Monthly Archives: November 2012

On top of the world: Tissot, Millais & Alma-Tadema in 1867

Sleeping, by J.E. Millais (

In London, the renowned John Everett Millais exhibited four paintings at the 1867 Royal Academy: Sleeping, Waking, and The Minuet (modeled respectively by his daughters, Carrie, Mary and Effie), as well as Jephthah and Master Cayley (a portrait of young Hugh Cayley of Wydale).

Master Cayley, by J.E. Millais (

Waking and Sleeping each fetched 1,000 guineas, but while these commissioned paintings of adorable children were lucrative, they were risky in their own way: his daughter Mary, left alone for a few minutes while modeling for Waking, grabbed a paint brush and slathered brown strokes across the bottom of her father’s canvas, telling him that she was helping him paint the floor. (Millais repaired the damage without chastising her.)  Tom Taylor, the British art critic and a good friend of Millais’, called Sleeping*  “the most beautiful picture the artist has ever painted,” and one of the chief works of art of British painting.

Millais, now 38, had seven children, and fortunately, Effie’s parents were willing to watch them while they entertained friends and international celebrities. He was not much for foreign travel, but he made the trip to Paris for the World’s Fair, where his The Eve of St. Agnes (1863), illustrating the popular Keats poem, was on exhibit. When this painting first was exhibited in London in 1863, one prominent gentleman sniffed, “I cannot bear that woman with the gridiron,” and even Millais’ friend Tom Taylor, cried, “Where on earth did you get that scraggy model, Millais?” (It was Effie, who had posed in an unheated Jacobean mansion in Kent for three December nights in a row.)  But at the 1867 Paris Exposition and after, The Eve of St. Agnes was revered.  [This painting is now in The Royal Collection, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.]

Madeleine undressing, painting by John Everett...

The Eve of St. Agnes (1863), by John Everett Millais (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still living in Brussels, Tissot’s Dutch friend Lourens Tadema (later Lawrence Alma-Tadema) exhibited two oils at Ernest Gambart’s 14th Annual Exhibition of French and Flemish Schools which opened in London in April. One of the paintings, Tibullus at Delia’s (No. 77) fared well; the other, The honeymoon (reign of Augustus)(No. 83) did not. Gambart entered thirteen of Tadema’s pictures in the Paris International Exposition – from those that had been hanging, unsold, in Gambart’s London mansion. Tadema’s Pastimes in Ancient Egypt 3,000 years ago (No. 56, 1863), which had been awarded the gold medal in the 1864 Salon, won a second class medal at the Exposition.  Tadema had completed the 34 paintings that Gambart had commissioned from him in 1864; Gambart now commissioned another 48 at higher prices.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Tibullus at Delia's

Tibullus at Delia’s, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the Paris Exposition, James Tissot made the most of the opportunity for his work to be seen internationally and wrote to the Marquis de Miramon with the request – which was granted – of the loan of his wife’s elegant portrait for the occasion.  He also showed a slightly larger version of The Confidence on exhibit at the Salon.

Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1867), by James Tissot.  27 x 15 in. (68.58 x 38.10 cm.)  Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Photo by Lucy Paquette

Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1867), by James Tissot. 27 x 15 in. (68.58 x 38.10 cm.) Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Lucy Paquette

Tissot was busy with commissions for portraits of aristocrats, including the president of Paris’ exclusive Jockey Club, Eugène Coppens de Fontenay.  Tissot continued to paint elegant, uncontroversial images of contemporary life: The Wardrobe, The Races at Longchamp, The Terrace of the Jeu de Paume, and Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens.

Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens (1867), by James Tissot. (Photo:

In addition to Millais, another role model of artistic success strongly influenced Tissot’s work after this year. At the International Exposition, the Belgian artist Alfred Stevens (1823 – 1906) exhibited 18 paintings and won a gold medal. Stevens, who attended Princess Mathilde’s receptions and often received loans of her gowns for his pictures, was long established as an award-winning painter in the Paris art world and hosted frequent parties of his own. He was friends with Tissot as well as Whistler, Degas, Manet, and others who now met at the Café Guerbois.  His polished paintings of beautiful women wearing modern fashions in elegant interiors, like The Lady in Pink (1867), would provide a new source of inspiration for Tissot.

English: The Lady in Pink Français : La Dame e...

