Monthly Archives: August 2014

James Tissot’s popularity boom in the 1980s

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.

Victorian art, which included the work of James Tissot, was rediscovered in the 1960s and quickly gained popularity in the 1970s – just in time for the Thatcher years, 1979 – 1990.  Sydney Morning Herald columnist John McDonald wrote, “During that decade [the 1980s]…the new rich hastened to acquire all the trappings of wealth, and grand Victorian paintings were once again on the menu.”

But Victorian paintings weren’t popular only in the United Kingdom.  American publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes (1919 – 1990), who with his college-age son, Kip, began collecting Victorian paintings in 1969, exhibited a portion of his collection in 1981:  “32 Victorian Paintings from the Forbes Magazine Collection” at The Fine Art Society, Glasgow.  The show included Tissot’s “Good-bye” – On the Mersey, which Malcolm Forbes had purchased at Christie’s, London, in 1970.  ”The 80’s were a decade when businessmen were celebrities, and Malcolm fit into that well,” a colleague later observed.

Le banc de jardin/The Garden Bench (1882), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 99.1 by 142.2 cm. Private collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

American millionaire Frederick Koch (b. 1933) also began collecting Victorian paintings in the 1980s.  One of four brothers and heirs to Koch Industries, the family oil conglomerate, Frederick sold his stake to two of his brothers for over $700 million in 1983.  The Yale Drama graduate funded almost £ 2 million toward the full refurbishment of Shakespeare’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in the 1980s, and he began collecting rare books, opera manuscripts, and fine art.

James Tissot’s Le banc de jardin/The Garden Bench (c. 1882) set an auction price record in 1983, when Fred Koch paid $ 803,660/£ 520,000 for it at Christie’s, London.  This was a favorite image of Tissot’s, depicting his happy half-dozen years with his mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882), and her children in his garden; the artist kept it all his life.

Koch built a superb collection of Victorian paintings, which he intended for a museum in the heart of London by 1986.  But he was refused permission by Westminster Council and English Heritage to turn historic St. John’s Lodge in Regent’s Park into a museum.  He put the paintings, including Tissot’s L’Orpheline, in storage.  

American oil executive and arts patron Charles B. Wrightsman (1895 – 1986), who used to entertain U.S. President John F. Kennedy at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, purchased Tissot’s Spring Morning (Matinée de printemps, c. 1875) at Sotheby’s, Belgravia for $ 89,972/£ 40,000 in 1981.  Later that year, Mr. Wrightsman and his wife, Jayne (b. 1919) purchased In the Conservatory (The Rivals) from the Richard Green Gallery, London.  In 1983, Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol (1915 – 1985), sold Tissot’s En plein soleil (c. 1881) to Stair Sainty Gallery, London, where it was purchased that year by the Wrightsmans.  Upon Mr. Wrightsman’s death in 1986, the pictures became the sole property of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman.

In the spring of 1984, London’s Tate Gallery held “The Pre-Raphaelites,” the first comprehensive exhibition of their work.  It turned Australian businessman John Schaeffer on to Victorian art.  “It really opened my eyes,” he said.  In the decades that followed, Schaeffer has continued to build his collection.  “I have traditional tastes…and love narrative,” he has said. “I like beautiful things, and I don’t like modern or contemporary art.”  Along with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Schaeffer is recognized as one of the world’s foremost collectors of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Lucy in London, 1984 (2)

Entranced by the Pre-Raphaelites in London, 1984.

As an undergraduate, studying art history in London, I was mesmerized by the Tate’s Pre-Raphaelite exhibition and spent a great deal of time in the galleries.  In fact, I completely missed The Barbican Art Gallery’s major exhibition, “James Tissot, 1836-1902” that year (the exhibition, curated by Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz, included one hundred eighty-five works and travelled from London to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris).

Four years later, in 1988, the Isetan Museum of Art in Tokyo, held James Tissot.

Though Tissot’s oil paintings were worth a great deal on the art market, five more entered public collections in the 1980s – all in the United States – though one was deaccessioned in this decade.

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

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.  It is one in a series representing months of the year, and the figure is modeled by Kathleen Newton.  At some point, another artist painted a frizzy red hairstyle (probably considered more up-to-date) on Mrs. Newton.  In 1980, the painting was donated to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio at the bequest of Noah L. Butkin.  It currently is on view in Gallery 220.

