Monthly Archives: July 2013

Tissot in the Conservatory

All 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.

James Tissot enjoyed an elegant life in his new suburban villa in Paris only from early 1868 to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in mid-1870.  His home, with its chic studio, overlooked the social parade of pedestrians, horse traffic and carriages on the on the rue de l’Impératrice (Empress Avenue, now avenue Foch).  Amid the profuse plantings of his glassed-in conservatory, Tissot painted beautiful women in the latest fashions.

Dans la serre (In the Conservatory, by James Tissot.  (1867-69), 28 x 16 in. (71.12 x 40.64 cm.).  Courtesy www.jamestissot.org

Dans la serre (In the Conservatory, by James Tissot. (1867-69), 28 by 16 in. (71.12 by 40.64 cm).  Private Collection.  Courtesy http://www.jamestissot.org

Dans la serre (In the Conservatory) (c. 1869) was sold at Christie’s, New York in 1997 for $440,000/£ 270,986.  In 2006, it was sold by the same auction house for $320,000/£ 170,475.

The Convalescent (A Girl in an Armchair, 1872), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 14 ¾ by 18 in. (37.5 by 45.7 cm). Art Gallery of Ontario. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

The Convalescent (1872, also called A Girl in an Armchair) was a gift to the Art Gallery of Ontario from R.B.F. Barr, Esq., Q.C., in 1966.  This painting actually can be dated to 1870, meaning that Tissot painted it at his villa in Paris, in the conservatory.

Following the bloody end to the Paris Commune, James Tissot fled to London in May or June, 1871, arriving with only a hundred francs.  By 1873, he was living in a comfortable suburban home at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road in St. John’s Wood, where he built an extension with a studio and conservatory in 1875 that doubled the size of the house.  The plan for the extension, by architect J.M. Brydon, was featured in The Building News on May 15, 1874:  “it is a large apartment, amply lighted, principally from the north and east.  The whole of one side is open to a large conservatory, from which it is separated by an arrangement of glass screens and curtains.  The floor is laid with oak parquet, and the walls are hung with a kind of tapestry cloth of a greenish blue color.”

In his new conservatory, Tissot painted some of his loveliest images.

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76), by James Tissot.  46 by 30 in. (116.84 by 76.20 cm).  Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76) was owned by British cotton magnate, MP and contemporary art collector Edward Hermon (1822 – 1881) by 1877, the year his only daughter was married.  In 1882, Hermon’s estate sold it through Christie’s, London to the prominent art dealership Arthur Tooth and Son.  The painting next belonged to Surgeon-Major (the ranking surgeon of a regiment in the British Army) John Ewart Martin, South Africa and remained in a private collection of his descendants in South Africa until sold through Phillips, London,1993, to the Christopher Wood Gallery, London, for $ 372,125/£ 250,000.  The painting was sold by that gallery to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute at Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1994.  It is currently touring the world as part of the travelling exhibition, “Great French Paintings from the Clark.”  Since Spring, 2011, it has been seen in Milan, Italy; Giverny, France; Barcelona, Spain; Fort Worth, Texas; London, England; Montréal, Canada; and Tokyo, Japan.  The exhibition is at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe, Japan, through September 1, 2013, and it will then travel to its final destination, the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China, from September 19 to December 1, 2013.  Chrysanthemums should return to the Clark in July, 2014.

In the Conservatory (c. 1870), by James Tissot.  16 x 13 in. (40.64 x 33.02 cm.).  Courtesy www.jamestissot.org

In the Conservatory (c. 1875), by James Tissot. 16 by 13 in. (40.64 by 33.02 cm). Courtesy http://www.jamestissot.org

In the Conservatory (c. 1875) was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1999 for $150,000/£91,235.  Tissot seems to be experimenting with the looser brushwork of his friends in Paris, Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet; the first exhibition of the painters who together became known as the Impressionists was in 1874.  Note the black velvet ribbon at the neck of Tissot’s models in 1875; his friend, the British artist Louise Jopling (1843 – 1933), observed in her autobiography that a fashionable woman was not considered dressed “without her velvet.”

