Category Archives: Art blog

The Artist’s Closet: James Tissot’s Prop Costumes

James Tissot kept a small wardrobe of prop costumes, which he periodically supplanted, that provided visual interest to his oil paintings.  Tissot, whose father was a wholesale linen draper (a trader in fabrics and dress trimmings to retailers and exporters) and mother a hat company owner, was a virtuoso at painting every detail of women’s fashions.  He brought each flounce, pleat and nuance in the fabrics and trims to life, and he showcased his extraordinary technical skills when portraying patterns such as stripes, checks and plaids.  The gowns which adorned his models were elegant and stylish enough to make a fashion statement – though perhaps with new accessories – over a period of one to as many as five years.

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Young Women looking at Japanese articles (1869), by James Jacques Joseph Tissot. Oil on canvas, 70.5 x 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

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The Stairs (c. 1869), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.

At the height of Tissot’s success in Paris, when in his early thirties, he re-used a white, bobble-trimmed morning gown with a cape collar in The Stairs (L’escalier, c. 1869, Private Collection), Mélancolie (1869, Private Collection) and two of the three versions of Young ladies admiring Japanese objects (Jeunes femmes regardant des objets japonais, 1869; one, Private Collection, the other, Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio).

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Young Ladies Admiring Japanese Objects (1869), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikipaintings.org)

Also in 1869, Tissot re-used a brown visiting ensemble – a skirt with a pleated hem and a fur-trimmed paletôt – in The Snack (Le Goûter, Private Collection), Rêverie (1869, Private Collection), and Le rendez-vous secret (c. 1869, Private Collection), which he also used c. 1865-69  for Dans l’église (In Church, Private Collection).  In each painting, the ensemble is shown from a different angle.

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In Church (Dans l’eglise, c. 1865-69), by James Tissot.  (Image:  Wikiart.org)

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Le rendez-vous secret (c. 1869), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikimedia.org)

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On the River (1871), by James Tissot.  U.K. Government Art Collection.

In 1871, Tissot painted more than one version of On the River (A la rivière), featuring a long-sleeved white muslin gown he had used in several versions of Young Woman in a Boat (Jeune femme en bateau, 1870).

He had used the same dress, with its distinctive cuffs, in Unaccepted (1869, Private Collection).

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Young Woman in a Boat (Jeune femme en bateau, 1870), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikimedia.org)

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Unaccepted (1869), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikiart.org)

After Tissot moved to London in mid-1871, following the Franco-Prussian War and its bloody aftermath, the Paris Commune, he continued his practice of re-using eye-catching costumes for the female models in his paintings.

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Autumn on the Thames, Nuneham Courtney (c. 1871-72), by James Tissot.  (Image:  Wikiart.org)

The central figure in Autumn on the Thames, Nuneham Courtney (c. 1871-72) wears an ensemble that shows how women’s outerwear was redesigned to accommodate the new soft bustle style.

Years later, in Quarreling (c. 1874-76), Tissot showed another view of the back of this still-chic ensemble.

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Quarreling (c. 1874-76), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikiart.org)

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The Return from the Boating Trip (1873), by James Tissot.  (Image:  Wikipaintings.org)

A more notable investment was the stunning, black-and-white striped gown that features in some of Tissot’s most well-known images from the 1870s.  In The Return from the Boating Trip (1873), Tissot features a woman facing the viewer, wearing the striped gown under a black paletôt.  He used the gown again in Boarding the Yacht (1873, Private Collection) and The Captain and the Mate (1873, Private Collection), and from the back in Still on Top (c. 1874, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand) and Preparing for the Gala (c. 1874, Private Collection).  He used the dress yet again in Portsmouth Dockyard (also known as Entre les deux mon coeur balance, or How Happy I Could Be with Either, c. 1877, Tate Britain, U.K.), which he exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery from May to June 1877.

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Still on Top (c. 1874), by James Tissot.

Portsmouth Dockyard circa 1877 by James Tissot 1836-1902

Portsmouth Dockyard (How Happy I Could Be with Either), c. 1877), by James Tissot.  Tate Britain, U.K.  (Image:  Wikimedia.org)

The same cream overdress edged in fringe appears in The Captain and the Mate, Boarding the Yacht and A Visit to the Yacht (La Visite au Navire, c. 1873).

