Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kathleen Newton by James Tissot: eight auctioned oil paintings

All auction prices listed are for general reader interest only, and are shown in this order:  $ (USD)/ £ (GBP).  All prices listed are Hammer Price (the winning bid amount) unless noted as Premium, indicating that the figure quoted includes the Buyer’s Premium of an additional percentage charged by the auction house, as well as taxes.

You won’t often see an image of James Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854–1882), in an art museum, as most are in the hands of private collectors.  The divorced mother of two was in her twenties when the wealthy and popular French painter, eighteen years her senior, captured her beauty and elegance for posterity.

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

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

Tissot’s 1877 Mavourneen (Portrait of Kathleen Newton) had been in a private collection in Australia before it was purchased by Theodore Bruce, Adelaide at Christie’s in 1984.  By the next year, it was with the Owen Edgar Gallery, London.  In 1995, it was sold to an American collector at Christie’s, New York for $ 2,300,000/£ 1,433,915.  The painting, in which Mrs. Newton wears the same ensemble as she does in October (1877), was last exhibited at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington from November 28, 2006, through March 30, 2007.  Kathleen Mavourneen was a popular love song of the time (“mavourneen” means “my darling”), as well as a play by William Travers, which enjoyed a revival at the Globe Theatre in July 1876.

A Fête Day at Brighton (c. 1875-1878), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 by 21 in. (86.36 by 53.34 cm). (Photo: wikimedia.org)

A Fête Day at Brighton (c. 1875-1878) sold for $ 875,000/£ 468,616 at Sotheby’s, New York in 1988.

Tissot’s Spring (c. 1878, 56 by 21 in. (142.24 by  53.34 cm) brought $ 1,572,556/£ 920,000 at Christie’s, London in 2003.

L’Ete (Summer), 1878, by James Tissot. 36 by 20 in. (91.44 by 50.80 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings)

The Paris-based art dealership Goupil & Cie purchased L’Ete (Summer) from Tissot in 1878, the year it was painted, for £220 (5,500 francs).  By 1884, it was in the possession of Philadelphia art dealer and critic Charles Field Haseltine.  By 1908-09, it was owned by John Francis Brice, Paris.  It passed to his son-in-law, Fitch Monroe Briggs, and then to his son, John Kirkpatrick Briggs, Massachusetts.  It was sold by the Estate of John Kirkpatrick Briggs at Sotheby’s, New York in 2002, and in 2007, it was sold again – for $ 1,484,700/£ 750,000 at Christie’s, London.

A Winter’s Walk (Promenade dans la neige) (c. 1878), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 31.10 by 14.57 in. (79.00 by 37 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The exquisite A Winter’s Walk (Promenade dans la neige) (c. 1878) has belonged to a number of private collectors over the decades:  J.C. Haslam Esq., 32 Queen Anne Street, Cavendish Square, London, whose executors sold it at Christie’s in 1900 to London-based art dealer Arthur Tooth.  By 1937, it was owned by Mrs. Bannister, and by 1956 by Henry (Harry) Talbot de Vere Clifton, Lytham Hall, Lancashire.  Christie’s sold it once again in 1965, to Leger Galleries, London.  It was in a private collection when it was sold by Sotheby’s, London in 1996, to another collector, for $619,160/£ 400,000.

A Type of Beauty (1880), by James Tissot. 23 by 18 in. (58.42 by 45.72 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

A popular Tissot image of Kathleen Newton, A Type of Beauty (1880), sold at Sotheby’s, New York 1989 for $ 675,000/£ 385,560.  In 1991, it sold at Christie’s, London for $ 273,760/ £160,000.  But in 1882, at Christie’s, London, no buyer could be found for it at £ 67 4s!

Quiet (c. 1881), by James Tissot. 13 by 9 in. (33.02 by 22.86 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Quiet (c. 1881) was bought by Richard Donkin, M.P. (1836 – 1919), an English shipowner who was elected Member of Parliament for the newly created constituency of Tynemouth in the 1885 general election.  The small painting remained in the family and was a major discovery of a Tissot work when it appeared on the market in 1993, selling for $ 416,220/£ 280,000.  In perfect condition, it shows Kathleen Newton and her niece, Lilian Hervey in the garden of Tissot’s house at 17 Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, in north London.  It was Lilian Hervey who, in 1946, publicly identified “La Mystérieuse” – the Mystery Woman – as her aunt, Kathleen Newton.

