Monthly Archives: September 2013

Tissot in the U.K.: Northern England

In 1876, James Tissot began exhibiting his work in markets outside London, including the major art centers in Northern England, and today, six of his finest works can be found in museums there.

On the Thames (1876), by James Tissot.

On the Thames (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas; 28.5 x 46.5 in. (72.5 x 118 cm.). Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, Wakefield, UK. 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.

Tissot displayed The Thames at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1876, the year he painted it.  It was attacked by reviewers for The Times, the Athenaeum, the Spectator and the Graphic as depicting a subject they considered thoroughly unBritish – prostitution.  What else would the Victorians think of a painting of a rakish officer in a boat with two attractive women and a picnic hamper with three bottles of champagne?  The women were perceived as “undeniably Parisian ladies,” and the picture itself, “More French, shall we say, than English?”

As A Picnic on the Thames, the painting was owned by Kaye Knowles, Esq. (1835-1886), whose vast wealth came from shares in his family’s Lancashire coal mining business, Andrew Knowles and Sons.  He owned four oil paintings by James Tissot, including The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874, Musée Nationale du Château de Compiègne, France) and In the Conservatory (also known as Rivals, c. 1875-1876, Private Collection).  Knowles, a client of London art dealer Algernon Moses Marsden [1848-1920, see Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?], owned a large art collection, including works by Sir Edwin Landseer, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Rosa Bonheur, Giuseppe De Nittis, Atkinson Grimshaw, Édouard Detaille.

Later, as The Thames, the picture was owned by a Mrs. Newton – no, not that one! – who lived in London, neé  Stella Mary Pearce.  The painting, which measures 28.5 x 46.5 in. (72.5 x 118 cm.) was purchased from her by the Wakefield Corporation in September, 1938.

As On the Thames, this painting is on view at the Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, Wakefield, England  (in West Yorkshire).  It is the centerpiece of an exhibit called, “James Tissot: Painting the Victorian Woman”, which opened on March 28 and continues through November 3, 2013.

The Convalescent (c. 1876), 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" by Lucy Paquette © 2012.

The Convalescent (c. 1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas; 30.2 x 39.06 in. (76.7 x 99.2 cm.). Museums Sheffield. 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 Convalescent (1875/1876) also was exhibited at the 1876 Royal Academy exhibition.  It was offered for sale at Christies in 1881, but returned to the owner when the asking price was not received.  It later was owned by Andrew Knowles, from whom it was purchased by the Fine Art Society in January 1949  from Christies for £241 10sh.  Museums Sheffield purchased it from the Fine Art Society in June 1949, and it remains in the collection there.

The painting, which measures 30.2 x 39.06 in./76.7 x 99.2 cm., is set in Tissot’s garden at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, London.  The model is often assumed to be Kathleen Newton (1854–1882), the young divorcée who entered Tissot’s life in 1875-76, although Tissot scholar Michael Wentworth identified her as a different woman, a professional model Tissot painted in several pictures including Still on Top (c. 1873) and Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76).

The Convalescent has been exhibited in Japan (1988), Washington (1990), London (1990), Phoenix (1993) and Indianapolis (1993), and most recently, at the Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield (2005 – 2006).

The painting is currently on loan to The Hepworth Wakefield and is due back at Museums Sheffield in October 2013.  Unfortunately, there are no plans for The Convalescent to go back on permanent display.

Incidentally, a different version of the work was sold at Christies in 1879.  This may be the replica that measures 13 x 8 in./33.02 x 20.32 cm., sold by Christie’s, London in 1975 for $ 15,286 USD/£ 6,500 GBP [Hammer price] and in 1982 by Christie’s, New York for $ 36,000 USD/£ 21,368 GBP [Hammer price].

