Monthly Archives: April 2014

James Tissot Goes to the Museum

James Tissot was only twenty-five when one of his oil paintings entered a public art collection. The Meeting of Faust and Marguerite attracted the attention of the Comte de Nieuwerkerke, Director-General of Museums, who purchased the painting in 1860 on behalf of the government for the Luxembourg Museum for 5,000 francs.

The Luxembourg was the first French museum to be opened to the public, in 1750, with about 125 paintings by Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Veronese, Titian, Poussin, Van Dyck and Rembrandt.  These works later were sent to the Louvre, and in 1818, the Musée du Luxembourg was designated a “museum for living artists” – a museum of contemporary art.  The work of David, Ingres, Delacroix and others was exhibited there.

This was a  tremendous honor for Tissot; he exhibited The Meeting of Faust and Marguerite in the Salon of 1861, where he won an honorable mention.  (In 1983, the painting was assigned to the Louvre, where it is displayed with Salon paintings.)

The next Tissot oil painting to enter a museum collection was the first in the United Kingdom. Can you guess what it was?

Bad News (The Parting, 1872), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 68.6 x 91.4 cm. National Museum Cardiff. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

William Menelaus (1818 – 1882) was a Scottish-born engineer, iron and steel manufacturer, and inventor. He earned a fortune at the Dowlais Ironworks in South Wales, and his only extravagance was his art collection, which was said to fill his home in Merthyr. He donated pieces to the Cardiff Free Library, then upon his death in 1882, bequeathed to it the remaining thirty-six paintings, valued at £10,000. His bequest, which included James Tissot’s Bad News (The Parting), painted in 1872, is now in the collection of the National Museum Cardiff. Bad News (The Parting) is displayed in Gallery 6, Level 4.

London Visitors (c. 1874), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 1/4 x 24 3/4 in. (87 x 62.87 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, U.S. (Photo credit: Wikipedia.org)

London Visitors (1874), by James Tissot. Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, U.S. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The first Tissot oil to enter a North American museum was the second version of London Visitors. The original version (at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio since 1951) was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1874. It was not well received by the critics, 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 distasteful.  As if to make amends, Tissot painted.a smaller version of London Visitors the same year, removing the cigar and shifting the woman’s gaze off to the right [i.e. the viewer’s right]. In 1888, this picture was gifted to the Milwaukee Art Museum by meat packer and philanthropist Frederick Layton (1827 – 1919). At that time, James Tissot was known in the United States as an illustrator of the Bible, so this was the first opportunity for the American public to see one of his scenes from modern life. The painting is currently on view.

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)

Also given to a public art collection during Tissot’s lifetime was The Bridesmaid (c. 1883-85), from his “La Femme à Paris (Women of Paris) series. Exhibited at the Arthur Tooth Gallery in London in 1886, The Bridesmaid 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.  It is now on display in Room Five.

The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.5 x 40.5 in. (72.4 x 102.8 cm). Guildhall Art Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

In 1902, coincidentally the year James Tissot died, two of his best-known paintings were bequeathed to the Guildhall Art Gallery, London. The Last Evening (1873) and Too Early (1873) were purchased from William Agnew (1825 – 1910), the most influential art dealer in London, by Charles Gassiot (1826 – 1902), a London wine merchant and art patron who lived in a mansion in Upper Tooting, Surrey. Gassiot bought them for £1,000 and £1,155, respectively, before they were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1873.  He and his wife Georgiana, a childless couple, donated a number of paintings, including The Last Evening and Too Early, to the Guildhall Art Gallery from 1895 to 1902.  Both pictures are currently on view.

Too Early (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 71 x 102 cm. Guildhall Art Gallery. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Upon his death, Tissot left a series of four oil paintings to the Louvre. These scenes from The Prodigal Son in Modern Life (1880) included Le depart (The Departure), En pays étranger (In Foreign Climes), Le Retour (The Return), and Le veau gras (The Fatted Calf). They entered the collection in 1904 and are assigned to the Musée d’Orsay but are not on view.

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

The next Tissot oil painting to enter a French collection was The Two Sisters (1863), which was exhibited at the Salon in 1864. It was sold from Tissot’s studio, a year after his death in 1902, to a collector (Albert Bichet) in whose name it was given to the Luxembourg Museum, in 1904. The Two Sisters entered the collection of the Louvre in 1929 and in 1982 was assigned to the Musée d’Orsay, where it is on view in Room 11.

