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.
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) 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.
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.
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 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) 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.
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.
“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:
© 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.
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.