The Artists’ Ladies (1885), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 57 1/2 by 40 in. (146.1 by 101.6 cm). The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Shortly after Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis in 1882, James Tissot left London and returned to Paris.  During his eleven years in London, he had declined Edgar Degas’ invitation to show his work with the artists who became known as the Impressionists.  Making his comeback in Paris in 1885, Tissot displayed a set of fifteen paintings at the Galerie Sedelmeyer called La Femme à Paris (The Parisian Woman). 

One of them, The Artists’ Wives (also called The Artists’ Ladies, 1885) depicts a gathering of artists and their wives on Varnishing Day, the evening before the official opening of the Salon, the annual art exhibition in Paris at the Palais de l’Industrie.

By 1981, the painting was with M. Knoedler and Co. in New York.  It was a gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., and The Grandy Fund, Landmark Communications Fund, and “An Affair to Remember” to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1981.  It is on view.

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: 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 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.”

Shortly after he purchased it, Jerdein sold The Fan to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, which was able to acquire it due to the generosity of The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund.  In 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 was on display at the Denver Art Museum’s exhibition, “Court to Café: Three Centuries of French Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum,” during the winter of 2013 – 2014.  The painting is not currently on display at the Wadsworth.

Study for “Mrs. Newton with a Child by a Pool” (c. 1877-78), by James Tissot. Oil on mahogancy panel, 12 ¾ by 16 ¾ in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), Richmond, Virginia. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Study for “Mrs. Newton with a Child by a Pool” (c. 1877-78) depicts Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton in the garden of Tissot’s home in St. John’s Wood, London.  This lively oil sketch was given to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, Virginia by the American collectors and philanthropists Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon in 1983.  It usually is on view, but the gallery it is in is closed for repairs through the next few months.

CIN408385

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

Tissot had left his home in Nantes, a seaport on the west coast of France, at age 19 before his birthday in 1856.  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.]

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.

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.

One public collection, also in the U.S., de-accessioned a Tissot oil in this decade.  The Newark Museum, in Newark, New Jersey, sold Sur la Tamise (Return from Henley), which it had received from a donor in 1926.  To benefit the museum’s acquisition fund, the picture was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1985 for $ 370,000/£ 293,860.

Scholars enhanced interest in Tissot’s life and work during the 1980s.  In 1982, Tissot scholar Willard E. Misfeldt (b. 1930) published The Albums of James Tissot, a partial record of Tissot’s work from available photograph albums that the artist maintained.  The catalogue from the Barbican’s 1984 Tissot exhibition, edited by curator Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz, included eight scholarly essays on Tissot and varying aspects of his art as well as images of and commentary on the works displayed.  Michael Wentworth (1938 – 2002), who had established himself as the world’s leading Tissot scholar by 1978, published the most comprehensive biography of Tissot to date, James Tissot, in 1984.  Two years later, Victorian art expert Christopher Wood (1941 – 2009), published Tissot:  The Life and Work of Jacques Joseph Tissot, 1836-1902.

The Return from the Boating Trip (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, oil on panel, 24 by 17 in. (60.96 by 43.18 cm). Private Collection. Courtesy http://www.jamestissot.org

Dozens of Tissot oils changed hands during from 1980-89:

The Return from the Boating Trip (1873) was sold at Christie’s, London in 1982 for $ 31,852/£ 20,000.

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. Oil on canvas, 21 by 15 in. (53.34 by 38.10 cm). 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) 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.

Algernon Moses Marsden (1877), by James Tissot. 19 by 29 in./48.26 by 73.66 cm. Private collection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tissot’s 1877 Portrait of Algernon Moses Marsden, which, was sold by Sotheby’s, London in 1971 for $4,838/£2,000, was sold by Christie’s, London for $65,677/£45,000 in 1983.  [See Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?]