In the Conservatory (The Rivals, c. 1875-1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 15 1/8 by 20 1/8 in. (38.4 by 51.1 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Another In the Conservatoryalso known as The Rivals, (c. 1875-1876), was sold at Christie’s, London in 1981 for $ 109,848/£ 60,000.  This highly detailed painting measures only 15 1/8 by 20 1/8 in. (38.4 by 51.1 cm).  Tissot also painted twins in The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874), in the collection of Tate Britain, London.  No one knows why, but it could simply be that he knew a set of twins and was as fascinated by them as Mr. Eshton in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

A theory suggested in the blockbuster exhibition, “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity,” is that Tissot used twins to paint gowns from different angles, like fashion plates, or as a commentary on mass-produced, ready-to-wear clothing.

Would you like to own this painting?  Gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by New York socialite, philanthropist and fine arts collector Mrs. Jayne Wrightsman in 2009, In the Conservatory (Rivals) – which last was exhibited publicly in 1955 will be sold by the Met at Christie’s 19th Century European Art sale in New York on Monday, October 28, 2013.  It is estimated to sell for $2.5 million to $3.5 million USD.  [See Tissot vs. Whistler, Degas, Manet & Morisot oils at auction and For sale: In the Conservatory (Rivals), c. 1875, by James Tissot.]  Incidentally, the Christie’s auction catalog contains another theory for the matching gowns in this painting:  “It is possible that the two young women in pale blue are intended to be siblings, as sisters (not just twins) often wore matching dresses at this time.”

The Fan

The Fan (1875), by James Tissot. 15 by 19 in. (38.10 by 48.26 cm.) Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

The Fan (1875) was sold at Sotheby’s, London in 1982 for $ 73,974/£ 42,000 to Charles Jerdein (1916 – 1999).  Jerdein was the trainer who officially received the credit when thoroughbred Gilles de Retz landed the 2,000 Guineas in 1956; the Jockey Club did not recognize the female trainer, Helen Johnson-Houghton.  Jerdein left Mrs. Johnson-Houghton’s operation that year, trained on his own for a short time, then concentrated on his business as an art dealer in London, though he occasionally had a horse in training in Newmarket.  By the early 1960s, Jerdein had pioneered the market for paintings by James Tissot’s friend, the Dutch-born Victorian painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912), before Alma-Tadema’s name became associated with the American television personality who collected his work, Allen Funt of “Candid Camera.”

Jerdein sold The Fan to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut.  From March 23 to September 8, 2013, The Fan was in the Mississippi Museum of Art’s “Old Masters to Monet” exhibition, one of fifty master works of French art spanning three centuries from the Wadsworth’s collection.  The Fan next will be on display at the Denver Art Museum’s exhibition, “Court to Café: Three Centuries of French Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum,” in the Hamilton Building, Level 2, from October 27, 2013 to February 9, 2014.  The exhibition will include furnishings from the Denver Art Museum’s collection and costumes on loan from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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. Private Collection.  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 (1875) epitomizes grace and leisure.  It measures 21 by 15 in. (53.34 by 38.10 cm) and was sold at Christie’s, London in 1975 for $ 15,249/£ 7,000.  In 1982, it was sold again by the same auction house for $ 134,235/£ 75,000 – surely a bargain.  If you look at Tissot’s The Rivals, above, you’ll see the elaborate birdcage and the small Chinese table in the background, near the woman in the white and yellow gown.

Rivals (1878 – 1879), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 36.22 by 26.77 in. (92 by 68 cm). Private collection.