The Hammock (1879), by James Tissot.  50 in./127 cm. by 30 in./76.20 cm.  Image courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in "The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot," © 2012 by Lucy Paquette

The Hammock (1879), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 50 by 30 in. (127 by 76.20 cm). Image courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” © 2012 by Lucy Paquette

And, of course, The Hammock (1879), was sold by Christie’s, London in 2001 for $ 1,708,800/ £1,200,000.  It had not been seen in public since it was first exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery the year it was painted.

Français : James Tissot

James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“James Tissot was a charming man, very handsome, extraordinarily like the Duke [then, Prince] of Teck.  He was always well groomed, and had nothing of artistic carelessness either in his dress or demeanor.  At one time he was very hospitable, and delightful were the dinners he gave.  But these ceased when he became absorbed in a grande passion with a married woman who, to his great grief, died after he had known her but a brief time.”  Louise Jopling, Twenty Years of My Life, 1867–1887, London, John Lane, New York, Dodd, Mead, 1925.

For other images of Kathleen Newton, see my related blog posts:

A spotlight on Tissot at the Met’s “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity”

Tissot vs. Whistler, Degas, Manet & Morisot oils at auction

James Tissot oils at auction: Seven favorites

© 2013 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

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.

Advertisements

James Tissot oils at auction: Seven favorites

All auction prices listed are for general reader interest only, and are shown in this order:    $ (USD)/£ (GBP).  All prices listed are Hammer Price (the winning bid amount) unless noted as Premium, indicating that the figure quoted includes the Buyer’s Premium of an additional percentage charged by the auction house, as well as taxes.

La Cheminée/By the Fireside (c. 1869), by James Tissot. 20 by 13 in. (50.80 by 33.02 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

La Cheminée/By the Fireside (c. 1869), almost certainly depicting an interior of James Tissot’s sumptuous villa on the avenue de l’impératrice in Paris, was in the private collection of New York-based philanthropists John and Frances L. Loeb from 1955.  American stockbroker Jerome Davis purchased it from them at Christie’s, New York in 1997 for $ 1,700,000/£ 1,046,991.  When the stock market crashed and Davis fell into debt, he sold La Cheminée at Christie’s, London in 2003 for $2,334,780/£ 1,400,000.

The Japanese Scroll, by James Tissot. 15.24 by 22.52 in. (38.70 by 57.20 cm). Courtesy http://www.jamestissot.org

The Japanese Scroll (c. 1874) provides a glimpse of an interior from Tissot’s home in London, either 73 Springfield Road (now demolished), where he lived for a year from March 1872 to 1873, or his new Grove End Road house nearby.  It was sold at Sotheby’s, London in 1985 for     $ 285,802/£ 220,000.  In 2009, it was sold at Christie’s, New York for $722,500/£ 446,787 (Premium).

Autumn of the Thames, Nuneham Courtney, by James Tissot. 29 by 19 in. (73.66 by 48.26 cm). (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

Autumn on the Thames, Nuneham Courtney (c. 1871-72), was sold at Sotheby’s, New York on October 19, 1984 for $ 200,000/£ 167,855.  Nine and a half years later, on May 26, 1994 it again was sold at Sotheby’s, New York, this time for $ 425,000/£ 281,270.  Nuneham Courtney, near Oxford, was a popular destination for picnics after a row or punt up the Thames. Art historian Nancy Rose Marshall points out that this picture was more likely painted between 1874 and 1876, when Tissot used the same blonde model in the foreground in Quarrelling. 

Reading the News (1874), by James Tissot. 34 by 20 in. (86.36 by 50.80 cm). (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

Reading the News (1874) was sold at Christie’s, London in 1947 for $ 1,168/£ 290 – and then in 1983 for $ 252,892/£ 170,000.  Just six years later, it was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1989 for $1,250,000/£ 797,295 – at that time, the highest auction price on record for an oil painting by Tissot.

On February 17-18, 1993, four important paintings by Tissot were put up for sale at Sotheby’s in New York, by art collectors Joey and Toby Tanenbaum, a husband and wife from Canada with a family fortune based on steel.  They bought their Tissots in the 1970s but had become more interested in 17th century Spanish and Italian works.  They needed cash and hoped the paintings would fetch the 1989 record for Reading the News.

