Monthly Archives: December 2012

Others in Tissot’s circle: Morisot, Courbet, Alma-Tadema, Whistler & Millais in 1868

Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Tissot, handsome and successful at 31, still was unmarried.

In July 1868, the 36-year-old, married Manet was introduced to the elegant and intense 27-year-old Berthe Morisot (1841-95) and her older sister, Edma, who would soon be married.  By autumn, Berthe – only sometimes accompanied by her mother — was making regular visits to his studio to model for The Balcony.  Of her image in this painting, she later remarked, “I am more strange than ugly.”

Berthe, whose family was wealthy and distinguished, had been painting for a decade.  She made her Salon début in 1864 with two landscapes and had exhibited each year, though her work was hung high on the wall and hard to see.  The Comte de Nieuwerkerke was the president of the 1868 Salon jury, and he did not care for landscapes any more than he did for the new, modern subject matter infiltrating the Salon walls as never before.  Now, four years later, Berthe showed The Pont-Aven River at Roz-Bras, and she was considered a serious enough painter to be noticed in print by Émile Zola.    

Courbet exhibited only two pictures at the Salon:  Roebuck on the Alert (1867, Musée d’Orsay) and The Beggar’s Alms (Glasgow City Council Museums).  But he produced a great many paintings this year, including several nudes:  The Woman in the Waves, two versions of a Sleeping Woman, The Three Bathers, The Source, and Nude Reclining by the Sea.  Courbet’s 1868 landscapes include:  The Silent River, Siesta at Haymaking Time, The Bridge at Nahin, The Deer Shelter, and The Stream of The Puits Noir at Ornans.

Gustave Courbet - The Source - WGA05506

The Source, by Gustave Courbet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition, Courbet painted a few portraits and illustrated two anti-clerical pamphlets published in Brussels.  That summer, he sent eleven pictures, including The Return from the Conference (1863), to an exhibition in Ghent, and he exhibited in Besançon and Le Havre, where he had eight pictures.  He also was busy chasing down several of his paintings which had been stolen from various places including London.

Tissot’s Dutch friend Lourens Tadema (later Lawrence Alma-Tadema) exhibited his huge picture, The siesta (No 101) at the 1868 Salon – because the owner of the one he wished to send, Phidias and the frieze of the Parthenon, Athens (No 104), would not allow it to be shown in public.  These were among the forty-eight paintings commissioned in 1867 by Tadema’s agent, Ernest Gambart.  Others completed this year including A Roman art lover: (Silver statue) (No 108), Flowers (No 105), and A Birth Chamber, Seventeenth Century.

English: Lawrence Alma-Tadema's art

A Roman art lover, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In London, at the 1868 Royal Academy, Millais exhibited Stella; Rosalind and Celia; A Souvenir of VelasquezSisters, a portrait of his three beautiful young daughters, Effie, Mary and Carrie; and Greenwich Pensioners at the Tomb of Nelson (originally titled Pilgrims to St. Paul’s).  Effie felt it would be important to posterity to record the details of each of her husband’s paintings over the years, and she had been writing a book since their marriage.  But Millais made fun of it, and she reluctantly gave it up this year.  Millais spent the autumn shooting in Scotland, as usual, with his friends the new Liberal MP for Oxford Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904), British painter Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73), and millionaire Underground Railway engineer Sir John Fowler (1817-1898).

As for Whistler, he exhibited nothing in 1868; he was discouraged.  When his mother left on a short trip to the United States to visit her family, he took the opportunity to get away from Chelsea to stay with a friend in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, a more quiet and conducive place to work.  However, his friend thought Whistler’s seven-month stay was very unproductive:  “His talk about his own work revealed a very different man to me from the self-satisfied man he is usually believed to have been.”   Whistler worked hard on several different projects during this time, but did not finish a thing.

Tissot’s mother had died seven years ago, too soon to see her hard-working, talented and ambitious son rising to still greater heights.

James Tissot - A Widow

A Widow, by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© 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 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

Tissot and Manet attempt to help their friend Degas, 1868

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.

Tissot 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. Certainly, after winning the right in 1866 – at age 30 — to exhibit anything he wished at the Salons and now busy with commissions from his aristocratic patrons, he did not need to kowtow to the critics.

At the 1868 Salon, Tissot exhibited an eighteenth-century costume piece, Un Déjeuner, and Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens, which was bought by Napoleon III’s influential cousin, Princess Mathilde. Demonstrating his range (perhaps unnecessarily by this time), Tissot also showed a watercolor, Melancholy, and a pastel portrait.