La Dame en rose/The Lady in Pink, by Alfred Stevens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sleeping eventually was owned by the model, Millais’ third daughter, Carrie – later Lady Stuart of Wortley (1862-1936), who became an accomplished pianist and second wife of the conservative MP for Sheffield.  The painting was sold by her descendents in 1969. Thirty years later, on June 10, 1999, an American collector bought it for a record £2,091,500 ($3,477,746) at Christie’s, but it was sold to meet debts and in 2003 brought only £1.2 million from a British art agent at Christie’s auction of “Important British and Irish Art.”

© 2012 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762The 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

Click here to download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones and tablets from  


The Bad Boys of the 1867 Paris International Exposition: Whistler, Manet & Courbet

A bigger event than the Salon in 1867 was the Paris International Exposition. Held from April 1 to November 3, this World’s Fair proclaiming the cultural supremacy of France included exhibitors from 41 nations. Japan, which had been open to foreign trade for only about a dozen years, sent a delegation, the first to any International Exposition. The extravaganza boasted shops, restaurants and amusement parks and drew between 11 and 15 million visitors.

At the Paris Exposition, several of Whistler’s etchings and four of his paintings were exhibited:  The White Girl and Old Battersea Bridge, both of which he had exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1865, Wapping or On the Thames, which he had shown at the Royal Academy in 1864, and Twilight on the Ocean, later renamed Crépuscule in Flesh Colour and Green, which he just had shown in January at Ernest Gambart’s French Gallery in London.  His work was relegated to the dark corners reserved for Americans.  Whistler, who always walked his mother to church on Sunday mornings, was involved in more street brawls in 1867 – in Paris, he punched a workman who accidentally dropped plaster on his head in a narrow street, and soon after that, he shoved his brother-in-law through a plate-glass window. Whistler ended up in court both times, and the Burlington Fine Arts Club expelled him. He had earned a reputation, in London, as an uncouth individual.

Manet’s work was rejected by the 1867 Salon jury. His entries – all his paintings which had been rejected from previous Salons — also were rejected for the Paris Exposition, which, like the Salon, was sponsored by the French government.  Since Manet earned so little from his art, he lived on a generous 20,000 francs a year doled out by his mother.

Gustave Courbet - The Oak at Flagey (The Oak o...

The Oak at Flagey (The Oak of Vercingetorix), by Gustave Courbet.  Murauchi Art Museum.  Photo credit: Wikipedia

Henri Fantin-Latour: Portrait d'Edouard Manet,...

Portrait of  Édouard Manet, 1867, by Henri Fantin-Latour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Courbet had nine paintings accepted for the 1867 Salon – ones he called “proper” pictures, “the kind they like” – including The Oak at Flagey – and four in the Paris Exposition, including The Black Stream, borrowed from Napolean III’s collection at the palace of Saint-Cloud.

Though Manet still craved official recognition, he and Courbet teamed up to present their work in an independent exhibition based on Courbet’s groundbreaking private exhibition next to the 1855 Paris Exposition. (After only 11 of his 14 entries were accepted that year, Courbet had withdrawn them and then raised the funds to build his own exhibition hall; his “Pavilion of Realism” failed due to lack of public interest.)  This year, Manet borrowed 18,000 francs from his inheritance and hoped to earn public acceptance of his work by building a large, temporary wooden pavilion across the street from one of the entrances to the International Exposition, at the Place d’Alma. The land was owned by an aristocratic art-lover who owned several of Courbet’s landscapes. Courbet, intending his pavilion to be permanent so he could boycott future Salons, invested 50,000 francs in the scheme. He mailed 3,000 invitations, sent his catalog to artists all over Paris, and showed 140 of his pictures, half of them landscapes (which he boasted he could paint in two hours).  He also exhibited his Woman with a Parrot, which he had retained rather than sold after it had been such a hit at the 1866 Salon.  But the public was apathetic, and his exhibition closed after only six months.  Courbet had been publicly criticized for charging an admission fee, but he had bigger problems with the employee who embezzled three to four thousand francs from those fees, as well as the theft of several paintings.

Manet showed fifty-six paintings, including Young Lady in 1866 (Woman with a Parrot) and Luncheon on the Grass, which had been reviled at the Salon des Refusés three years ago.  Manet explained his work in the catalog: “Manet has no pretensions either to overthrow an established mode of painting or to create a new one. Manet never wished to protest. He has only sought to be himself and not another.”

