Monthly Archives: February 2015

James Tissot’s Faust series, 1860-65

             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.

In Goethe’s 1808 version of the legend of Faust, one of the greatest works of German literature, Faust sells his soul to Mephistopheles, the devil, in return for youth, knowledge and magical powers.  Faust meets and seduces the beautiful and innocent Marguerite, who comes to an unhappy end.

The story was popular across Europe, especially in France.  In 1827, the publisher and lithographer Charles Motte persuaded French romantic painter Eugène Delacroix (1798 –1863) to illustrate the first French edition of Goethe’s Faust.

Faust and Marguerite in the Garden (1846), by Ary Scheffer. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Ary Scheffer (1795 – 1858), a painter with Dutch origins who painted in France, enjoyed great success in Paris with his series of paintings based on scenes from FaustFaust in his Study, Faust Doubting, Marguerite at the Spinning WheelFaust Holding the Cup, Marguerite at the Sabbat, Marguerite Leaving Church, Faust and Marguerite in the Garden (1846), and the most popular of all, Marguerite at the Fountain (1852).

Scheffer’s biographer wrote of the profound experience felt by readers of Goethe’s tragedy in verse, and its potential in the hands of an artist:  “Profoundly as it explores the mysterious relations between the sensual and the intellectual natures of man, whilst exhibiting the varied workings of human passions and weakness, Faust deals likewise with the tragic element, in a way to touch the deepest chords of sympathy.”

In 1859, a year after Scheffer’s death, Tissot traveled to Antwerp, augmenting his art education by taking lessons in the studio of the Belgian painter Hendrik Leys (1815 – 1869).  Leys’ painting, The Trental Mass of Berthal de Haze – replete with numerous characters enacting a historical drama against a detailed architectural background – won a gold medal at the 1855 Paris International Exhibition.

The Trental Mass of Berthal de Haze (1854), by Hendrik Leys. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Studying under Leys, who himself imitated painting styles he admired, Tissot’s work now began to combine academic technique with minute detail, historical accuracy and a dark paint surface.  He also would have noted that Leys painted Faust and Marguerite in 1856.

In Paris, Charles Gounod’s grand opera version of Faust premiered at the Théatre-Lyrique on March 19, 1859.

In 1860, Tissot, as a cocky 24-year-old, priced Le Rencontre de Faust et de Marguerite (The Meeting of Faust and Marguerite, oil on panel, 78 by 117 cm) at 6,500 francs.  Tissot and his picture attracted the attention of the Comte de Nieuwerkerke, Director-General of Museums, who purchased the painting by an order of July 17, 1860 on behalf of the French government for the Luxembourg Museum for 5,000 francs.  (The Luxembourg was founded in 1818 to display works by living artists, who could not be exhibited at the Louvre).  Nieuwerkerke was the man to impress – thanks to his mistress, Princess Mathilde (the Emperor’s first cousin) he was in charge of the Louvre, the Luxembourg, and the Salon.  Le Recontre de Faust et de Marguerite was exhibited at the Salon in 1861.  It remained at the Luxembourg until 1907, when it was with the Minister of the Interior, Paris.  From 1960 to 1982, it was with the City Hall at Le Chambon-Feugerolles, in central France.  After 1982, the painting was assigned to the Musée d’Orsay, where it now is on display with others once exhibited at the Salon.

Faust and Marguerite, by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 6.10 by 8.66 in. (15.50 by 22.00 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Faust and Marguerite, a small study for The Meeting of Faust and Marguerite, was sold at auction at Koller, Zurich in 2012 for 6,000 CHF ($ 6,640/£ 4,159).

Faust et Marguerite au jardin (Faust and Marguerite in the Garden, 1861), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 25 by 35 in. (63.50 by 88.90 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Le Recontre de Faust et de Marguerite was one of six paintings Tissot had accepted for exhibition at the Salon in 1861.  Two of the others also were based on Goethe’s FaustFaust and Marguerite in the Garden, and Marguerite at the Service.

