Monthly Archives: June 2016

Masculine Fashion, by James Tissot: Officers, soldiers & sailors (1868 – 1883/85)

“Our industrial and artistic creations can perish, our morals and our fashions can fall into obscurity, but a picture by M. Tissot will be enough for archaeologists of the future to reconstitute our epoch.”

~ L’Artiste, 1869, in a review of Tissot’s painting, Young Ladies Looking at Japanese Objects, exhibited at the Paris Salon

It was not just women’s fashions that James Tissot painted with the precision of a photojournalist recording the sights around him; he also recorded military men in detail, giving us a glimpse of life in his time.

Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens (1867), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo:

This painting, which Tissot exhibited at the Salon in 1868, features four Imperial Guardsmen:  three Hussars and a Zouave.

In 1830, numerous members of the fierce Kabyli tribe of Zouaoua living in the rocky hills of Algeria and Morocco volunteered to fight with the French colonial army.  In 1852, Napoléon III, Emperor of the French, ordered the Zouaves – by that time native Frenchmen stationed in Algeria – restructured into three regiments of the regular French Army.  The Zouave regiments served in The Crimean War (1853 – 1856).  On December 23, 1854, the Emperor created a fourth regiment, the Zouaves of the Imperial Guard; detachments from the Zouave regiments serving in the Crimea were brought together on March 15, 1855 to form it.  They were based at Saint-Cloud until 1857, and subsequently at Versailles.  The Zouaves of the Imperial Guard served through all the campaigns of the Second Empire, including the Franco-Austrian War of 1859 and the Mexican Intervention (1864-66).

The Zouaves earned a reputation for reckless bravery, and they became famous for their distinctive uniforms, which included a short, collarless, open-fronted jacket, baggy trousers, sashes and Oriental head gear, modelled on Algerian native dress.  The Zouave drummer in Tissot’s painting wears a blue uniform with gold trim, leggings, a white turban with a golden tassel, and white spats over his black leather shoes.

The Hussars, in their smartly-tailored blue, red and gold uniforms, are possibly from the 9th Hussar Regiment, formed in 1852 as the régiment des guides.  In 1854, it became the régiment des guides de la Garde Impériale.

Frederick Burnaby (1870), by James Tissot. National Portrait Gallery, London. (Photo:

Tissot painted this portrait of Frederick Gustavus (“Gus”) Burnaby (1842-1885) sometime between the autumn of 1869 and the summer of 1870.  Burnaby, a captain in the Royal Horse Guards (3rd Household Cavalry, “the Blues”), was 27 or 28 years old and mingled with the Prince of Wales’ social set.

He is shown off duty, smoking and conversing in his “undress” uniform of a dark blue coat with a standing collar, scarlet and gold trimmings, a white cross-belt, and long blue trousers with red stripes sewn along the outer seams.  He wears highly polished black leather shoes, and his military cap is beside him.  Behind him, his full-dress uniform is laid out:  a plumed silver-gilt helmet, frogged cape, polished metal cuirass (breastplate), and thigh-high black riding boots.

The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874), by James Tissot. Musée Nationale du Château de Compiègne, France. (Photo:

The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874) depicts the exiled French Empress, living outside London after the collapse of the Second Empire, and her son, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (1856-1879), the Prince Impérial.  The only child of Napoléon III of France, he was accepted to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in 1872 and is pictured in the uniform of a Woolwich cadet.  He wears a jacket with a standing collar, trimmed in red and gold with a single row of brass buttons, long trousers, and a round cap with a gold band.

Upon his father’s death in January, 1873, Bonapartists proclaimed him Napoléon IV.  When the Prince turned 18 in 1874, thousands of French citizens traveled to fête him in Chislehurst:  the railway station flew the tricolour of France, while in the main waiting room an inscription, wreathed in laurels and violets, read, “Vive le Prince Impérial 16 mars, 1874.”  He made a speech to rapturous crowds.