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The Captain and the Mate, (1873), by James Tissot. The Captain and the Mate (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 53.6 by 76.2 cm. Private Collection. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” © 2012

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Boarding the Yacht (1873), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikipaintings.org)

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A Visit to the Yacht (c. 1873), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikimedia.org)

Less recognizable is the low-cut, flounced pink ball gown with red trim which appears at the center of Too Early (1873) and at the center left in Hush!  The Concert (c. 1875).

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Detail, Too Early (1873), by James Tissot.  Guildhall Art Gallery, U.K.  (Image:  Lucy Paquette).

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Hush! (The Concert), c. 1875, by James Tissot.  Manchester Art Gallery, U.K.  (Image:  Wikimedia.org)

Tissot re-used a striped overdress with a column of black buttons down the center of the apron on the female figures in two versions of London Visitors (c. 1874), Waiting for the Ferry at the Falcon Tavern (c. 1874, Speed Museum of Art, Kentucky, U.S.) as well as on the seated woman on the left in The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874, Tate Britain, U.K.).

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London Visitors (c. 1874), by James Tissot.  Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, U.S.  (Image:  Wikipedia Commons)

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Detail, Waiting for the Ferry at the Falcon Tavern (c. 1874), by James Tissot.  Speed Museum of Art, Kentucky, U.S.  (Image:  Lucy Paquette)

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Detail, The Ball on Shipboard (C. 1874).  Tate Britain, U.K.  (Image:  Lucy Paquette)

The woman in Reading the News (c. 1874) wears a tailored yachting gown cut from a heavy white fabric, probably cotton, and trimmed in navy blue ribbon and soft white cotton fringe.

Tissot painted this untrained gown from two other angles in The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874).

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Reading the News (c. 1874), by James Tissot.

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Detail, The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874), Tate Britain, U.K.  (Image:  Lucy Paquette)

Notice how Tissot re-used the pink gown with the maroon trim – as well as a matching hat – on a minor figure climbing the stairs to the right in The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874) and on a seated woman shown from the back in In the Conservatory (The Rivals, c. 1875, Private Collection).  In the latter painting, he also captures the blue gown (and hat) from two different angles.

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Detail, The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874), by James Tissot.  (Image:  Lucy Paquette)

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In the Conservatory (Rivals, c. 1875), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.

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A Convalescent (c. 1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas; 30.2 by 39.06 in. (76.7 by 99.2 cm). Museums Sheffield. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot” by Lucy Paquette © 2012.

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A summery white gown trimmed with lemon-yellow satin ribbons was prominent in a half-dozen of Tissot’s oils in the mid-1870s, including A Portrait (1876, Tate Britain) [left], A Convalescent (c. 1876, Museums Sheffield), and A Passing Storm (c. 1876, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, New Brunswick).

Tissot painted the same gown, with blue ribbons instead, in A Fête Day at Brighton (c. 1875-1878, Private Collection).

In Spring (c. 1878, Private Collection) [right] and July (Speciman of a Portrait, c. 1878, Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio), the gown is modeled by Tissot’s new mistress and muse, the young divorced mother Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882).  [Note that her hair was overpainted red at some later date.]

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July (Speciman of a Portrait, c. 1878), by James Tissot.  Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, U.S.

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A Fete Day at Brighton (c. 1875-78), by James Tissot.  (Image:  Wikimedia.org)

Once Mrs. Newton began modeling for Tissot, the gowns he repeatedly depicted clearly were hers, tailored to her slender figure.  One of the loveliest garments that Tissot painted her in more than once is the exuberantly embroidered black coat she wore in October (1877, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Canada) and Mavourneen (Portrait of Kathleen Newton, 1877, Private Collection).

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Mavourneen (Portrait of Kathleen Newton, 1877). Oil on canvas, 36 in. /91.44 cm. by 20 in./50.80 cm. Photo courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” © 2012 by Lucy Paquette

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October (1877), by James Tissot.  Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, Canada.  (Image:  Wikipedia.org)

Also striking is the simple brown floral dress worn by Mrs. Newton in By the Thames at Richmond, (c. 1878/79, Private Collection), three oil versions (and one watercolor version) of La sœur aînée (The Elder Sister, c. 1881) [below, an oil version], The Garden Bench (Le banc de jardin, c. 1882, Private Collection), and by the seated woman to the right in In Full Sunlight (En plein soleil, c. 1881, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) as well as the woman in the background in A Children’s Party (c. 1881/82).