Edgar Degas - Portrait de Mlle Eugénie Fiocre

Portrait de Mlle Eugénie Fiocre, by Edgar Degas, Brooklyn Museum, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Degas exhibited only one work, his first major picture focused on dancers: Mademoiselle Eugénie Fiocre in the Ballet “La Source.”  He might have had another painting at the 1868 Salon; Tissot encouraged him to hurry and finish Interior (The Rape).  An envelope exists (now at the Bibliothèque nationale de France) with Tissot’s scribbled suggestions to Degas on this painting-in-progress. Tissot was late arriving at Degas’ studio and missed his friend, but wrote on the back of the envelope:  “Jenny turned out of the house. Pierre very annoyed, carriage difficult to find, delay because of Angele, arrived at the café too late, a thousand excuses. I shall compliment you on the picture only in person. Be careful of the rug beside the bed, shocking. The room too light in the background, not enough mystery. The sewing box too conspicuous, or instead not vivid enough. The fireplace not enough in shadow (think of the vagueness of the background in the “green woman” by Millais [believed to refer to Millais’ The Eve of St. Agnes, exhibited at the 1867 Paris International Exhibition]. Tissot’s notes continue, “Too red the floor. Not proprietary enough the man’s legs. Only hurry up, there is just enough time. I shall be at Stevens’s [Belgian artist Alfred Stevens] house tonight. For the mirror here is the effect, I think [Tissot sketched the mirror above the fireplace]. The ceiling should be lighter in a mirror. Very light, while throwing the room into shadow. Hurry up, hurry up.”

Interior (nicknamed The Rape).

Interior (The Rape), by Edgar Degas. Philadelphia Museum of Art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the front of the envelope, Tissot scrawled: “Beside the lamp on the table, something white to thrust the fireplace back, a ball of thread (necessary) [Here Tissot sketched the table, sewing-box, lamp and ball of thread.] Darker under the bed. A chair there or behind the table would perhaps be good. It would make the rug beside the bed acceptable [Tissot included a sketch of the table, with a chair in front of it.]

Manet exhibited Young Lady in 1866 and Portrait of Émile Zola; it was his first Salon since he showed Olympia in 1865, and though these paintings were accepted, they were not prominently displayed. Predictably, the Establishment critics disparaged his work, while the progressive critics praised it. Of the Zola portrait, one critic commented that it looked more like a still life, while another considered it “one of the best portraits in the Salon.” Compared to what he had endured, the reception Manet received now was calmer. Zola himself was encouraged for Manet and wrote in his review, “Success is on the way.” Others made more pointed observations: “The leader, the hero of Realism, is now Manet,” wrote one, while another resigned himself to the inevitable ascendancy of the new young painters, whose beauties “escape the rest of us old Romantic greybeards.”

Émile Zola

Émile Zola (1868), by Edouard Manet, Musée d’Orsay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still, during 1867 and 1868, Manet painted few pictures: only six in 1867 and seven in 1868. He destroyed many unfinished canvases; his confidence was shaken by the constant rejection of his work. He was no friend of Napoleon III, but he also was drifting away from his former comrade, Courbet, who was more than a bit jealous of the younger artist’s notoriety.

English: In front of the tribunes Deutsch: Vor...

Race Horses in front of the Tribunes, by Edgar Degas   Musee d’Orsay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the last week of July, Manet made his first trip to London, to “explore the terrain over there,” as he wrote to Degas, “since it could provide an outlet for our products.” Degas declined to join him, and when Manet returned, he wrote to another friend, “Degas was really silly not to have come with me.” He added, “I was enchanted by London, the feel of the place, the atmosphere, I liked it all and I’m going to try to show my work there next year.” He noted that Degas, who was painting The Parade, (also known as Race Horses in front of the Tribunes, Musée d’Orsay) had missed an opportunity, as “those well-trained horses would have inspired a few pictures.”

In a year, Tissot would go to London — and find immediate opportunity.

© 2012 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Un Déjeuner (A Luncheon), by James Tissot , c.1868 (oil on canvas),  Roy Miles Fine Paintings.  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

Un Déjeuner (A Luncheon), by James Tissot , c.1868 (oil on canvas), Roy Miles Fine Paintings. 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

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.

The high life, 1868: Tissot, his villa & The Circle of the Rue Royale

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.

James Tissot was talented, resourceful and independent, and he made his own decisions.  He didn’t shock, he didn’t break new ground, but he instinctively seized on emerging art themes.  He was a gentleman, a man of business, and a supremely accomplished artist of paintings in the traditional techniques.