Portrait of Mrs Catherine Smith Gill and Two of her Children (1877), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas; 60.04 x 39.96 in. (152.5 x 101.5 cm.). Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, U.K.. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

One morning in 1979, as staff was arriving at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery, a man approached them saying he had a rare and valuable painting by French painter  James Tissot that he wished to sell them.  When they told the museum director of this claim, he reacted with disbelief and was inclined to send the man away.  The painting, worth £ 30,000, was Tissot’s portrait of Mrs. Catherine Smith Gill and Two of her Children (1877).  At 60.04 x 39.96 in./152.5 x 101.5 cm., it was one of the largest works the artist ever had produced.

Mrs. Gill’s husband, Mr. Chapple Gill (c.1833 – 1901/2), was the son of Robert Gill, a Liverpool cotton broker of Knotty Cross and R. & C. Gill; the son joined the business in 1857 and had risen to senior partner [by 1880, he became head of the firm].  He commissioned French painter Tissot, then living in London, to paint a portrait of his wife, Catherine Smith Carey (1847-1916), whom he had married on June 10, 1868 at Childwall.  She was the only child of Thomas Carey (1809 – c. 1875), a wealthy, retired estate agent.  Tissot’s portrait of Catherine Smith Gill shows her – heiress at age 30 – sitting in the drawing-room window of her mother’s home at Lower Lee, at Woolton near Liverpool, which was built by Catherine’s father.  Tissot lived at the red sandstone mansion for eight weeks while painting the portrait, in which he depicts Catherine with her two-year-old son Robert Carey and six-year-old daughter Helen; she was to have another boy and two more girls.  It is family lore that Tissot and Catherine developed “a mutual affinity,” though Kathleen Newton had been in his life (and resided at his St. John’s Wood home) for the past year or two.

The portrait was purchased, with the aid of contributions from the National Art Collections Fund and the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, from Berkeley Chapple Gill, grandson of Mrs. Gill – the son of the little boy in the painting – in 1979, and it remains on view at the Walker Art Gallery.  Click here for an interactive view of it.

Hush! (The Concert), 1875, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas; 29.02 x 44.17 in. (73.7 x 112.2 cm.). Manchester Art Gallery, U.K. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

The Manchester Art Gallery’s collection includes Hush! (The Concert), painted in 1875 and displayed at the Royal Academy exhibition at the height of Tissot’s success in London.  It depicts a crowded Kensington salon, hosted by Lord and Lady Coope, which features a performer believed to be Moravian violinst Wilma Neruda (1838—1911).  Acquired in 1933, Hush! measures 29.02 x 44.17 in. (73.7 x 112.2 cm). and is on display in the Balcony Gallery.

The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent), c. 1878, by James Tissot. Oil on panel; 14 ¼ x 8 11/16 in. (36.2 x 21.8 cm.) Manchester Art Gallery, U.K. (Photo: wikipaintings.org).

The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent), c. 1878), relies, as so many of Tissot’s paintings do, on the beauty of model Kathleen Newton.  A small picture, it measures only 14 ¼ x 8 11/16 in. (36.2 x 21.8 cm.).  Its asking price at the Dudley Gallery, London, in 1879 was £ 125.  The Manchester Art Gallery purchased it from the Leicester Galleries, London, in 1925.

The Bridesmaid (c. 1883-85), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 58 x 40 in. (147.3 x 101.6 cm.). Leeds City Art Gallery, U.K. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

The Bridesmaid (c. 1883-85), from Tissot’s “La Femme à Paris series, was exhibited at the
Arthur Tooth Gallery in London in 1886.  It sold at Christie’s in 1889 for £69.5s.0d and was given to the Leeds City Art Gallery by R.R. King in 1897.  Paintings in the series were large, and this one, now on display in Room Five, measures 58 x 40 in. (147.3 x 101.6 cm.).  According to an 1885 New York Times article, Tissot intended for the vignettes of his “La Femme à Paris” series to be engraved and illustrated by stories, each to be written by a different author.  A letter, now in the Boston Public Library’s Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts, from Tissot’s old friend, French novelist Alphonse Daudet (1840 – 1897) to French poet and novelist François Coppée (1842 – 1908) asks him to contribute a story based on The Bridesmaid.  