Manet - Blick auf die Weltausstellung von 1867

The Universal Exhibition of 1867, by Édouard Manet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Few visitors came to this independent exhibition, and Manet’s work – and the man himself — continued to receive jeers from the critics and the public. Between June and August, he painted The Universal Exhibition of 1867, a large and cynical panoramic view from the edge of the fairgrounds by an artist who remained marginalized. He continued to paint scenes from contemporary life, such as The Races at Longchamp, showing horses speeding toward the viewer in a cloud of dust.

The Races at Longchamp, 1864.

The Races at Longchamp (1866) by Édouard Manet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tissot had enjoyed a career free from this kind of public misunderstanding, personal attacks and struggle, so far.

© 2012 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762The 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


Click here to download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones and tablets from  

Free on November 15, 2012!

Thank you for visiting my blog, now chronicling the early years of French painter James Tissot (1836-1902) and his friends Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Édouard Manet (1832-1883), James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and Lourens Tadema (later Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912).

My new release, The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, illustrated with 17 full-color, high-resolution fine art images courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library, is free on November 15, 2012 at  Click here to download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones and tablets from  For links in the U.K., Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan, click my blog’s tab “Order Now.”  You will find a review at the bottom of this post.

Please consider reading The Hammock over the holidays — and leave your review at my page on,, or at

So far, my blog has had visitors from 36 nations including the U.S., Canada, U.K., Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, France, Romania, Ukraine, Italy, Greece, Poland, Spain, India, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Thailand, Australia, Chile, Malaysia, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Iceland, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Hungary, Israel, Malta, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, New Zealand, Argentina, Hong Kong and Norway!

Please leave a comment to let me know what you find most enjoyable, and tell me a bit about yourself.  Are you an art lover, researcher, or student?  Where do you live?  Are you reading my blog in English, or translating it?  Who are your favorite artists, and which paintings do you particularly like?

I invite you to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot – and to share your review!

Lucy Paquette

P.S.  As of the end of the day on November 15, 2012, readers downloaded 285 free copies of my novel!  Thank you!  Enjoy it.

© 2012 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

A Bunch of Lilacs (c. 1875), James TIssot. 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

Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars When Artistic Skill and Societal Morals Collide November 1, 2012

By Linda L. McBride

As learning a new language opens doors to a new culture, this novel provides the reader with a very personal understanding of the lives, the motivations, the drive, the passion, and the constraints of some of the most talented artists of their time. This book is not about art history; rather, it brings these artists vibrantly to life in a compelling and entertaining story. Ms. Paquette’s thorough research, attention to detail, and skillful writing colorfully illustrate the story of French painter James Tissot, a man so talented his paintings fairly leap off the canvas but whose inner demons and drive to succeed fatally collide with societal norms. The book is graced by the addition of beautiful reproductions of paintings that have been woven into the story so that the reader can feel a close connection to each piece of fine art almost as if he or she was in on the secret behind each one. One need not be a student of art to find this book enjoyable. It is, quite simply, a great story backed by well-researched facts. Kudos to Ms. Paquette on a fine inaugural book.

Degas’ portrait: Tissot, the man-about-town, 1867

While Tissot’s luxurious villa and studio on the avenue de l’Impératrice were under construction, his friend Degas painted his portrait.  Tissot was described as having “a shock of jet-black hair, a drooping Mongolian mustache, an excellent tailor, and a small private fortune.”  Degas depicts his friend as a man of the world, fashionable and carefree.

Portrait of James Tissot

Portrait of James Tissot, by Edgar Degas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Degas, meanwhile, was making so little progress in his artistic career that his father, who financially supported him, had to defend him to relatives:  “Edgar is still working enormously hard, though he does not appear to be.  What is fermenting in that head is frightening.  I myself think – I am even convinced – that he has not only talent, but genius.”  To his son, he wrote, “You can be quite certain that you’ll succeed in doing great things.  You have a wonderful destiny ahead of you, don’t lose heart.”

Degas’ The Bellelli Family, painted on a seven by eight foot canvas, was exhibited at the 1867 Salon.  It captured the tension felt by his fragile and pregnant aunt in her unhappy marriage to an important politician from Naples, Italy.  Degas was pursuing the conventional path to official artistic acceptance, but the subject matter of his paintings was idiosyncratic, arresting.  The critics began to take notice of his work.