The Prince Impérial proved himself an excellent student at Woolwich – seventh in a class of thirty-four – and graduated in early 1875.

In The Gentleman Cadet: His Career and Adventures at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich:  a Tale of the Past (1875), Alfred Wilks Drayson (I827-1901) recalled, “It was ten days after joining the Academy that I first obtained my uniform, and I can recall even now the secret pride with which I first put it on.  I felt now that I really had commenced the career of a soldier…There seemed to come upon me a feeling of responsibility as the coat came on me, and I made up my mind not to disgrace my cloth.”

Louis-Napoléon became friends with members of the British Royal Family, especially with the Prince of Wales.  He was advised not to join the regular service of the British Government, and therefore was not commissioned as an officer.  He was killed in 1879, at age 23, in the Zulu War.

Reading the News (c. 1874), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo:

Reading the News (c. 1874) is an enigmatic painting featuring a lovely woman wearing a yachting costume, at a tea table with a Chelsea pensioner in his navy blue “undress,” or casual uniform.  What is a Chelsea pensioner?  He (or, since 2009 – she) is one of about 300 residents at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a retirement home and nursing home for former members of the British Army located on Royal Hospital Road in west London.  They surrender their army pension and live within the Royal Hospital, free of financial worries while enjoying comradeship, full medical care and catering services, and a wide range of activities including charitable causes.  Chelsea pensioners may come and go from the Royal Hospital as they please, and they are permitted to wear civilian clothing when they travel.  But within the Hospital, and in the surrounding area, they wear the blue uniform (the RH on the man’s hat is for Royal Hospital).  For ceremonial occasions, they wear distinctive scarlet coats and black tricorne hats.

The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth), c. 1876, by James Tissot. Tate, London. (Photo:

Though the male in this painting is a minor character who could have been any man from a dandy in a lounge suit to an older figure in a frock coat, Tissot lends added interest to The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth) by depicting him as a low-ranking naval officer.  Looking rather off-duty here, the young ensign slouches over the rail with his cap pushed back – considering the company on this hot summer day, perhaps his brow is sweaty?

Sans dot (Without a Dowry, 1883-85), by James Tissot. [One of a series of fifteen large-scale pictures called La Femme à Paris (The Parisian Woman).] Private Collection. (Photo:

In the top left corner of Sans dot (Without a Dowry), Tissot painted two handsome French officers – for interest, and as possible objects of a new romance for the beautiful young widow in the foreground.

Over a dozen years after the fall of the Second Empire, these officers wear finely-tailored uniforms reminiscent of Captain Burnaby’s from 1870.  The officer on the left wears a double-breasted blue coat with a red- and gold-trimmed standing collar, button-down shoulder straps, triple rows of brass buttons, and red cuffs with gold embroidery.  Under this, he wears a high-collared white shirt.  His long blue trousers have a red stripe down the outer seams, and his blue képi (cap) has a dark blue band and a black leather visor.  He wears pristine white gloves.

The officer on the right wears a blue coat with a high red collar and red cuffs with gold embroidery.  In the back, its double vent is embellished with brass buttons.  His high-collared white shirt peeks out as well.  His long red trousers have a blue stripe sewn down the outer seams.  His red képi has a blue band, and he also wears white gloves – along with pincenez.  The gold braid trim on the shoulders of his coat indicates his higher rank.

In these paintings, Tissot painted a brief survey of military men of his era, from a young cadet to a retired member of the British army, from snappy officers to slouching ensigns, and from the exotic to the everyday.

Related post:

Masculine Fashion, by James Tissot: Aristocrats (1865 – 1868)

©  2016 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



Masculine Fashion, by James Tissot: Aristocrats (1865 – 1868)

James Tissot, the son of a draper and a hat manufacturer, was so skilled a painter of women’s fashions that he receives little notice for his depictions of men’s fashions.