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

Natalie Patel, Curatorial Intern, Museums Sheffield

Alex Patterson, Assistant Curator (Fine Art), National Museums Liverpool

Theodore Wilkins, Assistant Curator Fine Art, Leeds Art Gallery

© 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.

Advertisements

Tissot in the U.S.: New England

New England boasts five major works by James Tissot, painted between 1872 and 1885.

In the mid- to late 1860s, while Tissot enjoyed ever-increasing success and fame, France was enjoying its final years of giddy prosperity under the Second Empire.  Paris had been transformed by Napoleon III’s majestic and “revolution-proof” modernizations.  The economy was booming as overcrowded medieval buildings were demolished, hills were leveled, bridges were constructed, and narrow, tangled streets were replaced with straight, broad tree-lined avenues extending to the western suburbs which had been cabbage fields.

The population of Paris had almost doubled since 1850 and was nearing two million.  Railways now branched out from the city, reaching into the outlying regions and making it an industrial center.  Trains also encircled the city, so that the main railroad stations were conveniently connected within the old fortified wall around the capital.  Parisians flaunted their wealth, and conspicuous consumption was the order of the day.  With 15,000 gaslights glittering on the streets, Paris became “The City of Light.”  [See  Paris c. 1865: The Giddy Life of Second Empire France]

Meanwhile, in London, Victorian engineers – led by John Everett Millais’ friend, the self-made millionaire John Fowler (1817 – 1898)   – constructed the first underground railway in the world.  The Metropolitan Railway (now the Metropolitan Line) – a stretch of four miles between Bishop’s Road (now Paddington) and Farringdon – opened on January 10, 1863.  At the Paddington end there was a connection to the Great Western Railway.  In 1864, the line was extended to Hammersmith Station, which was operated jointly by the Metropolitan Railway and the Great Western.  The line was extended east to Moorgate in 1865, and in the other direction, to South Kensington in 1868.  On Christmas Eve 1868, the District Railway’s first section opened between South Kensington and Westminster Bridge.  This line was extended to Blackfriars in 1870 and to Mansion House in 1871 (completing the southern section of the Circle Line).  St. John’s Wood Railway (referred to as “the Wood Line,” “the branch,” or “the extension”), running northward from Baker Street to St. John’s Wood Road and Swiss Cottage, opened in 1868.  The engines were steam-operated; the first “tube” railway, cable-operated and running between Tower Hill and Bermondsey, opened in 1870.  All the locomotives built from 1871 were painted a smart olive green with polished brass dome covers and were lit by gas.  The passenger coaches were divided into first, second and third class compartments; first-class cars were roomy and fitted with carpets, mirrors and well-upholstered seats.

Gentleman in a Railway Carriage (1872), by James Tissot. 24 15/16 by 16 15/16 in. (63.30 by 43.00 cm). The Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Lucy Paquette at the Worcester Art Museum  (Photo by R.R. Zuercher)

At the Worcester Art Museum (Photo by R.R. Zuercher)

In late May or early June, 1871, James Tissot fled Paris in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and the bloody Commune.

He established himself in the competitive London art market, and by March 1872 (and until 1873), he lived at 73 Springfield Road in St. John’s Wood, conveniently near the new Underground Railway station there.

His 1872 image of the modern commuter, Gentleman in a Railway Carriage [24 15/16 by 16 15/16 in. (63.30 by 43.00 cm)], was purchased for the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts by the Alexander and Caroline Murdock de Witt Fund nearly one hundred years later, in 1965, and is currently on view, though the original gilt frame with pilasters and arched top was replaced.