Tissot asked 5,000 francs for Faust et Marguerite au jardin (Faust and Marguerite in the Garden, 1861).  In 1976, it was sold at Christie’s, London for $ 10,123/£ 5,000; as of 1986, it was in the collection of David Rust (1930 – 2011), Washington, D.C.  Rust, a collector, curator and connoisseur, worked for two decades as Chief Curator of European Art at the National Gallery.

Tissot painted four very different versions of Marguerite à l’église (Marguerite in Church), which over the years have been labeled with a confusing array of similar names, all portraying Marguerite after she has been abandoned by Faust.

Marguerite in Church, edited (kneeling on right)The Paris art gallery, Goupil & Co., acquired the first version of Marguerite à l’église (1860, oil on panel, 27 by 36 in./68.58 by 91.44 cm) from Tissot that year and exhibited it in 1861.  At Goupil’s London branch in 1875, the firm began holding regular exhibitions of European paintings.  In 1879, Goupil sold Tissot’s Marguerite à l’église for 300 guineas to Henry Martin Gibbs (1850 – 1928), who in 1917 bought Sheldon Manor, just west of Chippenham, Wiltshire, England, as a home for his eldest son, William Otter Gibbs (1883 – 1960), after his marriage in 1915.  The painting remained at Barrow Court, Henry Martin Gibbs’ Jacobean manor house in Somerset, until 1947 and after 1960 at Sheldon Manor.  Sheldon, primarily built in the sixteenth century, was a perfect setting for Marguerite à l’église.  Tissot’s picture was included in major exhibitions in the U.K. from November 1984 to June 1985 and Washington D.C. from November 1985 to March 1986.  Martin Antony Gibbs, the grandson of the man who had bought Sheldon, died in 1995.  After Marguerite à l’église was exhibited at London’s Royal Academy, with “Art Treasures of England,” January to April 1998, it was sold in late June of that year at Christie’s, London for $ 81,898/£ 49,000.  In 2007, Marguerite à l’église again was sold at Christie’s, London, this time for $ 139,965/£ 70,000.

Marguerite in Church (c. 1861), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 50 by 75 cm. The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Marguerite in Church (c. 1861), another version of Marguerite à l’église, was presented to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin by American-born international mining magnate Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875 – 1968) in 1950.  This version was exhibited at the Salon in 1861 as Marguerite à l’office (Marguerite at the Service, or Marguerite at Mass).

Charles Gounod’s Faust was revived in Paris in 1862, and it was performed in London at Covent Garden in 1864, with Mephistopheles played by celebrated French baritone (and art collector) Jean-Baptiste Faure.

At the Hermitage Museum in Norfolk, Virginia with Marguerite in Church (1865), by James  Tissot.

At the Hermitage Museum in Norfolk, Virginia with Marguerite in Church (1865), by James Tissot.

Tissot exhibited Marguerite in Church (1865, oil on panel) at the Salon in 1866 as Jeune femme dans une église (Young Woman in a Church).  It was purchased at Christie’s, London, in 1927 without a frame, as a gift for Florence Sloane, the wife of William Sloane.  William and Florence were from wealthy families in New York; Sloane came to Norfolk, Virginia, in 1887 to work in his uncle’s knitting mills, and the couple married in 1893.  After his uncle died, Sloane took over three mills, renamed the business William Sloane & Co. and acquired Tidewater Knitting Mill in Portsmouth, Virginia.  In 1908, the Sloanes built an Arts and Crafts style house on the shore of the Lafayette River in Norfolk and called it The Hermitage.

IMG_4930 (2)

Marguerite (1858), by William Wetmore Story. Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo: Lucy Paquette)

During World War I, William Sloane’s mills turned out thousands of pairs of fleece-lined long underwear for the Army and Navy while Florence volunteered as postmistress, sewed for the Red Cross, helped at the local hospitals and entertained American, Australian and English troops on the lawn and gardens of her home with cookouts, games and music on summer weekends from 1914 to 1918.  The Sloanes entertained as many as 1,800 at a time.