The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their Children (1865), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 69 11/16 by 85 7/16 in. (177 by 217 cm). Musée d’Orsay, Paris (Photo credit:

In The Marquis and the Marchioness of Miramon and their children, René de Cassagne de Beaufort, marquis de Miramon (1835 – 1882) and his wife, née Thérèse Feuillant (1836 – 1912), pose with their first two children, Geneviève (1863 – 1924) and Léon (1861 – 1884) on the terrace of the château de Paulhac in Auvergne.

IMG_2606 Marquis de MiramonThe Marquis is elegant and at his ease in loosely-cut sack coat with sloping shoulders and balloon sleeves (cut very wide at the elbows and narrowing at the shoulder and cuff) that were influenced by the Oriental vogue.  His left lapel is accented with the ultimate sartorial touch — a rose, this one in a delicate pink.

The fact that his riding breeches are cut from the same grey fabric as the coat was a novelty, considered appropriate only in domestic settings – amounting to a sporty lounge suit.  His tall leather riding boots, with their marvelous row of spherical buttons, echo the spherical cuff link on his left wrist.

His white linen or cotton shirt has a turnover collar, and his deep blue patterned silk necktie is tied in a loose knot and appears to be fastened with a pearl stickpin.  His light-colored, collarless waistcoat is cut high at the top and straight across the bottom, adorned with a gold watch chain.  The informal dress and poses of his subjects, along with the outdoor setting, gave Tissot’s family portrait a British flair that was quite modern at the time.

At the same time, the Marquis de Miramon epitomizes Baudelaire’s 1863 theory of true dandyism as representing “perfection in dress” and “the best way to appear distinguished.”  The accomplished gentleman was always dressed correctly for any occasion, public or private.

IMG_2603, LéonThe Marquis’ son, Léon, at four, also is perfectly turned out, though more flamboyant.  He wears a lace-trimmed white shirt, and his buff-colored coat and matching waistcoat are adorned with black scrollwork (soutache) embroidery, fashionable in the mid-1860s (and similar to that worn by the central figure in Monet’s monumental 1866 painting, Women in the Garden).  He would be out of skirts, and wearing a jacket and trousers, by the time he reached age 5 or 6.  Léon’s black leather shoes, paired with black and grey diced Scottish kilt hose, sport silver buckles.  On his chair, his low-crowned straw helmet, its color an exact match with his coat and waistcoat, is made splendid by a black velvet ribbon band and rosette with a bejeweled silver ornament.

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.

In 1867, Tissot painted 43-year-old Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1824 –1896), the president of the exclusive Jockey Club in Paris.  Married in 1853, Eugène Aimé Nicolas Coppens de Fontenay had three children.

In this distinctive portrait, he is wearing wearing a white shirt with a turnover collar and a bright blue necktie.  His black sack coat has sloping shoulders and is paired with a high-cut, collarless waistcoat in pristine white.

Fontenay carries a top hat, tan kid gloves, and a walking stick, proper accouterments for day wear.  His trousers, in a brown fabric contrasting with his coat, are slim-fitting and have a substantial break.  He wears black leather ankle boots (probably with elastic sides) and, like the Marquis de Miramon, sports a dapper waxed mustache.

The Jockey Club began as a meeting place for members of the Society for the Encouragement of Horse Racing in France, founded in November 1833 by fourteen Anglophiles under the age of 30, who were aristocrats or the scions of financiers and horse breeders.  The Jockey Club was founded in June 1834, in luxurious, wood-paneled quarters on the corner of rue Grange-Batelière, just north of the intersection between Boulevard Haussmann, Boulevard des Italiens, and Boulevard Poissonnière.  All fashionable men aspired to belong to this bastion of male extravagance.  By 1864, it had 650 titled and wealthy members, who voted with white or black balls; six white balls were required for admission.