As it turned out, on February 18, 1993, Christie’s offered two major Tissot oil paintings at its sale of 19th Century European Paintings, Drawings & Watercolors.  One of them, L’Orpheline/Orphans (1879), beat the 1989 record – bringing $2,700,000/£ 1,867,865.  Tissot made a smaller replica of this enormous (85 by 43 in., or 215.90 by 109.2 cm) painting.  The smaller version, measuring 46 by 22 in. (116.84 by 55.88 cm), was sold at Christie’s, London in 1994 for $ 1,497,765/£ 930,000.

L’Orpheline/Orphans (1879), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Then there’s the diminutive Going to the City, which was sold in 1976, at Sotheby’s, Belgravia for $ 16,497/£ 8,500.  In 1990, it was sold as Going to business at Sotheby’s, New York for $180,000/£ 106,559.

Going to business (Going to the City), by James Tissot. 17 by 7 in. (43.18 by 17.78 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Loveliest of all, The bunch of Lilacs (c. 1875) was sold at Christie’s, London in 1877 for £ 346.10s, but failed to sell at the same auction house in 1881 for £ 236.5s or in 1887 for 167.15s.  It was sold at Christie’s, London  in 1975 for $15,249/£ 7,000, then once again at the same auction house for $ 134,235/£ 75,000 in 1982.  The setting is the new conservatory in Tissot’s St. John’s Wood house at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road.  (The plan for the extension with a studio and a conservatory, by architect J.M. Brydon, was featured in  The Building News in 1874.)  Incidentally, I find it likely that the model for this picture was British painter Louise Jopling’s pretty blonde sister, Alice.  Louise (1843–1933) wrote of Tissot in her autobiography, “He admired my sister Alice very much, and he asked her to sit to him, in the pretty house in St. John’s Wood.”  In this photograph of Louise and her sisters, look at the blonde on the left, in the back, and compare for yourself!

The Bunch of Lilacs (c. 1875), by James Tissot.  Image 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 Bunch of Lilacs (c. 1875), by James Tissot. 21 by 15 in. (53.34 by 38.10 cm). Image 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

©  2013 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, brings Tissot’s world from 1870 to 1879 alive in a story of war, art, Society glamour, love, scandal, and tragedy.

Illustrated with 17 stunning, high-resolution fine art images in full color

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

(295 pages; ISBN (ePub):  978-0-615-68267-9).    See http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

Tissot vs. Whistler, Degas, Manet & Morisot oils at auction

All auction prices listed are for general reader interest only, and are shown in this order:    $ (USD)/£ (GBP).  All prices listed are Hammer Price (the winning bid amount) unless noted as Premium, indicating that the figure quoted includes the Buyer’s Premium of an additional percentage charged by the auction house, as well as taxes.

On May 9, 2013, James Tissot’s newly identified Portrait of Clotilde Briatte, Comtesse Pillet-Will (pastel on linen, 35 3/4 x 63 1/8 in./91 x 160.5 cm.) sold for $185,000 (Premium) at Sotheby’s New York.

James Tissot (1836 – 1902) was a multi-millionaire by the time he built his sumptuous villa on the avenue de l’Impératrice in Paris in 1867; his patrons included aristocrats such as René de Cassagne de Beaufort, Marquis de Miramon (1835-1882), the head of an ancient family that could trace its ancestry back to the eleventh century and owed its title to Louis XIV.

At that time, Tissot’s friends Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883), Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) and James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 1903) struggled to be taken seriously and to sell their work.  In 1865, Manet sold a still life of two flowers in a vase and thought the sale might bring him luck.  Degas’ career only began to take off in mid-February 1869, when he and his brother, Achille, traveled to Brussels.  One of the king’s ministers there bought one of Degas’ paintings, and when his work was exhibited at one of the most famous galleries in Europe, he sold two more.  Then a well-known picture dealer offered Degas a contract for 12,000 francs a year.  Whistler was fortunate that, in the mid-1860s, D.G. Rossetti introduced him to Frederick Richards Leyland (1832 – 1892), a shipping magnate from Liverpool; Leyland would become Whistler’s first important patron by the early 1870s.

