Monthly Archives: January 2013

Of Snobbery, Death & Parlormaids: Millais, Alma-Tadema & Whistler, 1869

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 at http://bitly.com/SNCvYu to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

In March 1869, Millais, now 40, was in Hastings, recuperating from typhoid.  Several weeks later, at the Royal Academy, he exhibited a portrait of his deerstalking friend, the millionaire London Underground engineer John Fowler, as well as Vanessa, both painted the previous year.  But he was prolific, and he also exhibited The Gambler’s Wife, A Dream of Dawn, The End of the Chapter and Miss Nina Lehmann, daughter of F. Lehmann, Esq.

English: Vanessa, 1868, by John Everett Millais

Vanessa, 1868, by John Everett Millais (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet

Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet (Photo credit: Wikipedia) by J.E. Millais

In these years, while living at 7 Cromwell Place near the South Kensington Museum, John and Effie Millais socialized at grand balls and state receptions with the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, Cyril Flower (later Lord Battersea), and foreign dignitaries including Italy’s General Garibaldi, Prince Alexander of Bulgaria and the Shah of Persia.  Millais’ personal friends included notable literary, music, theatrical, scientific and political, diplomatic, and military figures.

Even so, while stag hunting in Scotland this year, Millais was frustrated to find the beats designated according to social rank, so that the lords and baronets were given the best shooting opportunities and Millais was relegated to stalking ground where there were no deer. Still, he characteristically referred to these men as “capital” chaps and only regretted that the snobbery was rather unsportsmanlike.

Whistler, living in London and still discouraged, had nothing to show for his artistic experimentation.  For all his earnest attempts, he did not complete any new work in 1869.  He had not exhibited his work since the Paris World Exposition in 1867.  He feared being rejected by the Salon and Royal Academy, and if his work was accepted, he feared the humiliation that it would be badly hung.

Whistler lived in some elegance at 2 Lindsay Row (now 96 Cheyne Walk), near Battersea Bridge, where he had moved upon his return from Valparaiso at the end of 1866.  He had broken off with Joanna Heffernan, though they saw each other occasionally.  Jo had been virtually his wife from 1861, modeling for him, managing his household and helping him sell his work.  But by 1869, at 35, Whistler had eyes for at least one other woman:  Louisa Fanny Hanson, age 20.  She is believed to have been a parlormaid from Clapham; she was the daughter of Frances Hanson, née Raymond, and Henry Hanson, a groom.

At this time, Tissot’s Dutch friend, Lourens Tadema (later Lawrence Alma-Tadema) was much decorated.  Living in Brussels, he had earned a gold medal at Paris in 1864 and a second-class medal at the International Exhibition at Paris in 1867; he was made a member of the Academy of Fine Arts at Amsterdam in 1862, a Knight of the Order of Leopold (Belgium) in 1866, a Knight of the Dutch Lion in 1868, and he was made a Knight First Class of the Order of St. Michael of Bavaria in 1869.

His art dealer, the influential Ernest Gambart who maintained his Continental office in Brussels, kept him close.  Gambart decided to enter two of Tadema’s best paintings — A Roman art lover: (Silver statue) (No 108, 1868) and The pyrrhic dance (No 111, 1869)  — into the 1869 Royal Academy Exhibition, now relocated from the National Gallery to Burlington House in Piccadilly. They were entered under the category of foreign works, and they immediately drew the ire of prominent art critic John Ruskin (whose marriage to Effie Millais was annulled in 1854).  Ruskin, now 50, described The pyrrhic dance as:

“the most dastardly of all these representations of classic life, was the little picture called the Pyrrhic Dance, of which the general effect was exactly like a microscopic view of a small detachment of black-beetles in search of a dead rat.”

A Pyrrhic Dance Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema - 186...

On May 28, 1869, Tadema’s wife of six years died of smallpox at the age of 32.  Marie-Pauline Gressin Dumoulin was the daughter of a French journalist, and it was on their honeymoon in Italy in 1863 – his first visit there — that he had been inspired to paint the life of ancient Rome.  He had painted her only a few times, as in My Studio (1867), and after her death, he never spoke of her again.  She left him with two young children – daughters, Anna (age two) and Laurense (age five).  His son had died of smallpox just four years earlier, in 1865.  Grief-stricken, Tadema’s health began to suffer, and he did not paint again until that autumn.  Tadema’s unmarried sister, Artje, had lived with him and Pauline; now she helped with the children and kept house for her brother at 29 Rue de la Limite.