The Circle of the Rue Royale (1868), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 68 7/8 by 110 5/8 in. (175 by 281 cm). Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo credit:

In 1868, Tissot painted a dozen of the most fashionable men in Paris in a group portrait, The Circle of the Rue Royale (1868).  Members of this exclusive club, founded in 1852, each paid Tissot a sitting fee of 1,000 francs.  He portrayed them on a balcony of the Hôtel de Coislin overlooking the Place de la Concorde (if you look closely at the original painting, you can see the horse traffic through the balustrade).  From left to right: Count Alfred de la Tour Maubourg (1834-1891), Marquis Alfred du Lau d’Allemans (1833-1919), Count Étienne de Ganay (1833-1903), Captain Coleraine Vansittart (1833-1886), Marquis René de Miramon (1835-1882), Count Julien de Rochechouart (1828-1897), Baron Rodolphe Hottinguer (1835-1920; he kept the painting according to the agreed-upon drawing of lots), Marquis Charles-Alexandre de Ganay *(1803-1881), Baron Gaston de Saint-Maurice (1831-1905), Prince Edmond de Polignac (1834-1901), Marquis Gaston de Galliffet (1830-1909) and Charles Haas (1833-1902).

IMG_2655, Count Alfred de La Tour MaubourgSeated on the balustrade, Count Alfred de La Tour Maubourg, at age 34, wears a black sack coat with only the top button fastened, in what was called “English” or “Richmond-style” buttoning.  He wears it over loose, light-grey trousers, a white waistcoat over a white shirt with a turnover collar, and a blue cravat.


IMG_2654, Marquis Alfred du Lau d’AllemansLounging next to him, the Marquis Alfred du Lau d’Allemans, age 35, wears a black sack coat over loose, dark-grey trousers, a white shirt with a turnover collar, and a black patterned cravat, while showing off his high-cut golden silk waistcoat.


IMG_2651, Count Étienne de GanayCount Étienne de Ganay, in the black silk top hat, is more formally dressed in a morning suit with a high stand-up shirt collar under his tan overcoat.  His low-cut, shawl-collared waistcoat displays his pristine white shirt, with its tight-fitting, stand-up collar.  At 35, he wears a golden watch chain, and he carries a cane, as if soon to depart on business.  He has an extraordinary combination of a blonde handlebar mustache and prodigious brown whiskers.

IMG_2647, Count Julien de RochechouartCount Julien de Rochechouart, age 40, is seated, with a cigarette in his right hand.  His stylish black and white hounds tooth trousers echo the colors of the Dalmatian at his feet, while the solid black of his buttoned frock coat is relieved by his casually fluffed white pocket square – and his massive ginger beard.  His black leather ankle boots have a high polish.

IMG_2649, Captain Coleraine VansittartCaptain Coleraine Vansittart, standing behind him with slicked-down hair, was British.  He sports a brown sack coat buttoned Richmond-style and cut sharply away from the top button to show a considerable amount of the matching waistcoat.  At 35, he pairs these items with grey trousers and a white shirt with a high, starched, stand-up collar.  He seems to be wearing a white necktie.  His pose, with his left hand tucked into his pocket, exposes the black-and-white gingham lining of the coat.

IMG_2646, Marquis René de MiramonMarquis René de Miramon, age 33, is seated on the sofa, wearing a black silk top hat and holding tan gloves and an umbrella.  Dressed more formally than in his 1865 family portrait, he wears his black morning coat with light-grey trousers and black leather ankle boots.  Peeking out under his white turnover collar is a bright blue necktie.


IMG_2643, Baron Rodolphe HottinguerBaron Rodolphe Hottinguer, a banking heir who at 33 won the right to keep the painting of the group, sits on the other side of the sofa.  In contrast to his notable ginger-colored hair and impressive mutton-chop sideburns, he is quietly dressed in a black frock coat paired with a collared, high-cut black vest and light-grey trousers.  He has neatly folded and tied a dark-colored square scarf over his stand-up white shirt collar

IMG_2639, Marquis Charles-Alexandre de GanayMarquis Charles-Alexandre de Ganay * sits in profile in a beautifully-carved chair, showing off the brown spats buttoned over his black ankle boots.  Elegantly at his ease, he wears a black morning coat and blue, red and black plaid trousers with a white turnover collar and a light-grey patterned necktie.