Now, even prints and pastels by Whistler sell for as much or more than many oil paintings by Tissot.  A pastel by Whistler sold for a record $ 650,500/£ 403,010 (Premium) at Doyle New York on May 9, 2012:  White and Pink (The Palace) depicts the façade of a Venetian palazzo on the Grand Canal.  It was sold by a descendant of the patron who bought it out of Whistler’s studio in 1881 – prominent American collector Louisine Elder (she married sugar refining baron Henry O. Havemeyer in 1883).  Whistler’s oil painting, Harmony in grey, Chelsea in ice (1864), sold for $2,600,000/£ 1,768,106 at Christie’s, New York in 2000 [and was given in 2007 to the Colby College Museum of Art, Maine, by Peter and Paula Lunder].  Variations in violet and green (1871) sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1987 for $ 2,350,000/£ 1,445,709 [and since 1995 has been in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris].

Danseuses à la barre - Signed 'Degas' (upper r...

Danseuses à la barre, by Edgar Degas,  Pastel, gouache and charcoal on paper 25 7/8 x 19 7/8 in. (65.8 x 50.7 cm) . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Degas’ dancers in pastel – and his bronzes – are more sought-after than his oils.  His Danseuse au repos (c. 1879 ) sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 2008 for $ 37,042,500/£ 23,366,239 (Premium).  Danseuses à la barre (c. 1880) sold at Christie’s, London in 2008 for $ 26,567,499/£ 13,481,250 (Premium).

Degas’ oil painting, Trois Danseuses En Rose/Three Dancers in Pink (c. 1886) sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 2008 for $ 8,441,000/£ 4,323,839  (Premium) [it had sold at Sotheby’s, London in 1989 for $3,280,200/£ 2,100,000.]  Les chevaux de courses, sortie du pesage (c. 1871-72) sold at Christie’s, London in 1991 for $ 9,033,750/£ 5,500,000.  Les Blanchisseuses, Les Repasseuses sold at Christie’s, London in 1987 for $ 12,416,120/£ 6,800,000.

Trois Danseuses En Rose, by Edgar Degas (Photo courtesy of www.edgar-degas.org)

Trois Danseuses En Rose, by Edgar Degas (Photo courtesy of http://www.edgar-degas.org)

Manet’s oil paintings not in public collections are prized by private collectors and art dealers.  Courses au Bois de Boulogne (1872) sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 2004 for $23,500,000/£ 13,105,794.  Manet sold La rue Mosnier aux drapeaux (1878) in 1879 to a Parisian collector for about $100, and it brought about $13,000 at a Paris auction in 1913.  In 1958, philanthropist Paul Mellon bought it at an auction of Berlin financier Jakob Goldschmidt’s collection for $316,000, a record at that time.  In 1989, the painting was purchased by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, CA, for $ 24,000,000/£ 15,175,466 – a record high for a Manet painting – at Christie’s New York.

la rue mosnier aux drapeaux

La rue Mosnier aux drapeaux, by Édouard Manet (Photo credit: Cåsbr)

Self-Portrait with Palette

Portrait de Manet par lui-même (Manet à la palette)/ Self Portrait with a Palette (1878) (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Portrait de Manet par lui-même (Manet à la palette)/ Self Portrait with a Palette (1878) is one of only two self-portraits Manet painted (and the only one in a private collection).  This self-portrait was once owned by Manet’s wife, Suzanne, and later by the French margarine magnate Auguste Pellerin.  It was purchased in 1958 at Sotheby’s, London, for £65,000 by John & Frances L. Loeb (New York) from the collection of Jakob Goldschmidt.  In 1997, it was sold through Christie’s New York, to U.S. hedge fund tycoon Stephen A. Wynn (Las Vegas) for $ 17,000,000/£ 10,469,914.  Thirteen years later, in 2010, it was purchased by New York dealer Franck Giraud for $ 33,228,758/£ 22,441,250 (Premium) at Sotheby’s, London.

Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus (1868), by Édouard Manet (Photo: wikipaintings)

Another measure of the value of Manet’s paintings occurred in 2012, when the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford raised £7.83 million (about $12.5 million) to prevent the French painter’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus (1868) from leaving the U.K.   The unfinished painting of Suzanne Manet’s closest friend, Fanny Claus (1846 – 1877) was once in the collection of John Singer Sargent.  It was sold by Sargent’s heirs to a foreign buyer in 2011 for £28.35 million.  The British government enacted a temporary export bar on the painting until August 7, 2012 to give the Ashmolean Museum time to acquire it at 27% of its market value.  The eight-month fund-raising campaign raised £5.9 million from the British government’s Heritage Lottery Fund; £ 850,000 from The Art Fund, a British cultural charity; and £1,080,000 million from trusts, foundations, and 1,048 individual donors whose gifts ranged from £ 1.50 to £ 10,000.