My Studio (1867) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Courtesy of www.alma-tadema.org

My Studio (1867) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Courtesy http://www.alma-tadema.org

When Tadema’s doctors were unable to diagnose his medical problems, Gambart  advised him to consult with English physician Sir Henry Thompson (1820 – 1904).  Thompson*, who had been knighted two years ago, was a surgeon and professor at University College Hospital.  Six years earlier, he had performed a successful operation on the King of Belgium, who suffered from kidney stones.  In London, on December 26, Tadema attended a dance at the home of painter Ford Madox Brown (1821 — 1893) – and met Laura Theresa Epps (1852 — 1909).  The daughter of a doctor, Laura was a seventeen-year-old redhead — tall, slim, elegant, educated, musical, and interested in art — and the 33-year old Lourens Tadema fell in love with her.

Portrait of Miss Laura Theresa Epps (Lady Alma-Tadema), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.  Courtesy www.alma-tadema.org

Portrait of Miss Laura Theresa Epps (Lady Alma-Tadema), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Courtesy http://www.alma-tadema.org

Tadema did complete a number of paintings in 1869, including The convalescent (No 113, 1869), the first he completed after his wife’s death.  Others included A Wine Shop, Confidences, A Greek Woman, The Crossing of the River Berizina, and An Exedra.

English: Lawrence Alma-Tadema's art

Confidences (1869) Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile, James Tissot had been enjoying his enormous success in Paris for only about five years, and his villa only since early 1868.  He was 33, and 1869 would be his final full year to enjoy the elegant, carefree life he had made for himself in the French capital. His lucrative new sideline – contributing full-color political cartoons to London’s ground-breaking Society magazine, Vanity Fair – would open a new market for his work and would be, perhaps, the best bit of luck ever to happen to James Tissot.

 

Sir Henry Thompson * also was an artist who exhibited his paintings at the Royal Academy and the Salon in Paris.

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Watch my new video, “The Strange Career of James Tissot” (Length:  2:33 minutes)

 

Exhibition note:

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848-1900

February 17–May 19, 2013 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The first major survey of the art of the Pre-Raphaelites to be shown in the United States features some 130 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative art objects.

For more information, visit http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/preraphaelites.shtm

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.

1869: Tissot meets “the irresistible” Tommy Bowles, founder of British Vanity Fair

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.

In 1869, Tissot began contributing political cartoons to the newest Society journal in London, Vanity Fair, founded by Tommy Bowles.

Thomas Gibson Bowles (1841 or 1842 – 1922) was the illegitimate son of Liberal MP Thomas Milner Gibson and a servant, Susannah Bowles.  His father (and even his father’s wife and children) acknowledged him.  Tommy, a handsome and mischievous blue-eyed blonde, was educated in northern France and studied for a year at King’s College in the Strand, London.  His father continued to help him, giving him an annual stipend of £90 and finding him a job, by age 19, as a clerk at the Legacy and Succession Duty Office with the Board of Trade at Somerset House in London.  His biographer, Leonard Naylor*, notes:

His gallivanting in London in the 1860s is astonishing; countless journeys on foot or horseback in a city with no asphalt and also laden with manure.  Yet he was always elegantly turned out and a welcome guest in Society.  He was on friendly terms with many charming ladies in Society and on stage.  He was very attractive, and his looks and distinguished bearing fluttered many women’s hearts.  When in his twenties, women found him irresistible. 

Tommy, who liked sports, the theater, all-night parties, elegant clothes and living above his means, was not cut out for civil service (he called his office a “Haven for Sickly Youths”).  He earned £200 a year, and his rent was £110.  He asked his father to help him with his rent and to find him a more suitable position.

Meanwhile, Tommy met Algernon Borthwick (1830-1908, later Lord Glenesk), editor of the Morning Post, to which he began to contribute articles.  He also wrote articles for the Owl (enjoying the distinction of working with its prominent editorial board members), the Glow Worm (an evening newspaper mixing politics, satire and Society gossip) and the Tomahawk, a satirical magazine like Punch, except that it included “daring” full-page cartoons.  But by 1866, on his own initiative, Tommy was writing a daily column for the Morning Post.