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

Chichester Fortescue, later Baron Carlingford (1823 – 1898), was a politically ambitious 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), whose portrait Tissot also painted.  [Set in her boudoir, it was not considered a good likeness, and its whereabouts are unknown.]

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. 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.

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)

In 1907, Portrait of Mademoiselle L.L. (1864) was purchased from the sale of a private collection for the Luxembourg Museum. It was assigned to the Musée d’Orsay in 1978 and is on view in Room 11.

L’Ambitieuse (The Political Woman, 1883-1885), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 73 1/2 x 56 x 5 in. (186.69 x 142.24 x 12.7 cm). Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tissot’s L’Ambitieuse (1883-1885), or The Political Woman, was one of fifteen paintings in the “Femme à Paris” (Women of Paris) series.  L’Ambitieuse was owned by the American painter William Merritt Chase (1849 – 1916).  In 1909, Chase donated the painting to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.  It is not on view.

La rêveuse (Summer Evening, c. 1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34.9 x 60.3 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

In 1919, three of Tissot’s oil paintings were bequeathed to the French nation by a private collector, William Vaughan. La rêveuse (Summer Evening, c. 1876), Le Bal (Evening, 1878), and La soeur aînée (The Elder Sister, c. 1881) entered the Luxembourg and later were assigned to the Musée Orsay. Of these three pictures, only Le Bal is on display, in Room 11.

Each of these three paintings featured the same mysterious lady, Tissot’s mistress and muse, whose existence would not be realized until 1933 and whose name would remain unknown for a quarter-century after the public could see her image for the first time.

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

Related blog posts:

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

Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?

Kathleen Newton by James Tissot: eight auctioned oil paintings

 

©  2014 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.

 

More “Plagiarists”: Tissot’s friends Manet, Degas, Whistler & Others

James Tissot and his friends, including James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot, did not work in a vacuum.  In addition, creative personalities can be strong, and the public and the critics could be merciless.  Career success or failure sometimes led to rivalries, but competitive friendships inspired all the artists in their circle.

Gustave Courbet’s Woman with a Parrot, displayed prominently at the 1866 Salon jury, was a tremendous success with the public.  The 1867 Salon jury rejected Edouard Manet’s work, and all his entries also were rejected that year for the Paris International Exposition, which, like the Salon, was sponsored by the French government.  The International Exposition was a far bigger event than the Salon; it was held from April 1 to November 3 and included exhibitors from forty-one nations.  Courbet and Manet teamed up to present their work in an independent exhibition, building a large, temporary wooden pavilion across the street from one of the entrances to the International Exposition, at the Place d’Alma.  Manet showed fifty-six paintings, including his homage to Courbet’s Woman with a Parrot, called Young Lady in 1866.

Woman with a Parrot (1866), by Gustave Courbet. Oil on canvas, 51 x 77 in. (129.5 x 195.6 cm). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (Photo by Wikimedia.org)

Young Lady in 1866 (1866), by Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas; 72 7/8 x 50 5/8 in. (185.1 x 128.6 cm). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Manet’s student, Eva Gonzalès, not quite 21, made her Salon debut in 1870 with three paintings including Enfant de troupe, her take on Manet’s The Fife Player (rejected by the 1866 Salon jury).  Her picture was understood as an homage.

The Fife Player (1866), by Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

Enfant de troupe (Soldier Boy, 1870), by Eva Gonzalès. Oil on canvas, 51.2 by 38.6 in. (130 by 98 cm). Musée Gaston Rapin, Villeneuve-sur-Lot, France. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

But Manet, who struggled enormously to gain acceptance in the Paris art establishment, found himself accused of plagiarism rather than an homage in 1873.  Painter Alfred Stevens, enormously rich and successful, was overheard at the Salon in 1873 sniping at Manet for plagiarizing Le Bon Bock from Frans Hals’ The Merry Drinker (1628–1630).  Manet publicly rebuked Stevens, stopping short of a physical confrontation.  Le Bon Bock won an honorable mention.