Edouard Manet, Le Printemps (1881). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Update:  On November 5, 2014, Manet’s Le Printemps (1881) was sold at Christie’s, New York for $ 65,125,000/£ 40,815,367 (Premium) to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  Depicting Parisian actress Jeanne Demarsy, it was a critical and popular success at the Paris Salon of 1882, and  the last of Manet’s Salon paintings still in private hands.  It was acquired from the artist on January 2, 1883 by French journalist and politician Antonin Proust 1832 – 1905), and by 1902 was owned by opera baritone, composer and art collector Jean-Baptiste Faure 1830 – 1914.  In mid-March, 1907, Le Printemps was acquired by Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris, and then by Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York in late November 1909.  It was immediately purchased by American businessman and Civil War veteran Colonel Oliver H. Payne, New York (1839 – 1917), once one of the wealthiest men in the country, and it was passed down within the same family for over a hundred years.  This sale set a world record for Manet’s work.

By contrast, most of Tissot’s work now sells for a fraction of the value of paintings by the friends he vastly out-earned in his lifetime.

The Garden Bench

The Garden Bench, by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The record price for a Tissot oil painting was set by Le Banc de jardin/The Garden Bench (c. 1882).  This was a favorite image of Tissot’s, depicting his happy few years with his mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854–1882), and her children in his garden; he kept it all his life.  It set an auction price record in 1983, when the American oil millionaire Fred Koch paid $ 803,660/£ 520,000 for it at Christie’s, London.  Koch intended to establish a Victorian picture gallery in Regent’s Park but was unable to secure planning permission and dispersed his collection.  In 1994, Le Banc de jardin set another record for a Victorian picture – as well as a record to date for a Tissot painting – when it sold for $ 4,800,000/£ 3,035,093 at Sotheby’s, New York.

Tissot’s October (1878) [presumably a copy of Tissot’s Octobre (1877) at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montréal, gift of Lord Strathcona and family, 1927] sold at Christie’s, London for $ 419/£ 150 in 1958.  October went on to set the second-highest price on record for an oil painting by Tissot when it was sold by Sotheby’s, New York in 1995 for $ 2,800,000/£ 1,775,185.

Here’s a summary of the highest auction prices to date of oil paintings by Tissot, Manet, Degas and Whistler – with top-selling paintings by Berthe Morisot (1841 – 1895) as well:

Manet, Le Printemps (1881), $ 65,125,000/£ 40,815,367 (Premium)

Manet, Portrait de Manet par lui-même (Manet à la palette)/Self Portrait with a Palette (1878), $33,228,758/£ 22,441,250 (Premium)

Manet, La rue Mosnier aux drapeaux (1878), $ 24,000,000/£ 15,175,466

Manet, Courses au Bois de Boulogne (1872), $ 23,500,000/£ 13,105,794

Degas, Les Blanchisseuses, Les Repasseuses, $ 12,416,120/£ 6,800,000

Morisot, Après le déjeuner (1881), $10,931,217/£ 6,985,250 (Premium) (sold February 6, 2013, Christie’s London).  This sale set an auction record for a work sold by a female artist.

Degas, Les chevaux de courses, sortie du pesage (c. 1871-72), $ 9,033,750/£ 5,500,000

Degas, Trois Danseuses En Rose (c. 1886), $ 8,441,000/£ 4,323,839 (Premium)

Tissot, Le Banc de jardin/The Garden Bench (c. 1882), $ 4,800,000/£ 3,035,093

Morisot, Cache-cache (1873), $ 4,600,000/£ 2,590,965 (sold November 2, 2005, Sotheby’s New York)

Morisot, Femme à L’éventail (1876), $ 4,365,000/£ 2,818,492 (Premium) (sold May 7, 2013, Sotheby’s New York)

Tissot, October (1878), $ 2,800,000/£  1,775,185, (sold February 16, 1995, Sotheby’s, New York)

Tissot, Preparing for the gala (c. 1874-76), $ 2,763,150/£ 1,500,000 (Sold June 8, 2006, Christie’s, London)

Whistler, Harmony in grey, Chelsea in ice (1864), $ 2,600,000/£ 1,768,106

Whistler, Variations in violet and green (1871), $ 2,350,000/£ 1,445,709

October, by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikipedia)

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

A spotlight on Tissot at the Met’s “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity”

Last week, I visited “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” at the Met.