IMG_4346, good corner detail

Frame detail, Gentleman in a Railway Carriage, by James Tissot. (Photo: Lucy Paquette)

Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76), by James Tissot. 46 by 30 in. (118.4 by 76.2 cm). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

In 1873, James Tissot bought the lease on a medium-sized, two-storey Queen Anne-style villa, built of red brick with white Portland stone dressing, at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood.  In 1875, he built an extension with a studio and conservatory that doubled the size of the house.  Outside the conservatory (note the panes of glass in the upper left corner), Tissot painted Chrysanthemums.  He displayed it along with nine other canvases at the first exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery in New Bond Street in 1877.  The Grosvenor was an alternative to the conservative Royal Academy of Art, which never did extend membership to Tissot.

Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76) was purchased by British cotton magnate, MP and contemporary art collector Edward Hermon (1822 – 1881) by 1877.  Hermon eventually owned over 70 paintings, including works by J.M.W. Turner, Edwin Landseer, and John Everett Millais, which he displayed in the picture gallery of his magnificent French Gothic estate, Wyfold Court, built at Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire between 1872 and 1878.  In 1882, after Hermon’s death, Chrysanthemums was sold at Christie’s, London to prominent art dealer Arthur Tooth for £ 273.

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 it was sold at 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, Tissot’s painting 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.

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

The Fan (1875) simultaneously demonstrates Tissot’s facility depicting plant life, fashion, female beauty and japonisme.  It 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 1963, 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.”

Charles Jerdein sold The Fan to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut shortly after he purchased it in 1982; the Wadsworth was able to acquire it due to the generosity of The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund.

I made a pilgrimage to the Wadsworth to see this elegant painting on October 3 and was very disappointed to learn that, despite my efforts to confirm the painting was on display, it had been on loan for some time:  the Wadsworth is renovating its permanent collection galleries.  From March 23 to September 8, 2013, The Fan had been 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 show sold more than 50,000 tickets.  Next, The Fan 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.

Women of Paris: The Circus Lover (also known as Amateur Circus, 1885), by James Tissot. 58 by 40 in. (147.3 by 101.6 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Immediately after Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton, died in London of tuberculosis in November, 1882, Tissot abandoned his St. John’s Wood home and moved back to Paris, which he had left following the bloody aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.  Having been absent from Paris for over eleven years, Tissot exerted himself to re-establish his reputation there with a series of fifteen large-scale paintings called “La Femme à Paris” (Women of Paris).  He painted these large works between 1883 and 1885, illustrating the fashionable parisienne in various incarnations using brighter, modern colors than he had in his previous work.

Women of Paris: The Circus Lover (1885) is one in this series.  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; he was said to have “the biceps of Hercules.”  People of beauty and fashion attended the circus and mingled with the performers during the interval.

The Circus Lover (1885) was sold by Gerald M. Fitzgerald at Christie’s, London in mid-1957 to the Marlborough Fine Art Gallery for $ 3,219 USD/£ 1,150 GBP.  In early 1958, The Circus Lover was purchased from the Marlborough Fine Art by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts for $ 5,000 as Amateur Circus.

Women of Paris:  The Circus Lover is included in the Art Institute of Chicago’s blockbuster exhibition, “Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity”, which runs through Sunday, September 29.

Another painting in Tissot’s “La Femme à Paris” is in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum in Providence.

The Ladies of the Chariots (c. 1883-85), by James Tissot. 57 ½ by 39 5/8 in. (146 by 100.65 cm), Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Ladies of the Chariots (Ces dames des chars), also called The Circus, was exhibited in Paris in 1885 and in London in 1886.  It is the second in the “La Femme à Paris” series, painted sometime before mid-1884.

The women are performers at the Hippodrome de l’Alma, built in 1877 at the corner of avenues Josephine and Alma.  Up to eight thousand spectators could view races around the thirteen-meter track, circus animals whose cages were beneath the ring, and special effects such as mist and fireworks in the grand arena with a sliding roof that could be opened to the sky.  Electric lighting made evening performances possible, such as the chariot race pictured, with charioteers known as Amazons wearing glittering costumes.  Their diadems are similar to the crown on Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s new statue, Liberty Illuminating the World, which was presented to the United States in a ceremony in Paris on July 4, 1884; it soon would be installed in New York Harbor.