The Dreamer, by James Tissot. Private Collection. Courtesy http://www.jamestissot.org

James Tissot painted Kathleen Newton in the study above [called The Dreamer] in 1878, selling it for £206 as Rêverie at the Dudley Gallery in London. In the 1920s, a man bought it “for a few pounds.”  In 1984, the man’s daughter brought the picture to a valuation day at Woodbridge Community Hall in Suffolk, England.  She had no idea what it was, but said, “It has been on the wall for as long as I can remember.  My dad always used to poke around the sale rooms and this just came home.  I can’t remember when.  The story always was that he bought it because it reminded him of my mother, they both had the same auburn colored hair.  Nobody knew anything about it in the family.  We had it re-framed, and while it was at the framer’s somebody offered us £600 for it and so we thought we should get it looked at professionally.”  A Sotheby’s representative at the valuation day said, “I remember turning round to say something to my secretary and when I turned back again this gentleman had put the picture down on the table in front of me.  I remember taking one look at it and thinking to myself, “My God, a Tissot.”

The 1878 oil study, measuring 11 by 17 in. (27.94 by 43.18 cm), was sold by Sotheby’s, London in 1984 as Rêverie for $ 38,678/£ 32,000.

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

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

 

Related posts:

James Tissot in the era of Abstract Expressionism

James Tissot and the Revival of Victorian Art in the 1960s

If only we’d bought James Tissot’s paintings in the 1970s!

©  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.

If only we’d bought James Tissot’s paintings in the 1970s!

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.

By 1970, the revival of interest in the Victorians and their art had been under way for only a decade, and many of those most closely involved with it were quite young. 

In 1971, Sotheby’s of London introduced a new division, Sotheby’s Belgravia, devoted exclusively to the sale of Victorian art.  Peter Nahum (b. 1947), who began his career at Sotheby’s in 1966, initiated the new division from the age of 24.  [A leading expert in Pre-Raphaelite paintings, Nahum left Sotheby’s in 1984 to open The Leicester Galleries, in St. James’s, London, and he now works independently, advising major private collections and museums worldwide.]

Christopher Wood (1941 – 2009), who joined Christie’s immediately on coming down from Cambridge in 1963, was appointed a director in the European and British Nineteenth-Century Paintings Department by age 27.  The first separate Victorian art sale was in July 1968.  Wood published Dictionary of Victorian Painters in 1971, when he was 30.

Scholarly studies on James Tissot in this decade contributed greatly to what we know about him today.

Willard Erwin Misfeldt (b. 1930) incorporated a significant amount of new information about the artist in his Ph.D. dissertation, “James Jacques Tissot: A Bio-critical Study,” Washington University, 1971.  Dr. Misfeldt, a professor of Art History at Bowling Green State University in Ohio from 1967 to 2001, was the first scholar to visit the Château de Buillon in Besançon, France, the family home where the artist had lived prior to his death in 1902.

Michael Justin Wentworth (1938 – 2002) was born in Detroit, Michigan.  He purchased his first prints by James Tissot in 1957, and he received his B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1962 and his M.F.A. there in 1964.   Wentworth gained a reputation as an authority on Tissot by contributing to “James Jacques Joseph Tissot, 1836-1902: A Retrospective Exhibition” at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, and the Art Gallery of Toronto, in 1968.  From 1968 to 1969 he was Assistant Director at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts, and from 1971 to 1974 he served as Director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.  In 1976, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University.  His dissertation, “James Tissot: A Critical Study of His Life and Work, Together with a Catalogue Raisonné of His Prints,” served as the basis for James Tissot: Catalogue Raisonné of His Prints, published by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) in 1978.  The release of the catalogue was accompanied by an exhibition of the same name at the MIA.  Wentworth, at 40, now was established as the world’s leading Tissot scholar.

“Good bye” – On the Mersey, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 33 by 21 in. (83.82 by 53.34 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Meanwhile, Princeton student Christopher (Kip) Forbes, with his father Malcolm Forbes (1919 – 1990) of the American business magazine publishing dynasty, began amassing a large collection of Victorian art in 1969.

Kip wrote that by early 1970, when he was 20, “we were buying at a fairly dizzying clip,” and it was his father who purchased several “must have” paintings at Christie’s in 1970, including James Tissot’s ‘Good bye’ – On the Mersey, at prices which far exceeded their agreed-upon limits.  Kip prepared the catalogue of his growing collection of Victorian paintings as his senior thesis for the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton.  He had collected sixty-nine paintings by 1975, saying, “I like pictures where I don’t need a psychoanalyst to tell me about what’s in it.”  The Forbes Collection, which eventually included 361 works by Holman Hunt, Millais and Rossetti, as well as G.F. Watts, Albert Moore and James Tissot, was displayed at Old Battersea House, the Forbes’ London home, a Queen Anne mansion overlooking the Thames.  The collection was open to group tours, and selections from it were exhibited in venues including Tokyo, Mexico City, and Boston.

