92 by 68 cm). Private collection.

In Rivals (1878-1879), Tissot’s wicker reading chair has been moved to the conservatory so Mrs. Newton may lounge while modeling.  The older gentleman sits in a wicker chair as well.

The wicker pieces offered an interesting textural contrast within Tissot’s compositions.

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Hide and Seek (1877), by James Tissot. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot” by Lucy Paquette © 2012

In Hide and Seek (1877), Kathleen Newton reads the paper while lounging in the wicker reading chair in the corner of his elegant studio, where French doors open into the garden.

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La sœur aînée (The Elder Sister), c. 1881, by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 17.5 by 8 in. (44.45 by 20.32 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: http://www.the-athenaeum.org/)

The lacy, lightweight wicker chair in La sœur aînée (The Elder Sister, c. 1881), easily could be moved in and out of the house.

James Tissot, one of the first artists to use photography as the basis for his oil paintings, and who kept a photographic record of all his works, was a thoroughly modern man.  The wicker furniture that he owned and portrayed in his paintings is, like his depiction of current female and male fashions, one more sign of his contemporary style.

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Kathleen Newton at the Piano (c. 1881), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

In this oil study, Kathleen Newton at the Piano (c. 1881), she is seated on a wicker stool covered in a heavy cloth.

When Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882, at age 28, Tissot returned to Paris after the funeral the following week.  Within a year, he sold his London villa to the Dutch-born painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912).

Never again did James Tissot’s paintings feature the graceful wicker furniture of his leisured life in London.

Related posts:

Tissot in the Conservatory

For sale:  In the Conservatory (Rivals), c. 1875, by James Tissot

James Tissot’s house at St. John’s Wood, London

James Tissot Domesticated

James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death

©  2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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.

 

Tissot’s Tiger Skin: A Prominent Prop

Since today is April Fool’s Day – and my birthday – let’s have a lighthearted look at a prop that James Tissot often used, a tiger skin.  

In 1877, Tissot draped a tiger skin over a wide upholstered armchair to underscore the masculinity and dynamism of his sometime art dealer, Algernon Moses Marsden (1847 – 1920).  [Marsden actually deserved to be portrayed with a rat skin, as he was a gambler, bankrupt and rogue who foisted his debts on his father and abandoned his wife and ten children.  See Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?]

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Algernon Moses Marsden (1877), by James Tissot.  Private collection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other Victorian artists, notably Tissot’s friend Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912) as well as Alma-Tadema’s protégé John William Godward (1861 – 1922), featured tiger skins as an exotic element in sensual paintings of lovely women.

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Cherries (1873), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Private Collection. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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The Priestess of Bacchus (1885-89), by John Maler Collier (1850-1934). (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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The Sweet Siesta of a Summer Day (1891), by John William Godward. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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Dolce Far Niente (1897), by John William Godward. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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Eighty and Eighteen (1898), by John William Godward. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

James Tissot, so technically skilled and refined, almost never presented open sensuality in his work, especially during the years he painted in England (1871–1882).  He used the tiger skin in his paintings for textural complexity and to illustrate the lushness of the Victorian leisured life.  After Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854–1882), moved into his home, he added a leopard skin rug to his prop collection.

In Hide and Seek (c. 1877), Tissot featured both the leopard skin and the tiger skin, among many textures including the Oriental porcelain, the two mirrors, the leather-armed chaise, the polished wooden occasional table, and the round enameled table in the foreground.

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Hide and Seek (c. 1877), by James Tissot. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot” by Lucy Paquette © 2012

In Reading a Story (c. 1878-79), the leopard skin is tossed over a bench in Tissot’s garden:

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Reading a Story (c. 1878-79), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Image: Wikiart.org)

In 1880, it lines Mrs. Newton’s chair in A Type of Beauty.

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A Type of Beauty (Portrait of Kathleen Newton, 1880), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Image: Wikipedia.org).

The leopard skin is draped neatly over the garden bench in pictures from 1881 to 1882:

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Quiet (c. 1881), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Image: Wikiart.org)

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Le banc de jardin/The Garden Bench (1882), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 99.1 by 142.2 cm. Private collection. (Photo: Wikiart)

Tissot also shows the leopard skin used as the family picnic rug, c. 1881.

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In Full Sunlight (En plein soleil, c. 1881), by James Tissot.  Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Open Access.

How prim Tissot, the Frenchman, seems compared to the Dutch-born Alma-Tadema!

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The Tepidarium (1881), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

By 1882, enjoying his domestic life with Kathleen Newton and her two children, Tissot’s tiger skin is emblematic of the exuberance of their days – which would end with Kathleen’s death of tuberculosis in November.

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Le Petit Nemrod (A Little Nimrod), c. 1882, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 ½ by 55 3/5 in. (110.5 by 141.3 cm). Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’archéologie, Besançon, France. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

But while James Tissot did not use his tiger skin in erotic images, he did use it to create one with an improving moral message.

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Triumph of Will: The Challenge (1877), by James Tissot. (Image: Wikiart.org)

Even in La femme préhistorique (The Prehistoric Woman), Tissot shuns the opportunity to paint an erotic semi-nude primitive; he veers off with his own idiosyncratic approach.

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La femme prehistorique, by James Tissot. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

But, then, at least Tissot never inflicted this type of image upon posterity:

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Autumn Flowers, by Jehan Georges Vibert (1840 – 1902). (Image: Wikiart.org)

Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me, and please enjoy other posts on my blog as well as my novel about James Tissot, The Hammock!

Previous April Fool’s Day posts:

The Missing Tissot Nudes

Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?

Tissot and his Friends Clown Around

Happy Hour with James Tissot

©  2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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.