Update, March 17, 2015:  In October, 2014, Tissot’s The Rivals (I rivali, 1878–79) was sold at Casa d’Aste Pandolfini, Florence, Italy.  Set in Tissot’s conservatory, it depicts Kathleen Newton cast as a young widow, crocheting while taking tea with two suitors, one middle-aged and one old.  Tissot exhibited it with a number of other works at London’s Grosvenor Gallery in 1879, and that same year, it was shown at the Royal Manchester Institution’s Exhibition of Modern Paintings and Sculpture, priced at £400.  It was purchased by John Polson, of Tranent and Thornly [who also owned Tissot’s A Portrait (1876, Tate, London)], and sold by his executors at Christie’s, London in 1911.  It then belonged to Sir Edward James Harland (1831–1895), head of the Belfast shipbuilding firm of Harland and Wolff and sometime M.P. for North Belfast, of Glenfarne Hall, near Enniskillen, Ireland and Baroda House in Kensington Palace Gardens, London, where it was sold by his executors at Christie’s upon his widow’s death in 1912.  Since 1913, The Rivals has been in private collections in Milan, beginning with the Ingegnoli Collection.  It was sold by Paul Ingegnoli’s executors at Galleria Pesaro in 1933 and purchased by a Milanese private collector.  It was displayed in public again only in Milan, at the Palazzo della Permanente, La Mostra Nazionale di Pittura, “L’Arte e il Convito,” in 1957.  At the 2014 sale, The Rivals was purchased for € 954,600 EUR (Premium) [$ 1,215,969/£ 753,715].

The Rivals, in pristine condition, is on display at the Stair Sainty Gallery booth at TEFAF in Maastricht, Netherlands (March 13-22, 2015), the world’s leading art fair.  In 2014, TEFAF attracted 74,000 visitors; TEFAF 2015 includes 275 leading galleries from 20 countries.

To read more about James Tissot’s opulent Parisian villa, click here and here.

To read about the Paris that Tissot left, click here, and to read about London at the time of his arrival, click here.

© 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.

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Tissot in the U.K.: Cambridgeshire, Oxford & Bury St. Edmunds

Tucked away in public collections outside London are a few oil paintings by James Tissot that illuminate his career in the years between 1869 and 1872.  From a pretty scene he painted during his immense success in Paris to commissions he executed in his struggle to rebuild his career in London after the Franco-Prussian War and its bloody aftermath, the Commune, these paintings in combination reveal a great deal about Tissot’s most eventful years.

At the Rifle Range (1869), by James Tissot. 26 ½ x 18 ¾ in. (67.3 x 47.6). Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, U.K. (Photo wikipaintings.org)

By 1865, James Tissot was earning 70,000 francs a year, and in 1866 he built himself a splendid mansion in the avenue de l’Impératrice (now the avenue Foch), Baron Haussmann’s magnificent new street linking the place de l’Etoile and the Bois de Boulogne.

Some scholars believe that Tissot painted At the Rifle Range (also known as The Crack Shot, 1869) in the garden of the home of his friend, Tommy Bowles (Thomas Gibson Bowles, 1841 – 1922), at Cleeve Lodge in Hyde Park, London, and that the man in the background may be Tommy, a young journalist who founded the weekly Society magazine Vanity Fair in 1868.  The man does not, however, bear a resemblance to Bowles, then 28 years old, and the painting could well have been set in Tissot’s own garden at his villa in Paris before the Franco-Prussian War began in 1870.

At the Rifle Range was offered for sale by the London banker Murrieta at Christie’s, London in 1883 as The Crack Shot, for £220.10s but failed to find a buyer at that price.  In 1934, it again was offered for sale at Christie’s, sold as The Rifle Range to prominent art dealer Arthur Tooth for £52.10s.  By 1936, it was at the Leicester Galleries in London, where it was purchased by Captain Bambridge the following year.

Captain George Bambridge (1892 – 1943), a British diplomat, was married to Rudyard Kipling’s daughter, Elsie (1896 – 1976).  Between 1933 and 1937, George and Elsie lived at Burgh House in Hampstead.  From 1938, the childless couple resided at Wimpole Hall, about 8½  miles (14 kilometres) southwest of Cambridge.  Since Elsie Bambridge’s death in 1976, the estate has been owned by the National Trust and is open to the public; click here for more information.  Can’t visit?  Click here to see At the Rifle Range in this virtual tour of Mrs. Bambridge’s study  – and if you look closely, you’ll also see a Tissot oil painting of his mistress and muse Kathleen Newton (1854-1882) on the wall to the left of At the Rifle Range.  It’s A Study for “By Water”: Kathleen Kelly, Mrs.  Isaac Newton, c. 1880 (oil on panel, 12 ¼ by 10 in. /31.1 x 25.4 cm.).