English: Bellelli family, paint of Edgar Degas.

The Bellelli Family, by Edgar Degas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After winning the independence to exhibit what he pleased, Tissot exhibited two paintings in the 1867 Salon.  One was safely decorative:  Young Woman Singing at the Organ is a painting of a lady and a nun singing in an organ loft.  However, his second entry, The Confidence, surprised a few critics.  One wrote of it as “being typical of modernism and modern sentiment, and as such directly opposed to the spirit of classicism in its rejection of simplicity, feeling and form.”

The Confidence (c. 1867), by James Tissot. (Proto: Wikipaintings).

In London, at Ernest Gambart’s French Gallery, Whistler showed Crépuscule in Flesh Color and Green, a view of Valparaiso, Chile from his inexplicable escapade the previous year.  One critic praised Whistler for giving “an aspect of sleepy motion to the vessel” and noted how the artist “conveyed to the spectator the rolling, seemingly breathing, surface of the sea with a power that is magical.”  At the Royal Academy, Whistler showed Symphony in White, No. 3 (Two Little White Girls), Battersea (a Thames picture) and Sea and Rain (from his summer at Trouville in 1865).  While Tissot, Degas and other friends admired Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 3 — which was purchased by a wealthy art collector — an eminent art critic wrote that he regretted Whistler had not met his early potential.  Another critic mocked Whistler’s new use of musical terminology, pointing out that there were, in fact, colors besides white in the “symphony” picture.  Whistler commented, “Does he then believe that a symphony in F contains no other note, but shall be a continued repetition of FFF?  Fool!”

Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl

Symphony in White, No. 3 (Two Little White Girls), James McNeill Whistler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Paris Salon accepted two of Whistler’s paintings, At the Piano – which it had rejected eight years earlier – and The Thames in Ice.  Whistler earned little from his painting but had family money to live on.  He never felt satisfied with his pictures, never considered them finished; a friend of his observed, “He was painfully aware of his defects – in drawing, for instance.”  Hurt, angry and and self-doubting, Whistler wrote to a friend:  “Courbet and his influence were disgusting.  It’s not poor Courbet that I find repugnant, nor his works.  It’s that this damned Realism appealed immediately to my painter’s vanity.  I feel that one can go much further, that there are much more beautiful things to be done.  I’m sure I’m going to make up for badly used time.  But how painful it all is!”

For all the anxiety and anguish the official route to success often produced, both the Royal Academy Exhibition and the Salon would be overshadowed, in 1867, by the Paris International Exposition – the most extravagant World’s Fair yet.

© 2012 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762The 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

“The three wonders of the world”: Tissot’s japonisme,1864-67

CH377762NOTE:  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.


With the signing of the first commercial treaty between Japan and America in 1854, more than 200 years of Japanese seclusion came to an end.  In Paris, a host of import shops cropped up.  J.G. Houssaye’s À la porte chinoise (At the Chinese Gate) was established on rue Vivienne by 1855, and by 1856, M. Decelle had opened L’Empire Céleste (The Celestial Empire) there.  Houssaye later opened Au Céleste Empire on rue Saint-Marc.

Woodburytype of Rutherford Alcock

Woodburytype of Rutherford Alcock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the 1862 London International Exhibition, the retired first British Minister to Japan, Sir Rutherford Alcock (1809-1897) showed his collection at his Japanese Pavilion.  It was a sensation.  The exotic Japanese treasures – handcrafted pottery, lacquer, bamboo and ivory – seemed even more exquisite through the eyes of a public weary of the Industrial Revolution’s tawdry mass-produced wares.

That same year, Madame Desoye, who with her husband had lived for many years in Japan, opened an import shop, La Jonque Chinoise (The Chinese Junk) at 220 rue de Rivoli, near the Louvre.  Among her customers were Tissot, Manet, Degas, Whistler, and Sarah Bernhardt.  So novel was the art of East Asia that the distinction between Japanese and Chinese traditions was blurred into the catch-all term, Oriental.  But as these curiosities became increasingly available, it seemed that everyone in Paris coveted something “Japanese” – even, as one art critic noted, “imbeciles and bourgeois women.”

Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Japan, Woman with fan

Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1797-1862), Japan, Woman with fan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the spring of 1863, when plans for a Salon des Refusés so delighted Whistler, he was in Amsterdam, buying blue and white porcelain to decorate his London home.  In October 1863, a friend of Whistler’s wrote to another friend, “Jimmy has bought some very fine china; has about sixty pounds worth, and his anxiety about it during dinner was great fun.”   A guest asked Whistler, “Suppose one of these plates was smashed?”  He replied, “Why, then, you know, we might as well all take hands and go throw ourselves into the Thames!”  Whistler bought Oriental furniture, screens, kimonos, lacquered objects, vases, fans, wall hangings and prints.  He slept in a huge Chinese bed.  Whistler’s mother proudly wrote, in a letter a year later, of her son’s “very rare collection” of Japanese and Chinese treasures.  In July, 1864, a visitor to Whistler’s studio wrote to a friend, “Here, I am nearly in Paradise.  We’re fashioning an impossible life, all three of us in Whistler’s studio. You would believe you were at Nagasaki or in the Summer Palace, China, Japan, it is splendid.”

Whistler competed for these curiosities with his Chelsea neighbor, the famed Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882).  Both artists bought primarily from the prominent London art dealer Murray Marks (1840-1918), a Dutch expert on Oriental china who was based in Bond Street.

But by November, 1864, when Rossetti tried to shop for Japanese items in Paris, he “found all the costumes were being snapped up by a French artist, Tissot, who it seems is doing three Japanese pictures, which the mistress of the shop described to me as the three wonders of the world, evidently in her opinion quite throwing Whistler into the shade.”

Jeune femme tenant des objets japonais (Young Lady Holding Japanese Objects), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 14 by 18 in. (35.56 by 45.72 cm). Private Collection. (Photo:

Tissot was using his ever-increasing wealth to amass what would become a renowned collection of Oriental art.  His new-found fascination initially influenced only a few of his paintings:  The Japanese Bather (c. 1864, about seven by four feet, or 208 by 124 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, France) and the awkward Young Lady Holding Japanese Objects (1865).

La Japonaise au bain (The Japanese Bather, c. 1865), by James Tissot. Musée de Dijon, France. (Photo:

While the model for The Japanese Bather is clearly a Western woman – coy in an open silk kimono Tissot had purchased at Madame Desoye’s – the face and hair of the woman in Young Lady Holding Japanese Objects is inspired by a typical porcelain-headed doll.  Unlike Whistler, Tissot did not show his “Japanese” paintings at the Salon, but he recorded them in the photograph album of the paintings he sold.  His album also includes Still-life of Japanese objects, with a ceramic dragon and a Japanese doll lying on a gleaming wooden tabletop that reflects her painted porcelain face.  And in his gorgeous 1866 commission, Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née Thérèse Feuillant, he outdid himself by including elegant touches of japonisme.  (For a high-resolution, interactive version of this portrait at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, click here .)

In London, Whistler was incorporating his Japanese treasures into paintings such as The Golden Screen (1864), The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks (completed 1864; exhibited at the Royal Academy that same year), The Princess from the Land of Porcelain (completed 1863-64; exhibited at the 1865 Salon), and The Little White Girl (completed 1864; exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1865).

Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl

Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl, James McNeill Whistler (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Princess from the Land of Porcelain, by James Whistler (Photo:

The Golden Screen, by James Whistler (

The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks, by James Whistler (

After returning to London from his misadventure in Valparaiso, Chile in late 1866, Whistler moved into No. 2, Lindsey Row.  It was a three-story house with an attic that looked out on the River Thames.  He hosted a house-warming party on February 5, 1867.  Dante Rossetti and his brother – also one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood – attended.   William Michael Rossetti (1829 – 1919) wrote in his diary:  “There are some fine old fixtures, such as doors, fireplaces, and Whistler had got up the rooms with many delightful Japanesisms.  Saw for the first time his pagoda cabinet.”

In Paris, the word japonisme was coined to describe the influence of Oriental art and and design that captured everyone’s imagination.  Customers fought over the items for sale at Madame Desoye’s curio shop on the fashionable rue de Rivoli.  The painter Alfred Stevens spoke of a dinner party at which Whistler carried a fan that Madame Desoye was supposed to have kept back for another customer, a writer.  When this gentleman saw “his” fan and vociferously objected, Whistler raged, “Me, I’m going to give you a good punch in the eye.”