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La soeur ainee (The Elder Sister, c. 1881), by James Tissot.

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Le banc de jardin (The Garden Bench, c. 1882), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikiart.org)

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In Full Sunlight (En plein soleil, c. 1881), by James Tissot.  (Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, U.S., Open Access).

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A Children’s Party (c. 1881/82), by James Tissot.

Kathleen Newton modeled for Tissot in the same green tartan gown in Room Overlooking the Harbour, (c. 1876-78 , Private Collection), The Warrior’s Daughter (The Convalescent, c. 1878, Manchester Art Gallery, U.K.), and Richmond Bridge (c. 1878, Private Collection).  And, hidden under a vibrant shawl, the dress reappears in A Type of Beauty (Portrait of Kathleen Newton, 1880).

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Room Overlooking the Harbour (c. 1876-78), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikiart.org)

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The Warrior’s Daughter (The Convalescent, c. 1878), by James Tissot.  Manchester Art Gallery, U.K.  (Image:  Wikiart.org)

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A Type of Beauty (Portrait of Kathleen Newton, 1880), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikipedia.org).

the-terrace-of-the-trafalgar-tavern-greenwich-londonKathleen Newton is immediately recognizable in the caped greatcoat that Tissot portrayed her wearing, in numerous paintings including two versions of Waiting for the Ferry (c. 1878), The Ferry (c. 1879, Private Collection), Foreign Visitors to the Louvre (c. 1880), Departure Platform, Victoria Station (c. 1880), Goodbye” – On the Mersey (c. 1881), The Terrace of the Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich, London (c. 1878) [left], and By Water (c. 1881-82), and even after her death in The Cab Road, Victoria Station (also known as Departure Platform, Victoria Station, 1895).

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The Ferry (c. 1879), by James Tissot.

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The Cab Road, Victoria Station (also known as Departure Platform, Victoria Station, 1895), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 58.50 by 30.50 cm.

Mrs. Newton also was immortalized in the elegant black gown, with its high neck and long sleeves and slim Princess line seaming, that Tissot featured in paintings including Hide and Seek (c. 1877, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), L’Été (Summer, 1878), La dame à l’ombrelle, Mme Newton (Woman with a Parasol, Mrs. Newton, c. 1878), Musée Baron Martin, France), The Rivals (I rivali, c. 1878-79, Private Collection), Orphans (L’Orpheline, c. 1879, Private Collection),  A Quiet Afternoon (1879), The Gardener (1879), Au bord de la mer (c. 1880), and The Hammock (Le hamac, 1879, Private Collection).

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L’ete (Summer, 1878), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikipaintings.org)

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Orphans (L’Orpheline, c. 1879), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Image:  Wikiart)

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Hide and Seek (c. 1877), by James Tissot.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

This review of the costumes Tissot re-used is far from complete, since there are numerous other examples; see James Tissot, edited by Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz (© 1985).

Of course, Tissot painted many fashionable ensembles in unique images such as The Two Sisters (1863, Musée d’Orsay, France); At the Rifle Range (The Crack Shot, c. 1869, Wimpole Hall, U.K.); A Girl in an Armchair (The Convalescent, 1870, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada); The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth) (c. 1876, Tate Britain, U.K.); and Le bal (Evening, c. 1878, Musée d’Orsay, France).  But shrewd man of business that he was, he also was able to create unique images reusing fashions – the summery white gown with the yellow ribbons, Kathleen Newton’s caped greatcoat, and especially that show-stopping black-and-white striped gown – that will be associated forever with James Tissot’s work.

Related post:

 James Tissot’s Fashion Plates (1864-1878):  A Guest Post by Lucy Paquette

©  2017 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.

James Tissot (1836-1902): a brief biography by Lucy Paquette for The Victorian Web

James Tissot’s career spanned three successful periods: his early years in Paris (1859-1870), his business-like decade in London (1871-1882), and his later years in France and the Holy Land (1883-85), depicting fashionable women of Belle Époque Paris and making research trips for his series of Bible illustrations.