The exhibition is overwhelmingly beautiful – almost too much to take in during one afternoon.  The Manets, the Morisots – the gowns!  It’s fabulous; you’re transported.  See it if you can, and if you can’t – take the Met’s virtual tour, gallery by gallery.  Among the wonderful exhibits is the actual costume worn in In the Conservatory (Madame Bartholomé).  Albert Bartholomé (1848 – 1928) saved the two-piece summer gown after his wife, Périe (1849-1887), daughter of the Marquis de Fleury, passed away too young.

Besides not wanting to miss this show, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to view so many of Tissot’s oil paintings in a single venue.  They are stunning.

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

Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née, Thérèse Feuillant (1866), is on loan from The J. Paul Getty Museum, in Los Angeles, California, which acquired the picture from the family in 2007.  Tissot depicts the 30-year-old Marquise in her husband’s castle, the château de Paulhac in Auvergne, leaning on the mantel in her sitting room with a stylish Japanese screen behind her.  It’s gorgeous – the photograph doesn’t do it justice.  The ruffles on her gown, which appear so precise, are lovely, curling brushstrokes.  Alongside is displayed a sample of the pink silk velvet used in the Marquise’s peignoir, produced with a modern aniline dye.  Her descendants kept this piece of fabric as well as the letter that Tissot wrote to her husband, who had commissioned the portrait, asking permission to display it at the 1867 Paris International Exhibition.  Permission was granted, and this private image was seen by the public for the first time.

It’s unfortunately the fashion to criticize Tissot’s work harshly.  A February 21, 2013 reviewer in The New York Times couldn’t resist disparaging the Portrait of Marquise de Miramon as “zealously detailed,” when that’s why it’s so wonderful.  (Remember Scarlett O’Hara’s dressing gown in Gone with the Wind?)  Visitors also are mesmerized by  Tissot’s Portrait of the Marquis and Marchioness of Miramon and their children and  The Circle of the Rue Royale.  People (including me) vie for a position close enough to examine these pictures, clearly reluctant to step away.  Tissot’s aristocratic images are magnetic, a bit voyeuristic, as they provide us with a glimpse of a lost world.

Two Sisters (1863), Portrait of Mademoiselle L. L. (1864), Portrait of the Marquis and Marchioness of Miramon and their children (1865) and The Circle of the Rue Royale (1868) all are from the Museé d’Orsay, Paris.

Two Sisters

The Two Sisters (1863), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 82.7 × 53.5 in. (210 × 136 cm). Museé d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

The Two Sisters was sold from Tissot’s studio, a year after his death in 1902, to a collector in whose name it was given to the Luxembourg Museum, in Paris, in 1904.  It has been in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay since 1982.  This is the first time The Two Sisters has been shown in the U.S.

Portrait of Mlle. L.L. (Young Lady in a Red Jacket) (February 1864), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 48 13/16 x 39 3/8 in. (124 x 99.5 cm.) Museé d’Orsay, Paris.  (Photo: wikipaintings)

Portrait of Mademoiselle L. L. was in the collection of the Luxembourg Museum from 1907 to 1929, when it was assigned to the Louvre; it has been at the Musée d’Orsay in 1978.  I love this painting – a depiction of such an independent, intelligent, confident young woman – with its softly-rendered pompoms.  Tissot’s paintings in the 1864 Salon – this one and Two Sisters – reflected the trend toward capturing “modernity,” and he began to hit his stride as an artist.  Mademoiselle L.L. has been exhibited once in New York before, in 1994, as well as in New Haven, CT in 1999 and in San Francisco, CA and Nashville, TN in 2010.

The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their Children (1865), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 69 11/16 x 85 7/16 in. (177 x 217 cm). Musée d’Orsay, Paris (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their Children is my very favorite Tissot painting.  It’s  gloriously lovely, a vision of perfection.  I had to jostle through the crowd of admirers to thoroughly scrutinize every detail.  The portrait remained in the family until 2006, when it was acquired by the Musée d’Orsay, and this is the first time it’s been exhibited anywhere else since 1866.