He seemed to have no self-doubt, and he was on a winning streak of his own making:  he chose the path that led to financial rewards and Establishment acceptance while skirting the artistic rebellion of his friends.

In late 1867 or early 1868, Tissot moved from the rue Bonaparte on the Left Bank into the sumptuous new villa he had built at the most prestigious address in Haussmann’s renovated Paris:  the twelve-year-old avenue de l’Impératrice (Empress Avenue, now avenue Foch).  His mansion, actually on a private, quiet spur street later called the Square de Bois du Boulogne (now Square de l’avenue Foch), was very close to the gilded Dauphine gate, or porte, through the fortified wall encircling the cityJust west of Porte Dauphine was the extensive, fashionable recreational park, the Bois de Boulogne.  On the other side of the Bois, high on a hilltop, stood Fort Mont-Valérien, the strongest military fortress protecting Paris.  The Arc de Triomphe was a short walk to the east of Tissot’s new villa.

The avenue de l’Impératrice was extra-wide, with separate lanes for pedestrians, horseback riders and carriage traffic.  Exclusively residential, the avenue was flanked by broad, grassy slopes planted with colorful flowers.  The fashionable Parisians who promenaded or showed off their splendid horses there frequently glimpsed Napoleon III’s carriage with his green-and-gold liveried footman, the Empress Eugénie and her friends in an open barouche — off to the Bois to boat on the lakes — or Imperial soldiers on their impressive grey mounts.  The avenue de l’Impératrice was, like London’s Hyde Park, the place to see and be seen.

When Tissot visited London in 1862, he had particularly admired English buildings and gardens.  He then had built his Paris home as “an English-style villa,” high on a basement ground floor, with a first floor and a second floor with a terrace above, a courtyard and small garden.

La Cheminée (By the Fireside, c. 1869), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In his painting La Cheminée (By the Fireside, c. 1869)*, intriguing details of his luxurious interior are visible – the elaborate marble fireplace and its mantle and firebox decorated with tasteful accessories, Oriental carpet, tall windows dressed with tassled drapes.  Tissot’s L’escalier (The Staircase, 1869) shows the lovely wallpaper, stained glass panels, inlaid floors and expensive furnishings as well as a glimpse of his collection of blue-and-white porcelain vases.  People streamed to Tissot’s villa to view both his art and his renowned collection of Japanese and Chinese objects.

L’escalier (The Staircase, 1869), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 22 by 15 in. (55.88 by 38.10 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Imagine what his father, who early on had opposed his determination to be a painter in Paris, might have thought.

English: Dr. Thomas Wiltberger Evans, celebrat...

Dr. Thomas Wiltberger Evans  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Elihu B. Washburne (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tissot’s address was no. 64, avenue de l’Impératrice.

Among his neighbors were the influential American dentist, Thomas W. Evans (1823 –1897), whose home, “Bella Rosa,” stood at no. 41, at the intersection of avenue Malakoff; Dr. Evans also owned lot no. 43, adjacent to no. 41.

The Prince and Princess de Bauffremont owned an acre lot at no. 36, and the United States Minister to France, Elihu Benjamin Washburne (1816 – 1887), resided at no. 75.

In 1868, most likely due to his portraits of the Marquis de Miramon and his wife and family in 1865 and 1866, Tissot was commissioned to paint the most lucrative and elaborate painting of his career, a group portrait of the twelve members of “The Circle of the Rue Royale” on a balcony of the Hôtel de Coislin overlooking the Place de la Concorde:  the Marquis de Miramon, the Comte de la Tour Maubourg, Marquis de Lau, Comte de Ganay, Comte de Rochechouart, C. Vansittant, Baron Hottinger, Marquis de Ganay, Gaston Saint-Maurice, Prince de Polignac, Marquis de Gallifet and Charles Haas (standing far right).  The members of this exclusive private club, founded in 1852. each paid 1,000 francs toward the painting, whose owner was selected through a drawing.  The winner was Baron Hottinger, seated to the right of the sofa.  [The painting remained in his family until 2011, when it was purchased by the Musée d’Orsay for about 4 million euros.]

The Circle of the Rue Royale - Tableau en cour...

The Circle of the Rue Royale (1868), by James Tissot.  Musée d’Orsay, Paris.  From left to right: Comte de La Tour-Maubourg, Marquis de Lau, Comte de Ganay, Comte de Rochechouart, C. Vansittant, Marquis de Miramon, Baron Hottinguer, Marquis de Ganay, Gaston de Saint-Maurice, Prince de Polignac, Marquis de Gallifet and Charles Haas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It had been just twelve years since Tissot had earned an income drawing portraits of maids and hotel housekeepers for thirty or forty francs a head.