Mrs. Sloane helped secure the land for what would become the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, which began as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences 1926.  William Sloane was its first president, and Florence Sloane its first director.  Even so, Florence traveled to Europe and built an extensive art collection of her own, which was opened to the public in 1942.  You can see James Tissot’s Marguerite in Church – now framed – at The Hermitage Museum and Gardens.

And nearby, at the Chrysler Museum, you can see a marble sculpture of Marguerite!

Marguerite au rampart (Marguerite by the Rampart, 1861), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 43 by 34 in. (109.22 by 86.36 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Marguerite au rempart (Marguerite by the Rampart, 1861) was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1989 for $ 210,000/£ 133,945.  A few years later, in 1994, it again was sold at Sotheby’s, New York, this time for just $ 120,000/£ 75,877.  Note that Marguerite’s pose is identical to that in the National Gallery of Ireland’s Marguerite in Church (c. 1861), above, and that her costume is nearly identical.

Marguerite at the WellAnother painting in Tissot’s series, Marguerite à la fontaine (Marguerite at the Well, 1861, oil on canvas, 50 by 40 in./127 by 101.6 cm) was last sold at Sotheby’s, London in 1959 for $ 1,819/£ 650.  As of 1986, it was in the collection of Dr. Arthur C. Herrington, Washington, D.C.  His father was Arthur W. S. Herrington (1891 –1970), founder of the Marmon- Herrington vehicle manufacturing company in Indianapolis, Indiana, who designed the Jeep and other light trucks for military use, then trolleys and buses.  Dr. Arthur Herrington’s mother, Nell Clarke Herrington, was a pioneer and leader in Indianapolis cultural development and owner of an impressive art collection.

Other paintings in Tissot’s Faust series known from his photographic record remain unlocated, such as the fourth version of Marguerite in Church, showing her in front of a carved choir screen and called Marguerite à l’office (c. 1861), and Marguerite in a Staircase.

Incidentally, a contemporary critic complained that Tissot had not bothered to read Faust, without suggesting how the artist might have portrayed these scenes differently, if he had.  But Tissot surely must have enjoyed the fact that the Goupil gallery, with photographer Robert Jefferson Bingham (1824 or 1825 – 1870), published photographic prints of five of the young artist’s Faust paintings in 1860-61, and these prints sold across Europe and America.

Related posts:

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

James Tissot’s Medieval Paintings, 1858-67

©  2015 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/B009P5RY

James Tissot’s Medieval Paintings, 1858-67

            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.

www.jamestissot.org, Self-Portrait-3 (as monk)

Self-portrait (c. 1859), by James Tissot. Courtesy http://www.jamestissot.org

James Tissot left Nantes, the seaport where he was born, to study art in Paris in 1856, shortly before he turned 20.  The medieval architecture of Nantes, and of Brugelette, in Flanders, where he was educated at a Jesuit college, made such an impression on him that he had at first wished to become an architect.

In Paris, Tissot studied briefly at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1857.  But he was impressed by the popular work of the Belgian painter Hendrik Leys (1815 – 1869).  Leys’ painting, The Trental Mass of Berthal de Haze – replete with numerous characters enacting a historical drama against a detailed architectural background inspired by the early Flemish and German masters won a gold medal at the 1855 Paris International Exhibition.  In 1859, Tissot traveled to Antwerp and took lessons in Leys’ studio.

Promenade dans la NeigeThat year, at 23, Tissot also made his artistic debut at the Paris Salon, exhibiting five pieces including Promenade dans la neige (Walk in the Snow, 1858), which the artist had repeatedly scraped and reworked.  Zacharie Astruc (1833 – 1907), a sculptor, painter and art critic, wondered if Tissot was amusing himself by placing student work in a frame and suggested he should have left Promenade dans la Neige in his studio.  But this picture of a medieval couple taking a walk on a wooded hill overlooking a distant castle is alive in that it evokes the tense mood of the man and the woman, who have just quarreled.

In 1862, Tissot also displayed this painting at the London International Exhibition.  Over six million visitors viewed works by 28,000 exhibitors from 36 countries – a range of wonders in the arts, industry and technology.  Tissot gave his work the English title, A Walk in the Snow; by showing it in England, the young artist signaled his ambition and widened his reputation.