Born Jacques Joseph Tissot, his parents were self-made, prosperous merchants in the textile and fashion industry in the bustling seaport of Nantes. Jacques moved to Paris in 1856 to study painting and made his début at the Salon three years later, as James Tissot. Tissot and his painting, La Rencontre de Faust et de Marguerite (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 provincial young painter achieved Establishment acceptance far sooner than his struggling friends, James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), and Édouard Manet (1832-1883).

Tissot’s paintings in the Salon in 1864 reflected the trend toward capturing “modernity,” and he began to hit his stride as an artist with The Two Sisters and Portrait of Mademoiselle L.L.

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James  Jacques Joseph Tissot (c. 1867-68), by Edgar Degas. Oil on canvas, 59 5/8 x 44 in. (151.4 x 111.8 cm). (Open Access image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. Rogers Fund, 1939)

At the Paris Salon in 1866, Tissot was elected hors concours: from then on, he could exhibit any painting he wished at the annual Salon without first submitting his work to the jury’s scrutiny. The price for his pictures skyrocketed. At 30, he decided to purchase property on the most prestigious new thoroughfare in Paris, the avenue de l’Impèratrice (Empress Avenue, now avenue Foch). By late 1867 or early 1868, Tissot was living in grand style in his luxurious new villa.

In 1868, Tissot was commissioned to paint the most lucrative and elaborate painting of his career, a group portrait of “The Circle of the Rue Royale, an exclusive private club whose twelve members each paid 1,000 francs toward the painting.

In 1869, at the top of his game depicting the leisured and refined life of the Second Empire, Tissot began contributing wicked political caricatures to London’s newest Society journal, the subversive Vanity Fair, founded by Thomas Gibson Bowles (1842-1922). Tissot’s first subject was Napoléon III, whom he skewered.

When the Second Empire collapsed on September 2, 1870, Tissot’s charmed life in Paris ended. He became a sharpshooter, defending Paris in an elite unit, the Éclaireurs (Scouts) of the Seine. In the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War — the bloody Commune in mid-1871 — James Tissot fled Paris with 100 francs to his name, establishing himself in the competitive London art market by catering to the British taste. By 1873, he bought the lease on a spacious villa in St. John’s Wood, soon building an extension with a studio and huge conservatory.

Tissot had ceased to exhibit his work in the Salon in 1870 and declined Degas’s exhortation to show his work in Paris with the independent group of French artists who organized their first of eight exhibitions in Paris in 1874 and who soon became known as Impressionists. From 1872 to 1875, Tissot exhibited his work only at the Royal Academy, with works such as The Ball on Shipboard (1874). He generated a great deal of income selling prints of his paintings as well as watercolor replicas. By 1876, he had earned great wealth and lived in relative seclusion for six years with his mistress and muse, young divorcée Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854-1882).

From 1877 to 1879, Tissot exhibited his work only at the new Grosvenor Gallery, an invitation-only alternative to the Royal Academy, where artists could showcase as many works as they wished in the palatial edifice in New Bond Street. Kathleen Newton posed for several works Tissot exhibited there, including Evening (1878) and The Hammock (1879).

When Mrs. Newton died of tuberculosis in late 1882, at age 28, Tissot abandoned his St. John’s Wood home and returned to Paris, selling his London house the next year to Dutch-born painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 ñ 1912).

Tissot exerted himself to re-establish his reputation in Paris with a series of fifteen large-scale pictures called La Femme de Paris (The Parisian Woman). Painted between 1883 and 1885, they portrayed the fashionable parisienne in various incarnations using brighter, modern colors than he had in his previous work, but they were poorly received. Tissot then supposedly dedicated the remainder of his life solely to illustrating the Bible, even making repeated research trips to the Holy Land in 1886-87, 1888 and 1889. His series of 365 gouache illustrations for the Life of Christ were shown to enthusiastic crowds in Paris (1894 and 1895), London (1896) and New York (1898) after which they toured North America until 1900. They were published in 1896-97 and in several later editions. However, during this time, Tissot also executed about forty portraits of aristocratic women and other beautiful Society figures in sumptuous Belle Époque settings from the mid-1880s to the early 1890s, most often using pastels.

James Tissot died in 1902, at age 66, extremely wealthy and renowned for what was considered his great masterpiece, The Life of Christ illustrations. In his obituary in The Evening Post, Tissot was compared to William Blake, though “uniting as Blake never did, and as no other prominent artist has done, the mystical and ideal with an intense realism.”