On September 28, 1866, he left his job at the Board of Trade.  After borrowing £200 (half from his larger-than-life friend Gus Burnaby, a dashing officer of the elite Royal Horse Guards) Tommy started a new Society magazine, Vanity Fair, which débuted on November 14, 1868 at sixpence a copy.  Burnaby, a member of the Prince of Wales’ set, suggested the name and contributed articles.  By February 1869, when Tommy began to feature the novelty of a full-page political caricature in color in each issue, the magazine became increasingly popular.  The process of color lithography was undergoing technical innovations, and the reproductions were quite expensive to publish.  Tommy first paid Italian artist Carlo Pellegrini (1839 — 1889), under the pseudonym “Ape,” to draw caricatures for his magazine.  Pellegrini proved difficult to work with, and French artist James Tissot began to contribute in his place, under the pseudonym “Coïdé.”  [Bowles most often used the pseudonym “Jehu Junior,” Jehu being an Old Testament prophet and warrior “who pronounced the downfall of his enemies and then proceeded to destroy them.”]  Tissot, unlike Pellegrini, was trained in lithography; he turned in meticulous work in bright colors and brought a new, higher standard to Vanity Fair’s cartoons.

How did Tommy meet James Tissot?  Tissot, at 33, was famous in Paris; Tommy was five or six years younger and making a name for himself, even in France, with his controversial articles in London’s Morning Post (and the Post had a Paris correspondent).  It’s possible that they met through common acquaintances, perhaps at a Salon given by Lady Waldegrave [Frances, Countess Waldegrave (1821-1879)] at Strawberry Hill in Twickenham.  British painter J.E. Millais, who attended Lady Waldegrave’s receptions, knew Tissot well; perhaps he put the two in touch.  [It is known that, when Bowles was looking for a new cartoonist in 1873, Millais referred him to British artist Leslie Ward (1851 – 1922), so it is plausible that Millais referred to Bowles to Tissot in 1869.]

At any rate, by September 1869, Tommy Bowles was paying Tissot to provide caricatures for Vanity Fair.  Tommy, who gave himself a salary of five guineas a week, initially paid Tissot ten guineas for four drawings.  Within a few weeks he increased Tissot’s compensation to eight pounds for each drawing:  circulation had skyrocketed.

Tissot’s first subject was Napoleon III, whom he skewered.  Other 1869 subjects included the Queen of Spain, King of the Belgians, Emperor of Russia, Sultan of Turkey (Abdul Aziz), Rev. F. Temple, D.D. [Bishop Designate of Exeter], Earl of Zetland, K.T. and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Sovereigns No.1: Caricature of Napoleon III. C...

Sovereigns No.1: Caricature of Napoleon III, by “Coïdé” (James Tissot). Caption reads: “La regime parlementaire.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sovereigns No.2: Caricature of Isabella II of ...

Sovereigns No.2: Caricature of Isabella II of Spain by “Coïdé” (James Tissot). Caption reads: “She has throughout her life been betrayed by those who should have been most faithful to her.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Men or Women of the Day No.1: Caricature of Th...

Men or Women of the Day No.1: Caricature of The Rev Frederick Temple DD by “Coïdé” (James Tissot). Caption reads: “He has displayed ability in the free handling of religious subjects, and has nevertheless been made a Bishop.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bowles biographer Leonard Naylor notes:

Within a year of its inception, Vanity Fair was on a sound footing.  He [Bowles] had infallibly reliable cartoonists in Tissot and others, steady Society gossip, and the ability to dash off knowledgeable articles on a variety of subjects.  Within a few years, Vanity Fair was a smooth running business rather than an adventure. 

Tommy Bowles knew that James Tissot’s impeccable work was materially contributing to the success of Vanity Fair.  It all must have been quite a lark for the two stylish, handsome and ambitious young gentlemen who loved the good life.  Fortunately (and despite Tissot’s clear vision of Napoleon III’s precarious position as Emperor of France), they could not foresee where they would be in exactly a year.

English: Chromolithographic caricature of Mr A...

English: Chromolithographic caricature of Mr Algernon Borthwick, later 1st Baron Glenesk,  June 17, 1871 by “Ape” (Carlo Pellegrini). Caption reads “The Morning Post”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Men of the Day No.431: Caricature of Mr. Thoma...