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

The Circle of the Rue Royale (1868), by James Tissot.  68 7/8 x 110 5/8 in. (175 x 281 cm).  Musée d’Orsay,  Paris.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Circle of the Rue Royale fills a wall at the Met, and visitors manage to peel themselves away, only to backtrack and examine some other intriguing detail.  Members of this exclusive club, founded in 1852, each paid Tissot a sitting fee of 1,000 francs.  He portrayed them on a balcony of the Hôtel de Coislin overlooking the Place de la Concorde (if you look closely at the original painting, you can see the horse traffic through the balustrade).  From left to right: Count Alfred de La Tour Maubourg (1834-1891), Marquis Alfred du Lau d’Allemans (1833-1919), Count Étienne de Ganay (1833-1903), Captain Coleraine Vansittart (1833-1886), Marquis René de Miramon (1835-1882), Count Julien de Rochechouart (1828-1897), Baron Rodolphe Hottinguer (1835-1920; he kept the painting according to the agreed-upon drawing of lots), Marquis Charles-Alexandre de Ganay (1803-1881), Baron Gaston de Saint-Maurice (1831-1905), Prince Edmond de Polignac (1834-1901), Marquis Gaston de Galliffet (1830-1909) and Charles Haas (1833-1902).  The Musée d’Orsay acquired The Circle of the Rue Royale in 2011 from Baron Hottinguer’s descendants for about 4 million euros.

Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby

Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1870), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 19.5 x 23.5 in. (49.5 x 59.7 cm). National Portrait Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

The small picture of Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1870) bursts with life.  Burnaby is too, too debonair, and the flicks of paint that create the gleam on his shoes are fascinating.  (I expected to be chastised for standing too close, but the guards were preoccupied with admonishing visitors that photographs are not allowed in the exhibition galleries.)

Tissot, 33 when he painted this image, owned a villa on the most prestigious avenue in Paris, and he occasionally supplied his British friend Tommy Bowles (Thomas Gibson Bowles,1841 – 1922), with caricatures of prominent men for Vanity Fair, Tommy’s new Society magazine which had made its début in London in 1868.  One of Tommy Bowles’ closest friends was the dashing Gus Burnaby (Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, 1842 – 1885), a captain in the privileged Royal Horse Guards, the cavalry regiment that protected the monarch.  Gus, a member of the Prince of Wales’ set, had suggested the name, Vanity Fair, lent Bowles half of the necessary £200 in start-up funding, and then volunteered to go to Spain to chronicle his adventures for the satirical magazine.  All Burnaby’s letters, which were first published on December 19, 1868 and continued through 1869, were titled “Out of Bounds” and signed “Convalescent” (he suffered intermittent bouts of digestive ailments and depression throughout his life). 

In 1870, Tommy Bowles, now 29, commissioned James Tissot to paint a small portrait of Burnaby.  Tissot presented Gus in his “undress” uniform as a captain in the 3rd Household Cavalry – and as an elegant gentleman in a relaxed male conversation.  The painting was purchased by London’s National Portrait Gallery from Bowles’ son (and Burnaby’s godson), George, in 1933.  Burnaby’s posthumous travels over the years have taken him (among other places) to Providence, RI; New Haven, CT; Buffalo, NY; Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, CA.  This exhibition takes him to Chicago next.

Ball on Shipboard

Ball on Shipboard (1874), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 33 1/8 x 51 in. (84.1 x 129.5 cm). Tate, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ball on Shipboard (1874) and Portrait of Miss Lloyd (1876) are from the Tate Britain, London.  Scholars have written that Tissot had a fixation with twins, but the Met’s show asserts that in Ball on Shipboard, Tissot was making a wry commentary on the rise of ready-to-wear fashion (and, of course, the tackiness of the nouveaux riches).  This is not Tissot’s only painting of women wearing identical ensembles:  see In the Conservatory (1875-76, also known as The Rivals).  Part of the viewer’s fascination with Tissot’s paintings is the enigmatic quality of his images:  they are as precise as photographs while they evade precise meaning.  You find yourself transfixed as you try to puzzle it out.

Portrait of Miss Lloyd

Portrait of Miss Lloyd (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 36 x 20 in. (91.4 x 50.8 cm).  Tate, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portrait of Miss Lloyd was purchased at Christie’s, London, in 1911 for £44.2.0 as An Afternoon Call and was acquired by the Tate in 1927.  When Tissot painted it in 1876, he titled it A Portrait.  The model for the drypoint version that Tissot made of this in 1876 was identified at a 1903 Paris auction as Miss Lloyd.