The Victorian Web is a vast resource on literature, history and culture in the age of Victoria.

My thanks to The Victorian Web‘s Editor-in-Chief and Webmaster, George Landow, and to Associate Editor Jackie Banerjee

Bibliography

Johnson, E. D. H. “Victorian Artists and the Urban Milieu. The Victorian City: Images and Realities. H. J. Dyos and Michael Wolff. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973. Pp. 449-74.

“Joseph Tissot, Artist.” Evening Post, 64.37 (12 August 1902).

Matyjaszkiewicz, Krystyna, ed. James Tissot. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985; Barbican Art Gallery, c. 1984.

Misfeldt, Willard. “James Jacques Joseph Tissot: A Bio-Critical Study.” Ph.D. diss., Washington University. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International, 1971.

Misfeldt, Willard E. J.J. Tissot: Prints from the Gotlieb Collection. Alexandria, Virginia: Art Services International, 1991.

Misfeldt, Willard E. The Albums of James Tissot. Bowling Green: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1982.

Wentworth, Michael. James Tissot. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

Wentworth, Michael. James Tissot: Catalogue Raisonnée of his Prints. London: 1978.

Wood, Christopher. Tissot: The Life and Work of Jacques Joseph Tissot, 1836-1902. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd., 1986.

 

 

Related post:

A James Tissot Chronology, by Lucy Paquette for The Victorian Web

 

©  2017 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.

 

James Tissot’s Mourners at Auction

 

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.

The whereabouts of James Tissot’s The Widow (Une Veuve, 1868), exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1869, was for many years unknown by art historians.  It was known to the art world only because Tissot had included it in a photograph album of his work; he was one of the first painters to document his entire oeuvre using photography.

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A Widow (Une veuve, 1868), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 27 by 19.5 in. (68.5 by 49.5 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Widow was purchased during World War II at Acquavella, the New York gallery, and was hung in a mansion abroad.  In September, 1982, it was discovered, hanging behind a door, by Thilo von Watzdorf (b. 1944), Sotheby’s 19th century art specialist, who was visiting the owner to see other paintings in her collection.

Scholars enhanced interest in Tissot’s life and work during the 1980s, and dozens of Tissot oils changed hands from 1980-89.

Sotheby’s estimated The Widow would bring $150,000 to $200,000 at auction, breaking the record high for a Tissot of $148,230 set for his Return of the Prodigal Son at Christie’s, London, in 1982.

The Widow was offered in a sale of 19th century European paintings, drawings and watercolors at Sotheby’s, New York in February, 1983, bringing $ 185,000 USD/£ 121,105 GBP.

In June 1992, The Widow brought $ 277,800 USD/£ 150,000 GBP at a sale of Victorian Pictures & Watercolours at Christie’s, London.

In early 1993, Victorian art expert Christopher Wood (1941 – 2009) commented on the popularity of James Tissot’s oil paintings among Manhattan Society hostesses:  “I can think of ten to twenty Tissots within a few blocks of each other in New York.”

In New York in February of that year, Sotheby’s offered three major Tissot paintings, and Christie’s two.

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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)

The three paintings at Sotheby’s, from Tissot’s series of fifteen large-scale pictures called La Femme à Paris (The Parisian Woman) painted between 1883 and 1885, included Sans Dot (Without Dowry), which sold for $ 800,000/£ 553,824.

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Orphans (L’Orpheline, 1879), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 85 by 43 in. (216 by 109.2 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The next day, at Christie’s sale of 19th Century European Paintings, Drawings & Watercolors, Tissot’s L’Orpheline (Orphans, 1879), featuring Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882).  L’Orpheline was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1879.  Expected to bring $ 600,000- 800,000/£ 400,000- 530,000), the painting set a new record for a Tissot oil when sold for $ 2,700,000/£ 1,867,865 to art dealer David Mason, with MacConnal-Mason, a fourth generation gallery in St. James established in 1893.  Mason was acting on behalf of musical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (b. 1948), who in the next decade would collect some of Tissot’s best work – at very high prices.

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The Widower (Le veuf, c. 1877), by James Tissot. Oil on panel. 14 by 9 in. (35.56 by 22.86 cm)  Private Collection.  (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Still, there were some bargains to be found:  Lloyd Webber purchased The Widower (c. 1887), a smaller replica of the original which Tissot exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877, at Sotheby’s, London in 1994 for $ 122,587/£ 75,000.