Men of the Day No.431: Caricature of Mr. Thomas Gibson Bowles, founder of Vanity Fair,  July 13, 1889 by “Spy” (Leslie Ward). Caption reads: “Tommy” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*Leonard E. Naylor, The Irrepressible Victorian:  The Story of Thomas Gibson Bowles, Journalist, Parliamentarian, and Founder Editor of the original Vanity Fair, Macdonald, London, 1965

Another excellent source of information on Vanity Fair, Thomas Gibson Bowles and James Tissot is the National Portrait Gallery, London:  http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/set/361/Vanity+Fair+cartoons

 

© 2013 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 January 17 & 18, 2013!

At the Hermitage Museum in Norfolk, Virginia with an 1865 Tissot.

At the Hermitage Museum in Norfolk, Virginia with an 1865 Tissot, “Marguerite in Church.”

Welcome to my blog!  I’m continuing to chronicle 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).

CH377762My 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 January 17 and 18, 2013 at http://amzn.to/RBCZiu.  [Note:  As of midnight EST on January 18, free downloads of The Hammock for January 17 and 18 totaled 587 in the U.S., Canada & India; 33 in the U.K.,  2 in Germany, 13 in France, 1 in Italy and 1 in China!]

You can download the novel to your Kindle, and if you don’t have one, you can download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and Kindle Cloud Reader from amazon.com.  For links in the U.K., Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan, click my blog’s tab “Order Now.”  

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

My blog has had visitors from 63 nations including the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Russian Federation, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Georgia, Hungary, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Serbia, Estonia, Italy, Malta, Greece, Poland, Spain, Portugal, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Thailand, Mongolia, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Columbia, Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Bermuda, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Israel, Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Cambodia, New Zealand, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark!

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

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The Captain and the Mate, (1873), by 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, © 2012

The Captain and the Mate, (1873), by James Tissot.  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

5.0 out of 5 stars Brush Strokes on the Artist’s Life Canvas January 14, 2013

By Nan R. Cooper                               www.amazon.com       Format:Kindle Edition

As an admirer of splendid French art of the 19th and 20th centuries, I often stop to read the details of a particularly compelling painting when visiting art museums. Yet the museum experience scarcely conveys the forces surrounding the artist – world events, personal dramas, the larger societal and political stages – that inform the art. Lucy Paquette’s The Hammock is a lovingly, intelligently rendered story that effectively portrays the teeming, changing world that forged James Tissot’s vision as an artist.

We learn not only of his military service to France during the Franco-Prussian War, but also of his dogged commitment to rebuild his career and fame in Britain after fleeing the violent throes erupting throughout Paris; we learn of the bitter betrayals and jealousies among the artists of his day, many of whom were friends or acquaintances. We learn of his romantic liaisons, desires and disappointments, of his ambitions and heartbreaks as he struggles to achieve critical acclaim (from a morally corrupt but powerful critic) while earning vast sums from the sale of his paintings and prints, often to the “lower class” moneyed tradesmen in a socially stratified British society.

Ms. Paquette, who painstakingly researched the life of James Tissot, has filled her novel with lyrical, insightful, lively dialogue that breathes life into its subjects and allows the reader to experience the social, political and cultural transformations and upheavals that shaped Tissot’s world. Importantly, we meet the mysterious muse, Kathleen, who played a pivotal role in his life. It is a richly envisioned world, and Ms. Paquette is to be commended for her painterly language and smart storytelling: The Hammock is a satisfying and enlightening read. I recommend it!

Friendship, love & quarrels: Tissot and his friends Degas, Manet & Morisot, 1869

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.

In 1869, James Tissot was at the top of his game.  His paintings, for the wealthy and titled collectors he attracted, depicted the leisured and refined life of the Second Empire:  The Staircase, Le goûter/Afternoon Tea, At the Rifle Range, Les patineuses (Lac de Longchamps)/Women Skating (Lake Longchamps), and Rêverie.  He executed at least one grisaille sketch, Tuileries Gardens, of a masked ball given by the Imperial court – perhaps its last.

At the Rifle Range (1869), by James Tissot. (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

Tissot’s Salon exhibits included Young Women Looking at Japanese Objects and A Widow.  At the Cercle de l’Union Artistique, he exhibited two of a series of six portraits of Paris comedians.