July (Speciman of a Portrait) (1878), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 7/16 x 24 in. (87.5 x 61 cm). Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

July (Speciman of a Portrait) (1878) is from the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio (bequest of Noah L. Butkin in 1980).  One in a series representing months of the year, the figure is modeled by Tissot’s mistress, Kathleen Newton (1854–1882).  Near this picture and Miss Lloyd’s portrait, the Met features a gown of the period very similar to Tissot’s prop costume, complete with graceful, loose bows of lemon-yellow satin ribbon.  [This costume also was used in A Convalescent and A Passing Storm, both painted in 1876, and Spring, c. 1878.]

Le Bal: Le Bal (Evening, 1878), by James Tissot. 35 7/16 x 19 11/16 in. (90 x 50 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Kathleen Newton also modeled for Evening or Le Bal (c. 1885).  The painting moved around Paris:  it was at the Musée du Luxembourg from 1919 to 1920, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 1948, then at the National Museum of Modern Art until 1977, when it passed through the Louvre before being assigned that year to the Musée d’Orsay.  Evening was exhibited in the U.S. in Atlanta, GA in 2002 and in Houston, TX in 2003.

After Kathleen Newton died in 1882, Tissot’s work lost something – heart, confidence, a compelling sense of himself present in his work from 1864 to 1882.  In Paris, during and after the Franco-Prussian War, he already had lost so much – the carefree life he had as a young artist on the rise; his reputation as he, alone among his set, remained in Paris throughout the atrocities of the Commune, even his brand-new villa and studio as he fled to London and remained for a decade.  He retained ownership of the villa and moved into a large home in St. John’s Wood.  There, his paintings of his domestic life with Kathleen exude joie de vivre, but after he moved back to Paris, there’s something cold about his work.

Women of Paris: The Circus Lover

Women of Paris: The Circus Lover (1885), by James Tissot. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo: wikipedia)

The Circus Lover (1885) is one in a series of eighteen called La Femme à Paris (Women of Paris).  The setting for this picture is the Molier Circus in Paris, a “high-life circus” in which the amateur performers were members of the aristocracy.  The man on the trapeze wearing red is the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, one of the oldest titles of the French nobility.  The painting, which measures 58 x 40 1/4 in. (174 x 102 cm.) was purchased by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts in 1958 for $5,000 as Amateur Circus.

The Shop Girl (1883-1885), by James Tissot. 57.5 x 40 in. (146.1 x 101.6 cm). Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

The Shop Girl (1883-1885), also part of the La Femme à Paris series, was acquired by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, in 1968.

James Tissot’s work was – and is – denigrated by the critics, as being too good – too smooth, too detailed, too meticulous.  The accepted line is that he didn’t bring enough that was innovative.  Tissot was as technically proficient as the popular Alfred Stevens (1823 – 1906), in depicting female beauty and luxurious fashions.  What Tissot brought was an eye for revealing character through detail, and his own urbane, wry wit.

Who but James Tissot could have portrayed the larger-than-life Gus Burnaby?  Who but Tissot would depict the matron looking down her nose at the attractive young woman on the arm of a much older man in Evening?  And who else would have painted the head of the man outside the display window over the neck of the window mannequin in The Shop Girl?

In 1869, the journal L’Artiste, in a review of Tissot’s painting, Young Ladies Looking at Japanese Objects, exhibited at the Paris Salon, commented, “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.”

Catching our breath at the Met's Balcony Bar

Catching our breath at the Met’s Balcony Bar

Tissot’s most arresting images have stood the test of time.

It was great fun to hop a train (with my all-too-willing husband) to spend an afternoon at the Met – and to view twelve Tissots at once.

Really, if you can’t make it there before the show closes on May 27, pour yourself a cold glass of champagne and Grand Marnier, have some chocolate-dipped strawberries on hand, and enjoy the virtual exhibition.

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

Exhibition Notes:

“Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity”                                                                          February 26 – May 27, 2013 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

A revealing look at the role of fashion in the works of the Impressionists and their contemporaries. Some eighty major figure paintings, seen in concert with period costumes, accessories, fashion plates, photographs, and popular prints, will highlight the vital relationship between fashion and art during the pivotal years, from the mid-1860s to the mid-1880s, when Paris emerged as the style capital of the world.

For more information, visit

http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2013/impressionism-fashion-modernity

“Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” is coming to the Art Institute of Chicago Wednesday, June 26 – Sunday, September 29, 2013

http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/impressionism-fashion-and-modernity

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.

NOTE:  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.