English: Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue, 1st B...

Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue, 1st Baron Carlingford (1823-1898), 1871, by James Tissot  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chichester Fortescue, later Baron Carlingford (1823 – 1898), was a politically ambitious, pedantic Irishman and Liberal MP for County Louth from 1847 to 1868.  He became a junior lord of the treasury in 1854, and in 1863, he married the beautiful, virtuous and politically influential Society hostess Frances, Countess Waldegrave (1821-1879), previously the wife of the 7th Earl Waldegrave.  According to her biographer, Fortescue had been in love with her for a decade before her elderly third husband died, and she chose him out of the three or so men who wished to marry her.  Fortescue held minor offices in the Liberal administrations until he was made Chief Secretary for Ireland under Lord Russell from 1865 through 1866, and again under Gladstone from 1868 to 1870.

James Tissot was friendly with Countess Waldegrave, who shared his interest in spiritualism; at some point, he painted her portrait in her boudoir.  Frequent guests at her fabulous salons in London and at Strawberry Hill in Twickenham included Gladstone, Disraeli, and the Prince and Princess of Wales.  In 1871 – shortly after Tissot had fled Paris – the charming and “irresistible” Countess Waldegrave pulled strings to get Tissot a lucrative commission to paint a full-length portrait of her fourth husband, which was funded by a group of eighty-one Irishmen including forty-nine MPs, five Roman Catholic bishops and twenty-seven peers to commemorate his term as Chief Secretary for Ireland under Gladstone – as a present to his wife.

Vanity Fair, August 14, 1869, Statesmen No. 28: Caricature of The Rt. Hon. Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue. Caption reads: “He married Lady Waldegrave and governed Ireland.” By Carlo Pellegrini. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

From 1871 to 1874, Chichester Fortescue was President of the Board of Trade.  His full-length portrait by Tissot, which measures 74 ½ x 47 ½ in. (189.2 x 120.7 cm.), was given to the University of Oxford by sitter’s nephew, Francis Fortescue Urquhart (1868-1934), Fellow of Balliol College, about 1904.  It was re-hung in the North School in 1957.  You can glimpse the painting at minute 2:46, left of center, in a video of the University of Oxford Examination Schools Conference Centre.  Just cut and paste this link into your Internet browser:  youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN2ou1LyEE4.

James Tissot arrived in London in May or June, 1871 with less than one hundred francs but with numerous British friends including Tommy Bowles.  [To read more about their friendship, click here and here.]  Bowles, who was living at Cleeve Lodge, Queen’s Gate, near Hyde Park, let Tissot use his rented apartment in Palace Chambers at 88 St. James’s Street.  Tissot sold caricatures to Vanity Fair and painted on commission, and soon he moved into a rented house at 73 Springfield Road, St. John’s Wood.

Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson (September 28, 1849 — September 30, 1880), c. 1872, by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tommy Bowles was the illegitimate son of Thomas Milner Gibson (1806 – 1884), a Liberal MP for Manchester and President of the Board of Trade from 1859 to 1866, and Susannah Bowles, a servant.  Tommy was an adorable little boy, and his stepmother, Arethusa Susannah (1814 – 1885), a Society hostess who was the only child of Sir Thomas Gery Cullum (1777 –1855) of Hardwick House, Suffolk, insisted that he be raised with his father’s family of four sons and two daughters.  Tommy’s favorite half-sister was Sydney Milner-Gibson, nearly eight years younger, and in 1871, when Sydney was 22, he commissioned Tissot to paint her portrait.

At  50 by 39.02 in. (127.0 by 99.1 cm), the portrait of Sydney is much larger than the 1870 portrait that Bowles commissioned Tissot to paint of his dashing friend Gus Burnaby (Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, 1842 – 1885), a captain in the privileged Royal Horse Guards, the cavalry regiment that protected the monarch.  [Burnaby’s portrait, usually in the National Portrait Gallery, London but at the Art Institute of Chicago through Sunday, September 22, 2013 for the blockbuster exhibition, “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity,” measures just 19.5 by 23.5 in./49.5 by 59.7 cm).]