The Merry Drinker (1628-30), by Frans Hals. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

 

Le Bon Bock (The Good Pint, 1873), by Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 37 1/4 by 32 13/16 in. (94.6 by 83.3 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Manet borrowed ideas from Old Masters, but Edgar Degas accused Manet of plagiarizing from him, complaining to a friend, “That Manet. As soon as I did dancers, he did them.  He always imitated.”  However, prominent biographer Jeffrey Meyers points out that Manet painted milliners and women bathing in a tub before Degas did.  Art historian Jean Sutherland Boggs noted that Degas’ The Steeplechase (1866) was significantly influenced by Manet’s The Dead Toreador (1864).  Phoebe Pool, another art historian, wrote, “A great deal of nonsense has been written about Manet’s plagiarism…Critics do not object to Degas or the young Picasso using the works of older artists, yet they deplore this practice in Manet.”

The Dead Toreador (1864), by Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 29 7/8 x 60 3/8 in. (75.9 x 153.3 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Scene from the Steeplechase: The Fallen Jockey (1866), by Edgar Degas. Oil on canvas, 70 7/8 x 59 13/16 in. (180 x 152 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

In September 1875, Eugene Manet found his brother at work on an extraordinary new picture.  He told his wife, Berthe Morisot, “Edouard has started a painting that is going to upset all the painters who think they own plein air and light-colored paintings.  Not a drop of black.  It seems Turner appeared to him in a dream.”  The picture, Laundry, showed a housewife happily doing the family laundry.  Later, Degas would be known for his depictions of laundresses, but they were workers paid to do other people’s drudgery.

Le Linge (Laundry, 1875), by Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 57 1/4 x 45 1/4 in. (145.4 x 114.9 cm). Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Laundresses Carrying Linen in Town (c. 1876-78), by Edgar Degas. Oil colors on paper mounted on canvas, 18 x 24 in. (46 x 61 cm). Private collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Degas’ The Absinthe Drinker (1875-76) was denounced at the 1876 Salon; Manet painted Plum Brandy the next year – but Manet also had painted The Absinthe Drinker in 1858-59.  Who copied whom?

The Absinthe Drinker (c. 1859), by Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 70.1 × 40.6 in. (178 × 103 cm). Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Absinthe Drinkers (1873), by Edgar Degas. Oil on canvas, 36.2 × 27 in. (92 × 68.5 cm). Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Plum Brandy (c. 1877), by Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 29 x 19 3/4 in. (73.6 x 50.2 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Meanwhile, James Abbott McNeill Whistler was afraid that Gustave Courbet would steal his idea for Wapping (1860-64).  In a letter to a friend, Whistler ecstatically described the “masterpiece” he was working on, adding, “Ssh! Don’t talk about it to Courbet!”

Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress (1659), by Diego Velázquez. Oil on canvas, 50 in × 42 in., 127 × 107 cm). Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander (1872-74), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery, London. (Wikipaintings.org)

But Whistler copied Dutch Old Masters (as in his Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, [Portrait of the Artist’s Mother], 1871), Velázquez (1599 – 1660) and, as Berthe Morisot pointed out, J.M.W. Turner (1775 – 1851):

In a letter to her sister Edma from London, while on her honeymoon with Eugène Manet in 1875, Berthe Morisot wrote: “I visited the National Gallery, of course. I saw many Turners (Whistler, whom we liked so much, imitates him a great deal).”

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Moonlight, a Study at Millbank (1797). Oil paint on mahogany, 314 x 403 mm. Tate Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

 

Nocturne: Blue and Gold–Southampton Water (1872), by James McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 29 15/16 in. (50.5 x 76 cm). Art Institute of Chicago. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Did Berthe Morisot ever borrow ideas from the artists in her circle?

In 1869, Manet painted Berthe Morisot with a Muff.  Almost a decade later, in 1878, James Tissot painted A Winter’s Walk.

A Winter’s Walk, by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

In 1879-80, Manet painted Isabelle Lemonnier with Muff.

Isabelle Leonnier with a Muff, by Edouard Manet. (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

In 1880, Morisot painted Winter (Woman with a Muff).

 

Winter (Woman with a Muff, 1880), by Berthe Morisot. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

These artists, all about the same age and with similar family backgrounds, were friends who lived and worked together.  Each absorbed the influence of the era and of their fellow painters to paint with a distinctive style, though their subject matter may at times have been identical.  They drew inspiration from one another but also competed with each other for critical notice, public attention – and the purses of patrons.

Related post:

Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?

©  2014 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?

Today is April Fool’s Day – and my birthday – so let’s have some fun.