CH34949

The Bunch of Lilacs, by James Tissot.

Kip Forbes found that in the early 1970s, the greatest Pre-Raphaelite painting or work by Frederic, Lord Leighton, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Albert Moore or James Tissot could be bought for $15,000.  In fact, in 1975, Tissot’s gorgeous The Bunch of Lilacs (c. 1875) was sold at Christie’s, London for $15,249/£ 7,000.  In 1976, Tissot’s Faust and Marguerite in the Garden (1861) sold at Christie’s, London for $ 10,123/£ 5,000.

Forbes soon had a few competitors, including the billionaire American playboy Huntington Hartford (1911 – 2008), an heir to the A&P supermarket fortune, as well as Americans buyers Edmund and Suzanne McCormick, and a Canadian couple, Joey and Toby Tanenbaum.

La Mondaine (The Woman of Fashion), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 58 by 40 in. (147.32 by 101.60 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org) In 1993, La Mondaine was sold at Sotheby’s, New York for $ 800,000 USD/£ 553,824 GBP.

Joey Tanenbaum (born 1932), the son of Polish immigrants who made their fortune in steel fabrication, is Chairman and CEO of Jay-M Enterprises Ltd. and Jay-M Holdings (Toronto, Ontario) and has built his fortune through real estate and hydroelectric power.  He and his wife, Toby, are among the top five collectors in Canada, and they are major supporters of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Canadian Opera Company, the AGO, and the Royal Ontario Museum.

www-jamestissot-org, Study-For-'Le-Sphinx'-(Woman-In-An-Interior)

Study for “Le Sphinx,” by James Tissot. Private Collection. Courtesy http://www.jamestissot.org

In the 1970s, when appreciation for Victorian painting was just beginning to grow, the Tanenbaums made a hobby of collecting rediscovered masterpieces of English and French academic painting, and it became nearly a full-time effort.  Among the Tanenbaums’ early purchases were pictures from James Tissot’s La Femme à Paris (The Parisian Woman) series, fifteen large-scale pictures painted in Paris between 1883 and 1885.  They portrayed the fashionable parisienne in various incarnations using brighter, modern colors than Tissot had used in his previous work.

The Tanenbaums bought La Mondaine (The Woman of Fashion) in 1970, Study for Le Sphinx (Woman in Interior) in 1973, and Sans Dot (Without Dowry) in 1975, all from the Herman Shickman Gallery in New York.  In 1978, The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa held “The Other Nineteenth Century:  Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Tanenbaum.”

Sans dot (Without Dowry, 1883-85), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 58 by 41 in. (147.32 by 104.14 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org) Sans Dot was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1993 for $ 800,000 USD/£ 553,824 GBP.

In Dobbs Ferry, New York, Suzanne McCormick (born 1936) and her husband, Edmund J. McCormick (1912 – 1988), a business executive, management consultant and philanthropist, collected American paintings before they began to buy 19th century British/Victorian paintings in 1976.  The McCormick collection included works by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Edward Burne-Jones, John Atkinson Grimshaw, William Holman Hunt, Arthur Hughes, Frederic Leighton, John Everett Millais, Albert Moore, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Singer Sargent, James Tissot, James Abbott McNeill Whistler and others.  Edmund McCormick was a friend of Christopher Forbes, and each of them would write “most wanted” lists of Victorian paintings to add to their respective collections.  The McCormicks displayed their collection at Norcross, their house overlooking the Hudson River designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but their paintings also were widely exhibited.

In 1976, Christopher Wood published Victorian Panorama: Paintings of Victorian Life, and he left Christie’s to open his own gallery in Motcomb Street.  The McCormicks purchased Tissot’s Going to Business (Going to the City, 1879) from the Christopher Wood Gallery in 1977.  [After her husband’s death in 1988, Mrs. McCormick, a former pianist, sold a portion of the collection at Sotheby’s, New York in 1990.  Going to Business sold for $ 180,000/£ 106,559.]

Going to Business (Going to the City, 1879), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 17.25 by 10 in. (43.8 by 25.4 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Morning Ride, by James Tissot.  Private Collection.