James Tissot - A Widow

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

Though he had been made hors concours (beyond the competition) three years ago and could exhibit anything he liked without submitting his work to the Salon jury, Tissot’s work still was subject to critical reviews:

“Tissot is the declared enemy of aerial perspective, and he has sworn that by the force of talent and mind he will make us forget that there is an atmosphere which serves to unite the tones of color, to graduate them in their plane, and from them to bring out harmony. We will not stop before the large picture, which leaves us too much to desire in this direction, but we pass rather to the two delicious portraits of comedians. There Tissot, who had but one figure to paint, was obliged to renounce his monomania, and show himself that which he really is, a very skillful painter, and an artist full of spirit.”  (René Ménard, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, June, 1869)

Portrait of Josephine Gaujelin (1867), by Edgar Degas. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Meanwhile, Edgar Degas’ career began to take off at last.  In mid-February 1869, he traveled to Brussels with his brother, Achille.  One of the king’s ministers there had bought one of Degas’ paintings, and when his work was exhibited at one of the most famous galleries in Europe, he sold two more.  A well-known picture dealer offered Degas a contract for 12,000 francs a year.  Back in Paris, the Salon jury rejected one of Degas’ paintings but accepted another — his portrait of a prominent former ballerina, Joséphine Gaujelin.  [Mme. Gaujelin, who had commissioned the portrait, was so displeased with it that she refused it after it was completed, so we have to wonder what she thought of it being exhibited in public.]

Edouard Manet Eva Gonzales

Eva Gonzales, by Manet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For Berthe Morisot, the first months of 1869 brought the loss of her sister to marriage as well as the frustration and hurt of witnessing Manet’s new attachment to Eva Gonzalès (1849 – 1883).  Gonzalès, who was introduced to Manet by Alfred Stevens, became Manet’s first and only student.  The daughter of an influential Spanish-born novelist, she was beautiful, intelligent, talented and elegant — and only 20.

While Berthe Morisot looked to Manet as a mentor – and he used both Eva Gonzalès and Morisot as models – he clearly admired Gonzalès as a painter.  Morisot submitted no work to the 1869 Salon jury; she was suffering from an eye infection that impaired her vision.  But she was able to see Manet.

Considering that Manet had been forbidden by the French government to exhibit his incendiary new painting, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, he was fortunate that the Salon jury accepted two other submissions, The Balcony and Luncheon in the Studio.

The Balcony

The Balcony, by Manet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the first day of the Salon, Berthe Morisot found Manet anxious about the reception of his work.  She wrote to her sister, Edma, “I have never seen such an expressive face as his.  He was laughing, then had a worried look, assuring everybody that his picture was very bad, and adding in the same breath that it would be a great success.”  [Berthe’s mother, who was there, told Edma that Manet “looks like a madman.”]  Then he was in “high spirits” and escorted Morisot around the exhibition.  When they became separated in the crowd, she found him and chided him for leaving her side.  Manet replied that he was not about to play the part of a child’s nurse.  Still, Berthe wrote Edma, “I think he has a decidedly charming temperament, I like it very much.”

Edgar Degas - Monsieur et Madame Edouard Manet

Edgar Degas – Monsieur et Madame Edouard Manet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Manet was married, and his wife did not resemble either of the two slim, lovely and elegant young women painters in his life.  But when Degas painted M. and Mme. Édouard Manet, Manet was so furious that Degas had portrayed his wife in an unflattering way that he slashed off the third of the painting that depicted her features, leaving only the back of her head.  Degas took the canvas and stalked off; the two were not on speaking terms for some time.  Interestingly, it was the prickly Degas rather than the charming Manet who was eager to patch up their quarrel.  Degas said, “No one can remain at outs long with Manet.”

Edgar Degas's painting "Edouard Manet Sta...

Edgar Degas’s painting “Edouard Manet Standing” as a side view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Manet had his boundaries; his friends knew he did not take criticism well.  The new art critic for Le Figaro, after viewing Manet’s Salon paintings, declared, “Manet lacks imagination.  He will never accomplish anything else, you can count on it.”  After this and other reviews criticizing his technique, Manet fell into another depression.  Berthe Morisot wrote, “Poor Manet, he is sad.  His exhibition, as usual, does not appeal to the public, which is for him always a source of wonder.”

Morisot’s mother noted how people avoided Manet in the street so they wouldn’t have to discuss his paintings, and he no longer had the courage to ask anyone to pose for him – except for Eva Gonzalès, whose portrait he painted during that summer.