Tissot’s “La Femme à Paris” series was poorly received when it was exhibited in 1885 at the Sedelmeyer Gallery in Paris and in 1886 at the Arthur Tooth Gallery in London.  A critic for La Vie Parisienne complained that the women in the series were “always the same Englishwoman” – some say the faces all resembled Kathleen Newton.  Another reviewer dismissed Tissot’s modern urban women as “gracious puppets.”  Some found both the poses and compositions awkward and disconcerting.

Lucy 2 (2)According to an 1885 New York Times article, Tissot intended for the vignettes of his “La Femme à Paris” series to be engraved and illustrated by stories, each to be written by a different author.  The Ladies of the Chariots was assigned to French poet and writer Théodore de Banville (1823 – 1891), but no such text by him exists.  Only the first five of Tissot’s series were etched, among them The Ladies of the Chariots.  The project ended in 1886 with Tissot’s ambition to illustrate the Bible.  He never painted from modern life again.

The Ladies of the Chariots, which measures 57 ½ by 39 5/8 in. (146 by 100.65 cm), was sold by Julius H. Weitzner (1896 – 1986), a leading dealer in Old Master paintings in New York and London, to Walter Lowry, who gifted it to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1958.

Now hanging in the RISD museum director’s office, The Ladies of the Chariots will be the centerpiece of an exhibition on the circus scheduled to open in August 2014.

(Photo by Lucy Paquette)

The Dance of Death (1860), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 14 5/8 by 48 3/16 by 1 1/2 in. (37.1 x 122.4 x 3.8 cm). Rhode Island School of Design Museum. (Photo by Lucy Paquette)

LucyConcert1, by Rick

In search of Tissot’s “The Dance of Death” in the RISD Museum’s Grand Gallery, October 6, 2013. (Photo by R.R. Zuercher)

The RISD Museum collection includes three other oil paintings by James Tissot, one of which is on view to the public.  The Dance of Death (1860) is one of Tissot’s earliest paintings, a medieval dance of death exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1861 as Voie des fleurs, voie des pleurs (Path of Flowers, Way of Tears).  Tissot offered this to a collector at what he considered a low price of 5,000 francs.  In a private collection in Philadelphia until it was purchased from Julius Weitzner by the RISD in 1954, it measures 14 5/8 by 48 3/16 by 1 1/2 in. (37.1 by 122.4 by 3.8 cm).  It is on display on the West Wall of the Grand Gallery.  Vincent van Gogh was familiar with this painting, as he mentioned it in an 1883 letter to his younger brother Theo, an art dealer.

In the collection but not on public display are Tissot’s The Two Friends (c. 1881) and In the Louvre (c. 1883-85).

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

Teresa O’Toole, Curatorial Coordinator, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Edward G. Russo, Head Registrar, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut

Maureen O’Brien, Curator of Painting and Sculpture and Alison Chang, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence

Related posts:

Paris, June 1871

London, June 1871

Tissot in the Conservatory

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

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “The Ladies of the Chariots”

© 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.

James Tissot’s house at St. John’s Wood, London

Kathleen Newton In An Armchair

Kathleen Newton in an Armchair, by James Tissot   (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Kelly Newton, died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882 and was buried in plot 2903A (register no. 043971) in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, North West London (west of Regent’s Park).  [See James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death.]