The Morning Ride, by James Tissot. Private Collection.

Interestingly, the work of James Tissot is half-French, half-British.  While he was increasingly in the spotlight now shining on the Victorian painters, he still was folded in with the Impressionists.  When the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held its exhibition, “Impressionist Epoch,” from December 12, 1974 to February 10, 1975, James Tissot’s The Morning Ride, which he painted in London between 1872 and 1876, was included.

Nine more Tissot oils entered public collections in the 1970s.

Tissot gave A Civic Procession Descending Ludgate Hill, London (c. 1879, oil on canvas, 84.5 by 43 in./214.6 by 109.2 cm), previously called The Lord Mayor’s Show, to the Curator of the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris.  The painting was purchased by the Corporation of London through S.C. L’Expertise, Paris, from the curator’s granddaughter, Mme. Léonce Bénédite, in 1972 and is now in the collection of the Guildhall Art Gallery.  It is not currently on view, but see James Tissot’s “A Civic Procession” (c. 1879).

Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1867), by James Tissot. 27 by 15 in. (68.58 by 38.10 cm).  Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Lucy Paquette.

Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1867), by James Tissot. 27 by 15 in. (68.58 by 38.10 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Lucy Paquette.

On the River (1871), by James Tissot.

In 1867, James Tissot painted Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1824 –1896), the president of the exclusive Jockey Club in Paris.  The portrait remained in the family until 1971, when it was sold at Christie’s, London for $ 4,352/£ 1,800.  Seven months later, the small but arresting portrait was with the Herman Shickman Gallery, New York, before being purchased by the City of Philadelphia with the W. P. Wilstach Fund in 1972.  It is on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Gallery 151 on the first floor (European Art 1850-1900).

On the River (1871), measuring 34 by 19 in. (86.36 by 48.26 cm), was in the collection of Mrs. M. Ford until it was sold at Sotheby’s, London for $ 1,175/£ 420 in 1964.  It was purchased by Jeremy Maas, a London art dealer who sold it to the U.K. Department of the Environment in July 1973.  As part of the Government Art Collection, On the River is now at the British Embassy in Paris.

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

On the Thames, A Heron (c. 1871-1872) is one of Tissot’s first paintings after his move from Paris to London in June, 1871 – 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 by 23 in./88.90 by 58.42 cm), the painting was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1973 for $ 32,000/£ 12,886.  On the Thames, A Heron was the gift of collector Mrs. Patrick Butler, by exchange in 1975, to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

L’embuscade (Tentative d’enlèvement)/The Ambush (The Attempted Abduction) [also referred to as L’enlèvement] (c. 1865-67). Oil on canvas, 22.5 by 36.6 in. (57.2 by 93 cm). Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, France.

L’embuscade (Tentative d’enlèvement)/The Ambush (The Attempted Abduction) [also referred to as L’enlèvement], c. 1865-67, was acquired in 1974 by the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes with the assistance of a grant from the Direction des Musées de France.  It has been included in numerous exhibitions.

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

At the Rifle Range (1869) 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 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 by 25.4 cm).

Hide and Seek (1877), by James Tissot. 28 7/8 by 21 1/4 in. /73.4 by 53.9 cm. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 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

Hide and Seek (1877), by James Tissot. 28 7/8 by 21 1/4 in. /73.4 by 53.9 cm. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 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

Hide and Seek (1877) shows Kathleen Newton reading in his studio while her nieces and children play at his spacious home at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood. The painting was sold at Christie’s, London in 1957 for $ 2,379/£ 850, then at Sotheby’s, London in 1963 for $ 6,159/£ 2,200.  Mrs. C. Behr, London, owned it until at least 1967, after which it belonged to Julian Spiro, Esq.  In 1976, it was sold at Christie’s, London for $ 33,002/£ 20,000, and in 1978, Hide and Seek was purchased from the Herman Shickman Gallery, New York with the Chester Dale Fund by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

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).  It was one of the largest works the artist ever had produced.

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

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 residing 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.

©  2014 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Related posts:

James Tissot in the Roaring ‘20s

Tissot’s Comeback in the 1930s

James Tissot in the 1940s: La Mystérieuse is identified

James Tissot in the era of Abstract Expressionism

James Tissot and the Revival of Victorian Art in the 1960s
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.