Morisot, lonely without her sister and, at 28, anxious about her future, spent the summer in Brittany.  That winter, she wrote to Edma, “I feel a great weight on my stomach and am forever disgusted with painters and with friendship.”

As for Tissot, in 1869, he would make a new friend, from England, who would be invaluable to him in the turbulent years to come.

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, brings Tissot’s world 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.

“Hurling towards the abyss”: The Second Empire, 1869

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.

For Tissot’s friend Édouard Manet, 1869 started badly with the government forbidding the exhibition of his new painting, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian.

Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian (1832 – 1867), the idealistic younger brother of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, had been installed in power in Mexico in 1864 by French Emperor Napoleon III as a means of recovering huge debts and of interfering with the United States during its Civil War. Three years later, Napoleon withdrew French military support for the puppet emperor, and Maximilian and two of his generals were captured by Mexican loyalists. They were executed by firing squad on June 19, 1867 under the orders of the Mexican president who had been displaced when the French took control.  When the news reached Paris, Manet, an ardent republican, went to work, first using an eight and a half foot wide canvas, and then restarting on another over nine feet wide before ending with a new one ten feet wide, to portray the outrage that shocked the French. He painted the Mexican soldiers in French uniforms and depicted the executioner in a goatee resembling the one worn by Napoleon III.  Manet also prepared a lithographic version of the scene which could be reproduced and sold to the public as prints. But in January, the government denied permission for the lithograph to be printed, and his incendiary painting was not allowed at the 1869 Salon.

Execution of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico

Execution of Emperor Maximilian, by Manet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Princesse Mathilde (1862), by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux.  Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Photo by Lucy Paquette

Princesse Mathilde (1862), by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Lucy Paquette

In August, 1869, the twenty-three year liaison between the suave, pompous Comte de Nieuwerkerke and Napoleon III’s influential cousin, Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, ended.  She had been as devoted to him as a wife, and she had secured numerous advantages for him.  It was due to Mathilde that Nieuwerkerke had been appointed by Napoleon III as director-general of museums in charge of the Louvre and the Luxembourg as well as the annual Salon.  Nieuwerkerke had been the most powerful figure in the French art world since 1849, and he dominated the Princess in her own home.  But while Mathilde always believed Nieuwerkerke would marry her someday (perhaps when his wife – and her husband –both died), it was well-known in Paris that he had never been faithful to her.  When he abruptly announced to her that he had proposed to a young girl, she turned him out of her house, later telling a friend, “And he had to go on foot across the fields, because I didn’t order a carriage for him.”

Emilien de Nieuwerkerke.

Emilien de Nieuwerkerke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie, who always had disapproved of Princess Mathilde’s infatuation with Nieuwerkerke, had their own problems.  Napoleon’s health declined and, at the age of 61, he had to manage both painful rheumatism and a bladder stone.  By early September 1869, he was well enough to ride in a carriage in the Bois de Boulogne and to attend the theater.  But while the Empress Eugénie, now 43, attended what would turn out to be the Imperial court’s last masked ball dressed as Marie Antoinette, the Legislative Assembly elections in May brought twenty-five Republicans, and nearly half of the voters selected candidates who opposed the Emperor’s regime.  There were socialist and working-class uprisings in Paris, repeated riots at night in June, and workers’ strikes.  During one, government troops fired on striking coal miners and killed fourteen people, including a baby girl.  Foreigners fled the country.  “The Second Empire, a British diplomat wrote, “is hurling itself […] towards the abyss.”

Gustave Courbet would contribute mightily to that end.  From October 1868 to May or June 1869, Courbet was in Ornans, his home town in the east of France.  He was not painting; he was tinkering with his invention of a light carriage with only one wheel (his father had invented a cart with five wheels).  One friend observed to another, “His volcanic imagination is stimulated by the new invention to such a degree that he will forget to get drunk until the work is completed.”

In 1869, Courbet exhibited three paintings at the Salon which he had already shown at his pavilion near the 1867 Paris Exposition:  Siesta, the Hallali and Mountains of the Doubs.  The young painter Frédéric Bazille (1841 – 1870) wrote that Courbet’s paintings were like masterpieces among universal dullness.  But financial misfortunes seemed to dog Courbet; an art dealer who owed Courbet 30,000 francs went bankrupt.  “I really have no luck,” Courbet wrote.

The Cliffs at Etretat (1869), by Gustave Courbet. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

In mid-August, Courbet was at Etretat, in northern France, sea-bathing and painting.