After her funeral on November 14, Tissot returned to Paris.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema.  Photo: alma-tadema.com

Tissot had been friends with Dutch-born painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912) since 1859, when they met as students in Antwerp.  Reunited in London, where Alma-Tadema now lived on the north side of the Regent’s Park with his young wife, Laura Epps (1852 – 1909),  the two painters had a falling out in the mid-1870s.  Through an agent, Alma-Tadema purchased James Tissot’s house at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road in St. John’s Wood by 1883, but he could not move in until he sold his home, Townshend House.  After a two-year wait, Lawrence Alma-Tadema moved into Tissot’s former home on July 17, 1885, and began extensive remodeling.  He enlarged and modified Tissot’s Queen Anne villa into an Italianate mansion appropriate for his popular (and expensive) paintings of ancient Rome.  Alma-Tadema enhanced the garden and colonnaded pool that Tissot had built with huge classical urns and fountains splashing water over exotic fish.  He built a Dutch-style studio for Laura, who also painted, and a three-story studio for himself, capped with a semi-circular dome covered in aluminum, which gave a silvery tone to his paintings.

In My Studio (1893), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Photo: wikipaintings

Alma-Tadema painted and renovated his new home while his wife and two daughters lived in Windsor, in the home of a friend who was travelling abroad.  His décor included a Japanese room, a Chinese room, and an Arabic room.

In 1886, he spent so much of his time supervising work on the house that he only completed three paintings.  His grand home was written up by journalists, impressed by his copper-covered entrance, Mexican onyx windows, and a brass stairway (taken for gold by some visitors) leading to his studio.  The Pall Mall Gazette called his home “The Palace of the Beautiful.”

His family finally moved in on November 17, 1886, and Alma-Tadema and his wife hosted Monday afternoon open houses and  lavish Tuesday evening dinners and concerts for friends such as the Prince and Princess of Wales, the composer Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893), French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917), novelist Henry James (1843 – 1916), French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844 – 1923), internationally-acclaimed portrait painter John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925), Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Paderewski (1860 –1941), Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873 – 1921) and Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965).

James Tissot owned the house at Grove End Road only from 1873 to 1882, while Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, a Royal Academician, owned it for nearly thirty years, from 1883 until 1912.  The house was converted to apartments in the 1920s and fell into disrepair.  During World War II, it was occupied by the Army, then bombed and damaged by fire.  Tissot’s cast iron colonnade was torn down in 1947 and replaced with garages.  The house was later converted into eleven flats, again fell into disrepair, and was listed on English Heritage’s “at risk” register.  The Savage family bought it in the mid-1950s and restored it to a single dwelling in 2003 – with an investment of £5 million GBP.

Photo: Flickr

A Grade II listed building since 1987, 44, Grove End Road went on the market in 2006 for £17 million GBP, the same price paid somewhat earlier for a vacant half-acre of land on nearby Avenue Road.

[Grade II listed buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest; a listed building may not be demolished, extended, or altered without special permission from the local planning authority.]

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema - Blue Plaque - Londo...

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – Blue Plaque – London, England (Photo credit: rchappo2002)

When the house went up for sale, The Sunday Times [London] reported:

“It is spread over four floors, relatively few for a property of this size, and the ground and first floors are a sprawling 5,000 square feet per floor.  There are seven bedroom suites (with space for en-suite bathrooms and dressing rooms); a three storey-high artist’s studio with enormous windows; five large reception rooms (the main one leading to a conservatory); billiard room; security room; staff living quarters; a kitchen; countless storage rooms and a lift.  All the main reception rooms are on the ground floor.  All up, it’s 16,000 square feet and, with the garden, measures 0.6 of an acre.”

44, Grove End Road, London on August 1, 2008. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

Though bathrooms and a kitchen were needed, at an estimated cost of £3 to 4 million GBP, a buyer was found.  44, Grove End Road is now the address of a charitable organization, established in 2006, that works in the U.K. and the Arab world, particularly in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

Coincidental to the 2006 sale of James Tissot’s former home was the 2006 sale of Preparing for the Gala (c. 1874).  Painted in Tissot’s garden in St. John’s Wood.  Preparing for the gala, which was sold by Sotheby’s, New York in May, 1996 for $1,650,000/£ 1,090,188, was sold by Christie’s, London in 2006 for $ 2,763,150/£ 1,500,000.

Related posts:  

Tissot in the Conservatory

James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death

A visit to James Tissot’s house & Kathleen Newton’s grave

© 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.