By 1874, Vincent van Gogh was aware of Promenade dans la neige and praised it, and Tissot, in a letter to his younger brother Theo, an art dealer.  Much later, the painting found its way to Paul Touzet, a French dealer in Old Masters, and as of 1982, it was in a private collection in Paris.

IMG_4440 (2)

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 by 122.4 by 3.8 cm). Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence. (Photo by Lucy Paquette)

As the Salon was held biennially after 1855, the next was in 1861.

The Dance of Death, or Voie des fleurs, voie des pleurs (Path of Flowers, Way of Tears, 1860), a medieval dance of death exhibited as one of six of Tissot’s paintings at the Salon in 1861, is currently on display high on the West Wall of the Grand Gallery at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum in Providence.  It was the only one of Tissot’s early paintings to be admired by the critics, and Tissot offered it to a collector at what he claimed to consider a low price of 5,000 francs – a month’s income for a wealthy man at that time.  The Dance of Death was in a private collection in Philadelphia until it was purchased from Julius Weitzner (1896 – 1986), an American dealer in Old Masters paintings, by the RISD in 1954.  Tissot’s friend, Edgar Degas, made a sketch of this picture in one of his notebooks, and van Gogh also was familiar with this painting, as he mentioned it in an 1883 letter to his brother Theo.

An oil study for this picture, or an earlier version of it, Allegory of the transience of life (1859), was sold at Christie’s, London in 1972 for $ 2,850/£ 1,100.

Pendant l’office (During the Service, also called Martin Luther’s Doubts, 1860), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 35 by 27 in. (88.90 by 68.58 cm).  Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

At the Salon in 1861, Tissot also exhibited Pendant l’office (During the Service, also called Martin Luther’s Doubts, 1860).  He originally priced it at 9,000 francs.  It was sold at Christie’s, New York in 1986 for $ 80,000/£ 52,756, then again at the same auction house in 1994 for $ 60,000/£ 40,677.

The Return of the Prodigal Son (1862), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 45 by 81 in. (114.30 by 205.74 cm). The Manney Collection, New York. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

At the Salon in 1863, Tissot exhibited three pictures including The Return of the Prodigal Son (1862) and Le départ du fiancé (The Departure of the Fiancé).

But the critics had had enough of Tissot’s medieval paintings and began to satirize him.  One prominent French critic wrote of him and The Return of the Prodigal Son, “When he has done enough archaeology, we will do as the father of the prodigal child he showed this year:  we will kill the fatted calf, and we will forgive him.”

Le départ du fiancé, unlocated, is known through a related preparatory study, c.1863, 6 by 11 in./15.24 by 27.94 cm).  It was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 2002 from the estates of David M. Daniels and Stevan Beck Baloga, for $ 6,000/£ 3,849.

At the Salon in 1864, Tissot exhibited two modern paintings to great acclaim; he began to hit his stride as an artist.  But he was not ready to give up his medieval subjects.  Promenade sur les remparts (Walk on the ramparts, 1864, oil on board, 52 by 44.4 cm) was sold in 1875 for £ 315.  In 1968, petroleum geologist Robert Sumpf (1917 – 1994) gifted it to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University in California, where he had earned his B.S. in geology in 1941.

Tissot also exhibited work in London in 1864, choosing to show medieval pictures.  He had two pictures on display at the Society of British Artists – The Elopement* (1861) and The Return of the Prodigal Son) – and at the Royal Academy Exhibition, an oil painting of another snowy scene called At the Break of Day*.  The Return of the Prodigal Son did not impress the critics in London.  It was sold at Arnaune in 1980 for 195,000 FRF ($ 46,507/£ 20,386) and later at Christie’s, London in 1992 for $ 203,720/£ 110,000.  It is now in the Manney Collection; Richard and Gloria Manney, who live in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, made their fortune in the media time-buying business and are well known for their generous patronage to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tissot exhibited two paintings, including Tentative d’enlèvement (The Attempted Abduction), at the Salon in 1865.  This picture was with Goupil in Paris until acquired by Knoedler in 1866, and then belonged to a private collector in New York, from whom it was acquired by Elliott L. Bloom (1930 – 2011).  Bloom was the founder and owner of Elliott Galleries in New York, where he had worked as an art and antiques dealer for over fifty-five years.  Tentative d’enlèvement was sold for $134,500/£ 83,281 (Premium) at Sotheby’s, New York in 2012.