In 1880, the unmarried Sydney died of enteric fever* – typhoid – at Hawstead, in Suffolk outside Bury St. Edmunds, two days after her thirty-first birthday.  Her younger brother, George Gery Milner Gibson, died unmarried in 1921 and bequeathed most of the family portraits to the Borough of St. Edmundsbury.  From 1923 to 1959, Sydney’s portrait was displayed in the town library, and later at the Art Gallery.  The painting was displayed at the Clock Museum, Angel Corner, in Bury St. Edmunds from 1989 to 1992, and then at the Manor House Museum until it was closed in 2006.

By September 2012, of the £6 million of art and artifacts in the collection of St. Edmundsbury Borough Council, the most valuable item was the portrait of Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson by James Tissot, which was valued at £1.8 million.  As of 2012, the painting, which cannot be sold, was to go on display at Moyse’s Hall Museum.  Local administrators tell me that this small museum is being reconfigured, and that there have been various delays.  Tissot’s portrait of Sydney Milner-Gibson is intended to form part of a display in the Edwardson Room first floor gallery, as part of an exhibit on Victorian costume, beginning in September 2013.

Also see James Tissot’s “Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson” (c. 1872).

I am grateful to the following individuals for providing information from which I compiled this article:

Alan Baxter, Heritage Manager and Dr. Keith Cunliffe, Collections Manager, West Suffolk Councils, U.K.

Adam Mead, Bristol, U.K.  Previously, scholars reported that Sydney Milner-Gibson died of tuberculosis*.  However, Adam, who blogs on the Milner-Gibson family at https://milnergibson.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/the-milner-gibsons/, sent me a copy of Sydney’s death certificate showing the official cause of her death was enteric fever.  

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2013.  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.

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.

Tissot in the U.S.: The Midwest

This summer, the U.S. Midwest is the place to enjoy some of James Tissot’s most popular oil paintings.  “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” is at the Art Institute of Chicago from Wednesday, June 26, 2013 through Sunday, September 22, 2013.  This blockbuster exhibition includes a Tissot painting from Cleveland as well as Tissot crowd-pleasers from Paris, London, Boston, Los Angeles and Toronto.  Click here to read about the Tissot works included.  Year around, public collections in Cincinnati, Toledo, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Minneapolis feature other Tissot favorites.

Tissot left his home in Nantes, a seaport on the west coast of France, at age 19 in 1855.  In Paris, the young artist started out renting a succession of student rooms in the Latin Quarter.   With his increasing success, he began a collection of Japanese art and objets, and by late 1867 or early 1868, he moved into a villa he had built on the prestigious avenue de l’Impératrice (now avenue Foch).  [Read more about Tissot’s villa here.]  His art collection had grown to include a Chinese shrine and hardwood table, along with a model of a Japanese ship, a Japanese black lacquered household altar, and dozens of embroidered silk kimonos, Japanese dolls, folding screens and porcelains.

By 1868, his studio, a showcase for his renowned collection of exotic art, became a landmark to see when touring Paris.  To read about how Tissot used his studio as a marketing tool to attract commissions, click here.

In 1869, Tissot assimilated pieces from his art collection into elegant compositions in three similar paintings featuring young women looking at Japanese objects in his villa’s lavish interiors filled with Oriental carpets, furniture, fabrics, carvings, vases and wall hangings.

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.”

Young Women looking at Japanese articles, 1869 (oil on canvas) by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902); 70.5x50.2 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 (oil on canvas) by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902); 27 3/4 x 19 3/4 in. (70.5×50.2 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

By the 1930s, the version above 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.