But it was James Tissot who would lay claim (without a fistfight) to a source of japonisme much more significant than a mere fan, the following year.

Related blog posts:

“Chi-so”: Tissot teaches a brother of Japan’s last Shogun, 1868

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

© 2012 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

In a class by himself: Tissot beyond the competition, 1866

By 1866, Tissot’s oil portraits included dapper, upper-class gentlemen, attractive and well dressed ladies of leisure, and a wealthy-looking boy of 12 or so wearing knee breeches and red and white diced Scottish hose.  Most stunning was his Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née Thérèse Feuillant, in her husband’s castle, the château de Paulhac in Auvergne.  Tissot depicts the 30-year-old Marquise wearing a pink velvet housecoat, leaning on the mantel in her sitting room with a stylish Japanese screen behind her.

Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née, Thérèse Feuillant (1866), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, unframed: 50 1/2 by 30 3/8 in. (128.3 by 77.2 cm). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

At the Paris Salon in 1866, Tissot showed Young Woman in a Church (Jeune Femme dans une Église) and The Confessional (Leaving the Confessional, 1865), a keepsake picture of a fashionable woman.

display_image, Southampton Tissot

Leaving the Confessional (1865), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 45 ½ by 27 ¼ in. (115.4 by 69.2 cm). Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton, U.K. (Photo:

Though neither painting earned particular acclaim, Tissot was elected hors concours – beyond the competition, or, in a class by himself:  from now on, he could exhibit any painting he wished at the annual Salon, without submitting his work to the jury’s scrutiny.  Only artists who had won three major awards at previous Salons were eligible to receive this honor.  How did a 30-year old artist, who had won no medals following his honorable mention in 1861, rise to this height in only his seventh year of exhibiting?  One 20th century scholar has suggested the rationale that Tissot had earned a substantial following by this time.  But in terms of official endorsement from the Salon, could it be that the suave, ambitious and well-connected young artist was being rewarded for being reliably traditional in a time of open rebellion among artists of his age?

The price for his pictures skyrocketed.

Showing a real 'vernissage' (note the workers ...

Showing a real ‘vernissage’ (note the workers in the background), Salon de Paris, 1866. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tissot, from 1857, had been using photography to record all the paintings he produced.  He also recorded in his carnet (notebook), the sale dates and prices.  In 1863, he had been more than 100,000 francs in debt, but Tissot now was earning over 70,000 francs a year.  At 30, he decided to purchase property – on the most prestigious new thoroughfare in Paris, the avenue de l’Impératrice (Empress Avenue, now avenue Foch).

The avenue de l’Impératrice, built in 1856, ran from the Place de l’Étoile to the new imperial playground of the Bois de Boulogne, west of the city.  The tree-lined avenue, less than a mile long and 394 feet wide (1300 by 120 meters), was divided into spacious, separate lanes for carriages, horseback riders and pedestrians, and soon it was lined on both sides with splendid villas.

Tissot purchased a lot at No. 64 on a little street running off the avenue itself, near the Bois.  Certainly his income had greatly increased, and his mother had left him an inheritance when she died in 1861, though there is no record of its worth.  I discovered another likely factor in his acquisition while reading a book about Parisian artists written in the 1880s:

In France, a country whose monuments are the records of its history, he whom art makes great occupies an important relation to the state as well as society. France fosters art, provides for its necessities, endows it richly, because it recognizes in its growth not only a magnificent industry, but a means of education and refinement that nothing else can produce. She throws around it the same laws which protect her commercial interests, making art a legitimate profession, and socially opens to her artists the same doors that she does to her scholars, soldiers, literati, and statesmen […] Baron Haussmann planned an artist quarter in the vicinity of Passy and the Bois de Boulogne.   The city offered land to sculptors and painters on very favorable terms, and proffered assistance in building.

Tissot, the son of a husband and wife team of self-made merchants who bought themselves an imposing eighteenth-century château in the county in the thirteenth year of their marriage, was even more astute with his money.

He would be living in grand style in his luxurious new villa by late 1867 or early 1868.

Still Life with Shells (1866), by James Tissot. (Photo:

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2012.  All rights reserved.

CH377762The 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