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The Rivals (1878 – 1879), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 36.22 by 26.77 in. (92 by 68 cm). Private collection.

In October, 2014, Tissot’s The Rivals (I rivali, 1878–79) was sold at Casa d’Aste Pandolfini, Florence, Italy.  Set in Tissot’s conservatory, it depicts Kathleen Newton cast as a young widow, crocheting while taking tea with two suitors, one middle-aged and one old.  Tissot exhibited it with a number of other works at London’s Grosvenor Gallery in 1879, and that same year, it was shown at the Royal Manchester Institution’s Exhibition of Modern Paintings and Sculpture, priced at £400.  It was purchased by John Polson, of Tranent and Thornly [who also owned Tissot’s A Portrait (1876, Tate, London)], and sold by his executors at Christie’s, London in 1911.  It then belonged to Sir Edward James Harland (1831–1895), head of the Belfast shipbuilding firm of Harland and Wolff and sometime M.P. for North Belfast, of Glenfarne Hall, near Enniskillen, Ireland and Baroda House in Kensington Palace Gardens, London, where it was sold by his executors at Christie’s upon his widow’s death in 1912.  Since 1913, The Rivals has been in private collections in Milan, beginning with the Ingegnoli Collection.  It was sold by Paul Ingegnoli’s executors at Galleria Pesaro in 1933 and purchased by a Milanese private collector.  It was displayed in public again only in Milan, at the Palazzo della Permanente, La Mostra Nazionale di Pittura, “L’Arte e il Convito,” in 1957.  At the October 2014 sale, The Rivals was purchased for € 954,600 EUR (Premium) [$ 1,215,969/£ 753,715].  The Rivals, in pristine condition, was displayed at the Stair Sainty Gallery booth at TEFAF, the world’s leading art fair, in Maastricht, Netherlands, March 13-22, 2015.

Related posts:

James Tissot’s popularity boom in the 1980s

Celebrities & Millionaires Vie for Tissot’s Paintings in the 1990s

James Tissot in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection

Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series

James Tissot in Mourning

©  2017 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.

James Tissot in Mourning

An aspect of the fashionable clothing of his day that James Tissot did not fail to capture in paint was mourning.  Several of his pictures show mourning attire of the 1860s to the 1880s in great detail.

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The five daughters of Queen Victoria in mourning for Prince Albert. March 1862. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

Wearing appropriate mourning attire was one of the many rituals surrounding death in Tissot’s era, particularly in Great Britain when Queen Victoria wore mourning for forty years following the death of her consort, Prince Albert.

Numerous etiquette manuals and popular journals laid out the strict and complicated etiquette of dress that demonstrated respect for the deceased, earned sympathy for the grieving, and often displayed wealth and social status.  Different rules applied depending on the bereaved person’s relationship to the deceased person, from grandparents to cousins to servants.

The most stringent, and the most codified, rules governed the attire of widows.  As sexually experienced women who were now single, it was crucial that they observe all proprieties. (1)

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Advertising for Victorian mourning garb

Large wardrobes were necessary to outfit women for bereavements of up to two and a half years, and this was a lucrative niche for those in the trade, such as Jay’s of Regent Street, opened in 1841 as an establishment for mourning. (2)  Peter Robertson founded a mourning warehouse in Regent Street in 1865, maintaining a wide inventory, executing special orders in a day, and even traveling to the countryside for fittings at no extra charge.  In 1876, the firm introduced a style catalog from which customers could order ready-to-wear garments to be sent by mail-order. (3)

A widow’s first, or deepest mourning, was worn for a year and a day.  Custom dictated every detail of clothing, and types of fabric to be worn, during this and the following period.  For example, the bonnet for first mourning must have a veil hanging at the back, and a shorter veil worn over the face, and cambric handkerchiefs must have black borders.  Second mourning was worn for twelve months, with complex instructions as to the gradual introduction of additional freedoms, such as wearing hats again.  At the end of the second year, mourning could be put off entirely, but it was considered in better taste to wear half mourning for at least six months longer. (4)

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A Widow (Une veuve, 1868), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 27 by 19.5 in. (68.5 by 49.5 cm).  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