* La Cheminée (By the Fireside, c. 1869), which was in The John and Frances L. Loeb Collection from 1955 until sold at auction at Christie’s in New York in 1997 for $1,872,500 USD, brought £1,573,250 ($2,600,582) from a telephone bidder on June 11, 2003, at Christie’s in London.

© 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 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

Free on December 6, 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), Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), 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 December 6, 2012 at http://amzn.to/RBCZiu.

CH377762

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You will find a review at the bottom of this post.

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Please leave a comment to let me know what you find most enjoyable on my blog, and tell me a bit about yourself.  I invite you to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot – and to share your review on my page on amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE, or at http://www.goodreads.com/.

Lucy Paquette

P.S.  As of the end of the day on December 6, 2012, readers have downloaded 346 free copies of my novel in 48 hours!  Thank you!  Enjoy it.

© 2012 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Review from amazon.com:

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

By Linda L. McBrideSee all my reviews

This review is from: The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot (Kindle Edition)

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.

Les Adieux (The Farewells) 1871, by James Tissot, oil on canvas, 39 1/2 x 24 5/8, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, U.K.

Les Adieux (The Farewells) 1871, by James Tissot, oil on canvas, 39 1/2 x 24 5/8, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, U.K.  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

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

One of the most dazzling exhibits at the 1867 Paris International Exposition was the Japanese Pavilion, and it received more visitors than any other exhibit.  This was the first World’s Fair in which Japan participated.  The Japanese Imperial Commission to the Exposition was led by fourteen-year-old Prince Tokugawa Akitake (1853-1910), a younger brother of the man who would be the last Shogun under Japan’s feudal regime.

The Japanese delegation to the Exposition Univ...

The Japanese delegation to the Exposition Universelle, around the young Tokugawa Akitake. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The delegation arrived in Paris in March, 1867, and one year later, James Tissot was appointed gwa-gaku, or drawing master, to Prince Akitake.  (This fact was revealed in December, 1979, at the International Symposium in Tokyo.)

How was it that 31-year-old James Tissot was appointed to this position with a Japanese prince?  Alfred Stevens, who had been a successful painter for a decade and who was now 44 years old, was an avid collector of Orientalia and diligently capitalized on the cultural craze for exotic arts and crafts.  In fact, Stevens won a gold medal at the International Exhibition, where he displayed The Lady in Pink (1867, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium); it depicted an elegantly gowned woman near a Japanese carved and painted table, admiring a doll from “her” collection.

Though Stevens was much admired by the Imperial family, was he perhaps too busy to teach art to a foreign teenager?  Did the ambitious, younger Tissot seek the appointment, or was he perhaps recommended (through Princess Mathilde) by Napolean III, whose government was assisting Japan in reorganizing the Shogunate Army?  Or was it a coincidence of location — perhaps the young prince’s delegation lodged in the rue de l’Impératrice, where many aristocrats and foreign dignitaries [including Elihu Washburne (1816-1887), the United States Minister to France, and his legation] resided?  In late 1867 or early 1868, Tissot moved into his sumptuous new villa and chic “Oriental” studio in the rue de l’Impératrice, displaying his impressive collection of Japanese and Chinese art and artifacts to all who visited, including princes and princesses.

In any case, Prince Akitake made several visits to Tissot’s studio over the course of the seven-  or eight-month appointment, and Tissot painted his portrait in water-color mounted on a hanging scroll on September 27, 1868.  (Now at the Historical Museum of the Tokugawa Family, Mito, Japan, it wasn’t until about 1968 that the painter of this picture was identified, by a Japanese scholar, as James Tissot.)

徳川昭武。Tokugawa Akitake.パリ万国博覧会に徳川慶喜の代理として出席した時の...

Tokugawa Akitake at 14 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prince Akitake, who called his teacher “Chi-so,” returned to Japan in October, 1868 for the Meji Restoration, an era of modernization and industrialization which brought sweeping reforms in government, the military and the culture.  Eight years later, in 1876, Tokugawa Akitake was sent as the special emissary in charge of the Japanese exhibition to the Philadelphia World’s Fair.  He returned to France to continue his studies.  By this time, James Tissot’s carefree existence had drastically changed, and he now lived in London.

Related blog posts:

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

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

© 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 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

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