On the Thames, A Heron (c. 1871-72), by James Tissot. 36 1/2 x 23 3/4 in. (92.71 x 60.33 cm.). Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota, U.S. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

James Tissot fled Paris after the Franco-Prussian War and its bloody aftermath, the Commune.  [To read about Paris in June, 1871, click here.]  On the Thames, A Heron (c. 1871-1872) is one of Tissot’s first paintings after his arrival in London – and it was the first on record to be sold at auction in England.  Calculated to appeal to Victorian tastes, this Japanese-influenced scene was owned by wealthy Spanish banker José de Murrieta.  Murrieta tried to sell the painting on May
24, 1873 as On the Thames:  the frightened heron; priced at 570 guineas, it did not find a buyer.  His brother, Antonio de Murrieta, attempted and failed to sell it on June 15, 1873 for 260 guineas.  As The Heron (35 x 23 in./88.90 x 58.42 cm.), the painting was sold by Sotheby’s, New York in 1973 for $ 32,000 USD/£ 12,886 GBP.  On the Thames, A Heron was the gift of collector Mrs. Patrick Butler, by exchange in 1975, to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and is displayed in Gallery G357.  For an interactive view of it, click here. 

London Visitors (c. 1874), by James Tissot. 63 by 45 in./(160 by 114.2 cm.). Toledo Museum of Art, U.S. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

Tissot exhibited London Visitors (c. 1874) at the Royal Academy in 1874.  This scene on the portico of London’s National Gallery, with the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the background, was not well received by the critics, one of whom wrote, “London Visitors will not, we fear, add to M. Tissot’s reputation.”  This was partly due to Tissot’s foreign take on a familiar London sight – St. Martin-in-the-Fields is not even visible from the perspective Tissot presents – and partly due to the “immodesty” of the woman looking out at an implied male viewer, who has disposed of his cigar on the steps in the foreground in her presence.  Men would have understood the woman to be sexually available, and this was considered “French” rather than English, quite a distasteful picture for Tissot to present to the public.  The Times immediately evinced suspicion of the painting, referring to it when the 1874 Royal Academy exhibition opened in May as “another illustration of the thorough appropriation of English types and subjects by this clever French painter.”  “Clever” was not intended as a compliment.

Two weeks later, the reviewer for the Illustrated London News wrote, “But, though a very keen observer, M. Tissot, like most of our French critics, fails in sympathy and falls into vulgar exaggeration.  The peculiar types prevalent in his works – the lanky faces, crane necks, and falling shoulders – are not recognizable by us as English; they are, besides, always curiously cold and antipathetic.”  The critic also remarked on the picture’s “arctic frigidity.”  Another reviewer objected to the painting’s “vile colour and dirty atmosphere.”

In 1951, London Visitors was acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.  It was purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, the gift of Edward Drummond Libbey (1854 – 1925).  Libbey founded the Libbey Glass Company in Toledo in 1888 and the Toledo Museum of Art in 1901.  He served as the museum’s president from 1901 to 1925 and bequeathed to it his collection of Dutch and English art.

English: London Visitors, oil painting by Jame...

London Visitors (c. 1874), by James Tissot. 34 1/4 x 24 3/4 in. (87 x 62.87 cm).  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A smaller version of London Visitors is in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum, the 1888 gift of Milwaukee meat packer and philanthropist Frederick Layton (1827 – 1919).  This painting had been sold at Christie’s, London in 1887 for £ 230 and by the same auction house in June, 1888, to the prominent London art dealer Arthur Tooth, for £157 10 s.  In this version, also c. 1874, Tissot removed the cigar and shifted the woman’s gaze off to the right [i.e. the viewer’s right], as if to make amends for the offensive original version.

Seaside

Tissot exhibited July (Speciman of a Portrait), along with nine other paintings, at London’s Grosvenor Gallery – a sumptuous, invitation-only showcase for contemporary art in New Bond Street – in 1878, the year it was painted.

CT11 Kent Ramsgate Harbour James JJ Tissot PlaqueThe painting is one in a series representing months of the year, and the figure is modeled by Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882).  The setting for July was the Royal Albion Hotel near the shore of Viking Bay in Ramsgate, a seaside resort on the Kent coast, seventy-eight miles southeast of London.  At some point, another artist painted a frizzy red hairstyle (probably considered more up-to-date) on Kathleen Newton.  In 1980, the painting was donated to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio at the bequest of Noah L. Butkin.

 

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2013.  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.

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.