In 1869, James Tissot exhibited A Widow (Une veuve, 1868) at the Salon in Paris.  The low-cut, square neckline of this stylish young widow’s full-skirted black gown is filled in with a blouse of filmy black silk, trimmed at the round neckline, center front, shoulders and wrists with frothy ruffles in the same fabric.  The set-in sleeves and long and full.  The trained skirt’s high waist is tied with a wide sash and accented with a black rosette.  The pleated flounce at the hem reveals her white, lace-edged petticoat, a black silk stocking, and a squared-toed high heel with its silk bow.  Her brown hair is parted in the center, and braids behind each ear crown her head.  Wearing black lace mitts as she dreamily pursues her sewing – while showing that glimpse of ankle so tantalizing to Victorian men – it is likely she can be induced to leave off her last months of mourning.  The elderly chaperone is in mourning, while the little girl is not.

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The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 50 by 60 in. (106.6 by 152.4 cm). Musee Nationale du Chateau de Compiegne, France. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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Empress Eugénie in mourning for her son, 1880.  (Photo:  Wikipedia.org)

Tissot’s double portrait The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874) depicts the exiled French Empress (1826 – 1920), living outside London after the collapse of the Second Empire, and her son, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, who would be killed in 1879, at age 23, in the Zulu War.  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.  The Empress is in her first year of mourning following the death of her husband in January, 1873.

Her black gown consists of a high-necked, button-up bodice with long, tight-fitting, set-in sleeves over a white blouse, and a straight, trained skirt with a black draped tablier (apron) overskirt.  Her round black cap, so like her son’s, is trimmed in white, and a long black veil trails from its back.

 

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The Widower (Le veuf, 1876), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 116.3 by 75.5 cm.  Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia.  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

Tissot exhibited The Widower (1876) at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877.  He portrays this widower with a lumpy, crushed hat of soft felt, wearing a sack coat.  The bereaved man appears so much sadder than if he were dressed in a dapper frock coat and top hat.

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Orphans (L’Orpheline, 1879), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 85 by 43 in. (216 by 109.2 cm).  Private Collection.  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

Orphans (L’Orpheline, 1879), features Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882) and was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1879.  Mrs. Newton’s form-fitting mourning gown was the very latest style – the new cuirasse bodice and Princess line seaming created by couturier Charles Worth.  Fitted over a white blouse with lace showing at the wrists under the long, slim, set-in sleeves, it is a different style of gown altogether from previous Victorian dresses.  It has no waist seam:  the seams run continuously from the shoulder to the hem, and the shape is created by sewing long, fitted fabric pieces together.  Note the center front of her gown, a vertical section of pleated bands.  The Princess seam created a tall, slender look.  It depended on the curaisse bodice, a tightly-laced, boned corset that encased the torso, waist, hips and thighs.  The result was a dramatic narrowing of the silhouette of women’s fashion in the late 1870s.

Mrs. Newton wears black lace mitts, a peaked bonnet embellished with black feathers, and a heavy black scarf around her neck.  She wears a corsage of lavender and white chrysanthemums, but no jewelry except for the wedding band visible on the third finger of her left hand.  It is likely that she is being represented as a widow in her secondary mourning, as lavender was considered a color appropriate for that stage.

The little girl [modeled by Kathleen Newton’s niece, Lilian Hervey (1875 – 1952)] also wears mourning – though, oddly, she seems dressed for different weather entirely in her short-sleeved, button-down black dress over a white chemise.  She has bare arms and legs and wears white socks with black strapped shoes.

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The Rivals (I rivali, 1878-79), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.

Tissot’s The Rivals (I rivali, 1878–79) is set in the conservatory of his home at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road in St. John’s Wood, London.  It casts his mistress, young divorcée Kathleen Newton, as a young widow, crocheting while taking tea with two suitors, one middle-aged and one old.  Mrs. Newton is wearing the same black gown she did in L’Orpheline (Orphans, 1879).  In this picture, Tissot paints her so close to the end of her mourning that she is entertaining men – and so nonchalant about it that she slouches in her fur-lined, wicker armchair while focusing on her needlework!

Tissot exhibited this painting at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1879.  Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882, at age 28, at Tissot’s house with her sister, Polly Hervey, at her side (according to the death register).  Tissot draped the coffin in purple velvet and prayed beside it for hours.  Immediately after the funeral on November 14, at the Church of Our Lady in Lisson Grove, St. John’s Wood, Tissot abandoned his home and returned to Paris.