On November 3, 1874, novelist Edmond de Goncourt (1822 – 1896) wrote in his journal, “Tissot, that plagiarist painter, has had the greatest success in England.”  In the spring of 1880 (two years after James Tissot refused to testify on his behalf during the infamous libel suit against art critic John Ruskin), James Abbott McNeill Whistler wrote from Venice to his sister-in-law in London, describing how busy he was after having produced dozens of beautiful pastels.  He believed they would create envy among other artists:  “Tissot I daresay will try his hands at once – and others too.”

Did Tissot borrow ideas and subject matter from other painters?  Absolutely.  Was he unusual in this?  Consider some evidence.

Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl (1862), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas, 84.5 in × 42.5 in. (215 cm × 108 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In 1862, under the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite painters in London, Whistler painted The White Girl.  Rejected at the Royal Academy of 1862 and the Paris Salon of 1863, The White Girl was a portrait of Whistler’s mistress, Joanna Hiffernan.  Combining the ambiguous mood of John Everett Millais’ paintings at the time with the “stunners” painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Whistler described the painting as “a woman in a beautiful white cambric dress, standing against a window which filters the light through a transparent white muslin curtain – but the figure receives a strong light from the right and therefore the picture, barring the red hair, is one gorgeous mass of brilliant white.”  The White Girl was accepted for the Salon des Refusés in 1863, and though it impressed a few art critics and many artists, it provoked hilarity from the 7,000 visitors who streamed through.  One critic reported, “The hangers must have thought her particularly ugly, for they have given her a sort of place of honor, before an opening through which all pass, so that nobody misses her…they always looked at each other and laughed.”

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

James Tissot admired The White Girl, and influenced by it and fashion plates popular in women’s magazines of the time, he painted Two Sisters in 1863.  It was exhibited at the Salon in 1864, and a prominent critic admired the woman on the right as “a model of elegance, nobility, and simplicity,” her pose in “irreproachable taste.”

Albert Moore (1841 – 1893) met and befriended Whistler in 1865, and his work became purely aesthetic under Whistler’s influence.

Azaleas (1868), by Albert Joseph Moore. Oil on canvas, 100.2 x 197.9 cm. Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland. (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896), whose Pre-Raphaelite paintings had been notably original, also imitated artists he admired. The azaleas in Millais’ 1868 portrait of his daughters, Sisters, were copied from Albert Moore’s 1868 Azaleas.

Sisters (1868), by John Everett Millais. Oil on canvas, 42½ x 42½ in. (108 x 108 cm.). (Photo: wikimedia.org)

 

Symphony in White, No. 3 (1865–1867), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas, 51.4 x 76.9 cm. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts Collection, University of Birmingham. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Millais had pronounced Whistler’s The White Girl (1862) “splendid,” and it and Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 2 (also known as The Little White Girl, 1864-65 – see below), and Symphony in White, No. 3 (1865-67) inspired the white muslin dresses in which Millais had his three daughters pose.

Hearts are Trumps (1872), by John Everett Millais. Oil on canvas. Tate Britain, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

The Ladies Waldegrave (1780), by Sir Joshua Reynolds. 143.00 x 168.30 cm. National Galleries Scotland. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Millais’ Hearts are Trumps (1872) was a triple-portrait challenge he undertook out of admiration for Sir Joshua Reynolds’ The Ladies Waldegrave (1780).

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863), by Édouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 208 by 264.5 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Tissot’s rebel friend, Edouard Manet, painted Le déjeuner sur l’herbe in 1863, suffering its rejection from the 1863 Paris Salon and the scandal it created at the Salon des Refusés that year.  Famously, Manet borrowed the subject from the Concert champêtre (by Titian, but attributed at the time to Giorgione).

The Pastoral Concert (c. 1509), by Titian. Oil on canvas. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In the spring of 1865, Claude Monet, inspired by Manet, began his own Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, a massive canvas that he abandoned in 1866 due to financial pressures.

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (1865-66), right fragment, Claude Monet. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

Tissot, too, painted a Déjeuner sur l’herbe, c. 1865-68, a depiction of a family which may have been his own, enjoying a picnic on the grounds of their château near Besançon, France.  This painting was not exhibited at the time, but Tissot later painted La Partie Carrée, using subject matter similar to Manet’s – though less controversial – which he exhibited at the Salon in 1870.  La Partie Carrée was praised both by art critics and the public.