[Note:  The Musée d’Orsay identifies this figure simply as Marquis de Ganay, though other sources identify him as Marquis Charles-Alexandre de Ganay (18031881), who was the father of the third sitter from the left, Count Étienne de Ganay (1833-1903).  It is not possible that the young blonde man seated in the center of Tissot’s portrait is 65 years old.]

IMG_2642, Baron Gaston de Saint-MauriceBaron Gaston de Saint-Maurice, age 37, is seated on the arm of the sofa, wearing a black silk top hat.  His black frock coat is buttoned over his high-cut white waistcoat, and the white slashes are echoed in the tidy white silk square folded into his breast pocket.  His bright blue necktie is fastened with a pearl stickpin, and he wears dark grey trousers.

IMG_2636, Prince Edmond de PolignacPrince Edmond de Polignac, at 34, lounges dreamily in the upholstered armchair, his left forefinger holding a place in his book about Louis XVII.  His flamboyant, black-and-white patterned trousers are in high style.  He wears a black morning coat, a high-cut white waistcoat with a shawl collar, and a blue necktie which may be fastened with a pearl stickpin.  He also appears to have white or grey pearl cuff links.  His grey top hat, grey gloves, and cane are stowed beneath him.

IMG_2638, Marquis Gaston de GalliffetMarquis Gaston de Galliffet, greying at the temples at 38, wears a black sack coat over slim-fitting black trousers cut from the same fabric – a sporty, fashion-forward lounge suit.  He pairs a blue-patterned necktie with his turnover shirt collar.  Is that his extinguished cigar, crushed on the floor to the left of his black leather ankle boots?  In three years, Galliffet would become known as “le marquis aux talons rouges” [Marquis Red Heels] for his brutal executions of Communards in Paris.  This was a clever reference to both his brutality in glorying in the blood of his victims as well as Galliffet’s dandyism – perhaps outré – since showy red heels had been a male fashion trend from at least 1697 to 1785, but not since.

Louis XIV (The Sun King, who ruled France from 1643 until his death in 1715) declared that only those in the royal favor were allowed the privilege of having red heels on their shoes, and by Marie Antoinette’s time, red heels had become a hated symbol of the monarchy.  British historian Philip Mansel observed that the bright heels indicated nobles did not dirty their shoes – but were “always ready to crush the enemies of the state at their feet.”  [See Louis XIV’s 1701 portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud, which features the red-heeled shoes.]

IMG_2631, Charles HaasCharles Haas, age 35, stands, framed in the high doorway with his cane held jauntily over his right shoulder.  He wears a tan coat over his brown sack coat and matching brown, high-cut waistcoat, with finely-checked light-grey trousers.  He sports brown spats buttoned over his black leather ankle boots, and he is wearing tan kid gloves.  He has loosened the high, starched, winged stand-up collar on his white shirt, and he wears a bright blue necktie fastened with a pearl stickpin.  The fluffed pocket square in the breast pocket of his sack coat lends another white note.

Haas, a Jewish art collector and critic, was one of the models for Proust’s character, Charles Swann, in In Search of Lost Time (1913).  Haas had been blackballed from the Jockey Club four times until his heroism during the Franco-Prussian War earned his entry.  He was the lover, and later the friend, of Sarah Bernhardt.  Haas’ gleaming, flared, light-grey silk top hat was custom-made for him by Delion, who made it for only a half-dozen other elite clients.

Related posts:

The high life, 1868: Tissot, his villa & The Circle of the Rue Royale

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

©  2016 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