Guy de Maupassant (1850 – 1893), a young scholar who was to become a prominent writer of short fiction, recalls seeing Courbet on a visit to Etretat in September, 1869:

In a vast, empty room, a fat, dirty, greasy man was slapping dollops of white paint on a blank canvas with a kitchen knife.  From time to time he would press his face against the window and look out at the storm.  The breakers came so close that they seemed to batter the house and completely envelop it in foam and the roar of the sea.  The salty water hammered the panes like hail and ran down the walls.  This work became ‘The Wave’ and caused a public sensation.

Courbet completed nine seascapes at this time (including Cliffs at Etretat and Stormy Sea) and sold five of them for a total of 4,500 francs.  As he began a large new one to exhibit at the 1870 Salon, he learned that his work had been awarded a gold medal at the International Exhibition in Brussels (by a unanimous vote) and that he had received another official decoration at an exhibition in Munich.  He traveled there in September to accept, and in addition to the fêtes in his honor, there was a beer-drinking contest.  Courbet won.  He was asked to give a technical demonstration to the edification and delight of the members of the Bavarian Academy, and before he left Munich, he dashed off a souvenir painting for his admirers, which he signed, “COURBET, without ideals and without religion.”

He would live up to that slogan within the next two years.

© 2013 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.

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

James Tissot’s studio, a showcase for his renowned collection of Japanese art, became a landmark to see when touring Paris – and, for Tissot, it was a brilliant marketing tool to attract commissions.

Within about five years, his collection of Japanese art and objets had grown to include a model of a Japanese ship, a Chinese shrine and hardwood table, and a Japanese black lacquered household altar, along with dozens of embroidered silk kimonos, Japanese dolls, folding screens and porcelains.  Tissot’s Parisian villa provided the lavish interiors filled with Oriental carpets, furniture, fabrics, carvings, vases and wall hangings that he used in his paintings.

Young Women Looking at Japanese Objects

Jeunes femmes regardant des objects japonais, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 24 by 19 in. (60.96 by 48.26 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

In 1869, he assimilated these exotic items into elegant compositions in three similar paintings featuring young women looking at Japanese objects. 

Young ladies admiring Japanese objects (1869), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 22 by 15 in. (55.88 by 38.10 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

By the 1930s, the version below was hanging in an interior decorator’s store on Third Street in Cincinnati and was purchased by Dr. Henry M. Goodyear; he and his wife gifted Tissot’s picture to the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1984.

The artist Berthe Morisot, after visiting the 1869 Salon, wrote to her sister, “The Tissots seem to have become quite Chinese this year.”  The exquisitely detailed version of Young Women Looking at Japanese Objects on exhibit prompted one critic to write:

“Our industrial and artistic creations can perish, our morals and our fashions can fall into obscurity, but a picture by M. Tissot will be enough for archaeologists of the future to reconstitute our epoch.”

Tissot employed japonisme more sensationally (and with more financial success) than anyone at that time except for Alfred Stevens.  In London, where Jimmy Whistler had been exploring japonisme in his work for the past four years without much praise, Millais only added a Japanese fan near the bottom of his portrait of little Miss Davidson (1865).

Miss Davidson, by Millais 1865

Miss Davidson, by Millais 1865 (Photo credit: Martin Beek)

Émile Zola

Émile Zola by Manet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for Manet and Degas at this time, while they were absorbing new concepts of color, shading, perspective and composition from Japanese prints, they merely added a touch of japonisme in their work.  Manet added a Japanese screen, as well as a Japanese print in his 1868 portrait of his defender, the writer Émile Zola. 

Degas included a Japanese screen in the background of his 1867 portrait of Tissot, and his portrait of Madame Camus, (1869-70, Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) depicts her holding a fan. 

Tissot continued to surround himself with Japanese art.  As it would turn out, he had very little time left to enjoy it.

Young Women looking at Japanese articles (1869), by James Jacques Joseph Tissot. Oil on canvas, 70.5 x 50.2 cm. Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio, USA; Gift of Henry M. Goodyear, M.D. 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

Young Women looking at Japanese articles (1869), by James Jacques Joseph Tissot. Oil on canvas, 70.5 x 50.2 cm. Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio, USA; Gift of Henry M. Goodyear, M.D. 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

Related blog posts:

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

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

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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.

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.