La Partie Carrée (1870), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 47 x 57 in. (119.5 x 144.5 cm.) Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In the meantime, at the 1865 Salon, James Tissot exhibited Spring, which received some praise because of its similarities to John Everett Millais’ Apple Blossoms (Spring), exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1859.

Spring (Apple Blossoms), 1859, by John Everett Millais. Photo: Wikimedia.org

Spring (1865), by James Tissot. Photo: wikipaintings.org

Tissot has been accused of copying the formula for commercial success of his wealthy, older friend Alfred Stevens (1823 – 1906):  paint beautiful women in gorgeous interiors, wearing stunning fashions, often with a distinctive touch of japonisme.

Exotic Trinket (1865), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: wiki, cultured.com)

La dame en rose (1866), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Young Women looking at Japanese Objects (1869), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Young Women Looking at Japanese Articles (1869), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 27 3/4 x 19 3/4 in. (70.5 x 50.2 cm). (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

But if Tissot copied Stevens, Stevens copied Tissot as well, by depicting two young ladies rather than the single figure he usually painted.

The Japanese Mask (1877), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

Stevens also imitated Whistler.

Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (1864-65), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas, 30 in × 20 in. (76 cm × 51 cm). Tate Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

La Parisienne japonaise (1872), Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In 1864, Whistler had exhibited Wapping, featuring Jo Hiffernan as a dockside whore, at the Royal Academy; the Establishment had not been impressed.  Yet Wapping was purchased c. 1864/67 by Thomas DeKay Winans (1820-1878), a locomotive engineer and collector from Baltimore  who was one of Whistler’s first patrons.  Tissot exhibited The Last Evening (1873), with its similar jungle of ship’s masts, at the Royal Academy in 1873; it was snapped up even before the exhibition by wealthy London wine merchant Charles Gassiot (1826 – 1902) for £1,000.

Wapping (1860-1864), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas. 28 3/8 x 40 1/16 in. (72 x 101.8 cm.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.5 x 40.5 in. (72.4 x 102.8 cm.), Guildhall Art Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Whistler’s most famous painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (1871), known as Whistler’s Mother, was inspired by Dutch Old Masters portraits he had seen.

Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet (1657), by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Oil on canvas. 125.5 x 98.5 cm. Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd, Wales. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, also called Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1871), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas, 56.81 by 63.94 in. (144.3 by 162.5 cm.). Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

In 2009, a small, undated Tissot oil painting called Portrait d’une dame cousant près de la cheminée (Portrait of a lady sewing near the fireplace) was sold at auction for $ 5,295 USD/ £ 3,240 GBP (Premium).  Who copied whom?

Is it “inspiration” if a painter imitates a masterpiece of a long-dead artist, and “plagiarism” if he or she copies a living artist?

One of my college English literature professors, lecturing us on the academic Honor Code and plagiarism, defined originality as “not something no one has ever thought of before, but bearing the stamp of your own mind.”

I thought of this when I saw Phil Grabsky’s film, “Vermeer and Music:  The Art of Love and Leisure, from the National Gallery, London” on October 10, 2013.  In this film, Xavier Bray, Chief Curator at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, discussed Vermeer’s Lady Seated at a Virginal (1670-72), and said that he believed Vermeer definitely saw A Woman Playing a Clavichord by Gerrit Dou (1613 –1675).

A Woman Playing a Clavichord (1665), by Gerrit Dou. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

Lady Seated at a Virginal (1670-72), by Johannes Vermeer. Oil on canvas, 20.3 in × 17.9 in. (51.5 cm × 45.5 cm). National Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Bray said that it would have been easy for Vermeer to have taken a boat down to Leiden where Dou’s 1665 picture was exhibited – prior to beginning work on his image five years later.  Bray commented that what Vermeer brought to the concept that Dou pioneered – an intimate scene of a woman interrupted while making music – was to distill the scene down to its elemental serenity.  Vermeer is not considered a plagiarist; his work bore the stamp of his own original mind.

So did Tissot’s.  His success, and his obvious enjoyment of the material rewards it brought him during his lifetime, was just really annoying to many of his contemporaries, especially Edmond de Goncourt and Whistler.

Related blog post:

Riding Coattails: Tissot’s earliest success, 1860 – 1861

©  2014 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.