By 1866, Tissot was regularly painting oil portraits of wealthy men and women, and earning commissions such as his Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née Thérèse Feuillant.  At the Salon in 1866, Tissot exhibited two pictures of fashionable, modern women.  Neither painting earned particular acclaim, but Tissot was elected hors concours – beyond the competition, or, in a class by himself:  from now on, he could exhibit any painting he wished at the annual Salon, without submitting his work to the jury’s scrutiny.  The price for his pictures skyrocketed.  At 30, only ten years since his arrival in the capital, he decided to purchase property on the most prestigious new thoroughfare in Paris, the avenue de l’Impératrice (Empress Avenue, now avenue Foch).  He would be living in grand style in his luxurious new villa by late 1867 or early 1868.  Until then, he lived in the crowded, ancient rue Bonaparte and continued to paint medieval pictures.

L’embuscade (Tentative d’enlèvement)/The Ambush (The Attempted Abduction) [also referred to as L’enlèvement] (c. 1865-67), by James Tissot. 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 sold in 1880 for £199 10 shillings.  In 1974, it was acquired 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, most recently James Tissot et ses Maîtres, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, November 4, 2005 to January 5, 2006 and The 19th century Japan Project – The Flow from 19th century French Art to 20th century Modern Art,  Hamamatsu Municipal Museum of Art, Japan, August 25 to October 8, 2012; Akita Senshu Museum of Art, Japan, November 3 to December 16, 2012; Saga Prefectural Art Museum, Japan, January 25 to March 10, 2013; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan, June 8 to July 7, 2013; Kagoshima City Museum of Art, Japan, July 19 to September 1, 2013.

Le rendez-vous (c. 1867), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 20 by 14 in. (50.80 by 35.56 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Tissot exhibited Le rendez-vous at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1867.  It was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 2005 for $ 80,000/£ 41,677.

Le rendez-vous secret (c. 1865-67) was sold at Arcole, Paris in 1991 for 245,000 FRF ($ 42,483/£ 24,713.  An oil on canvas, it measures 24 by 18 in. (60.96 by 45.72 cm) and remains in a private collection.

Tissot painted another medieval series, based on one of the greatest works of German literature, Goethe’s 1808 version of the legend of Faust.  German Romanticism was popular at this time, and Tissot exhibited scenes from Faust concurrently with his other medieval pictures.  [See James Tissot’s Faust series, 1860-65.]

By 1867, or about the time he moved into his splendid new Parisian villa, he had moved on to scenes of modern life – bringing the same attention to detail, use of weather to create mood, and skill in rendering fashion and psychological tension.  Even as he grew and prospered as an artist, he retained his defining interests and characteristic subject matter.  He would go on to paint other versions of the prodigal son, couples after a quarrel, and contemporary updates of his early paintings, such as Le rendez-vous secret (c. 1890).

Le rendez-vous secret (c. 1890), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

3/29/15 Update*:  Tissot’s The Elopement and At the Break of Day recently were offered for sale at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, and were displayed from March 21 -24, 2015 in the sales room at Donnington Priory, a seventeenth-century mansion an hour west of London, near Newbury.  The two paintings (both oil on panel, 7 by 11 3/4 in./17.5 by 30 cm) sold together for £4,000 [Hammer price] on March 25, 2015.  My thanks to Tim Thomas in Newbury for alerting me to this sale.

Related posts:

On his own: Tissot as a Paris art student, 1855 — 1858

Becoming James: Tissot’s first Salon, 1859

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

James Tissot’s Faust series, 1860-65

Modern Painter: Tissot’s Focus Shifts, 1864

Ready and waiting: Tissot’s entrée, 1865

In a class by himself: Tissot beyond the competition, 1866

©  2015 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/B009P5RY