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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)

Tissot exerted himself to re-establish his reputation in Paris, which he had fled following the bloody aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, with a series of fifteen large-scale pictures called La Femme à Paris (The Parisian Woman).  Painted between 1883 and 1885, they portrayed the fashionable parisienne in various incarnations using brighter, modern colors than he had in his previous work.

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Women’s mourning bonnet in hard crape, c. 1880.  Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  (Photo:  Wikipedia.org)

The elegant young widow in Sans dot (Without Dowry, 1883-85) takes the air in the gardens in Versailles wearing a buttoned-up, high-necked black bodice with three-quarter, eighteenth-century-style Sabot sleeves that fit tightly before flaring into a deep ruffle below the elbow.  Black gloves cover her hands and forearms.  She wears a black draped tablier (apron) overskirt over a straight, pleated underskirt in sable-colored silk.  Her high-crowned, black straw bonnet features a large black bow over her fringe, echoed by a soft bow tied neatly under her chin.  Because her bonnet is so elaborately beribboned and has no veil, we know she is past her first year of mourning (when the appropriate bonnet was simple, like the one shown at the right) and is now in secondary mourning.  The widow maintains a wistful expression and a demure posture before her work basket and a book while her elderly chaperone, who is wearing mourning and a bonnet with a veil, is absorbed in the newspaper.  She appears completely aware of her charms – and of the fact that her lack of a dowry seems unlikely to affect her ability to attract another husband.

Related posts:

James Tissot’s Fashion Plates (1864-1878): A Guest Post for Mimi Matthews by Lucy Paquette

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

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

Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series

REFERENCE WORKS:

(1)  Sidell, Misty White, “A time when the wrong outfit could lead to disgrace and scandal: New Costume Institute exhibit to explore the strict world of Victorian mourning fashions,” Daily Mail, (July 1, 2014); http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2677118/A-time-wrong-outfit-lead-disgrace-scandal-New-Costume-Institute-exhibit-explore-strict-world-Victorian-mourning-fashions.html (Accessed: 1/19/2017)

(2)  “Victorian Mourning Etiquette,” http://www.tchevalier.com/fallingangels/bckgrnd/mourning/ (Accessed: 1/19/2017)

(3)  Hansen, Viveka, “Jet & Dressed in Black – the Victorian Period (B 20),” TEXTILIS (October 12, 2016); https://textilis.net/ (Accessed: 1/19/2017)

(4)  Robinson, Nugent. Collier’s Cyclopedia of Social and Commercial Information.  New York:  F. Collier, 1882.  (Accessed: 1/19/2017)

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2017.  All rights reserved.

CH377762The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, brings Tissot’s world from 1870 to 1879 alive in a story of war, art, Society glamour, love, scandal, and tragedy.

Illustrated with 17 stunning, high-resolution fine art images in full color

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

(295 pages; ISBN (ePub):  978-0-615-68267-9).  See http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

NOTE:  If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

Tissot’s Study for the family of the Marquis de Miramon (1865)

James Tissot executed his oil paintings with meticulous attention to detail, a characteristic of his temperament as well as his academic training in Paris, and he often painted a small preparatory study to work out his composition, palette, and use of light.

In fact, when the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut acquired a small painting in 1941, thought to be the work of an Impressionist painter, it later was recognized as a study for Tissot’s monumental 1865 family portrait, “The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their Children,” which had remained in the family until 2006.  That year, it was acquired by the Musée d’Orsay, and the first time it was exhibited publicly since 1866 was with the blockbuster exhibition, Impressionism, Fashion & Modernity, which opened at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, from September 25, 2012 to January 20, 2013, traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York from February 26 through May 27 and closed at the Art Institute of Chicago from June 26 to September 22, 2013.

Tissot’s study has been displayed by the Wadsworth Atheneum only since the museum’s recent renovation.

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Study for the Family of the Marquis de Miramon (1865), by James Tissot. Oil on paper adhered to panel. 13.25 by 16.5 in. (33.7 by 42 cm). The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT. (Photo copyright Lucy Paquette, 2016).

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

A comparison of the study with the finished painting gives us insight into Tissot’s working methods.

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The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their Children (1865), by James Tissot. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo copyright Lucy Paquette, copyright 2015)

Tissot, then 29 years old, made the study with a general idea of the composition, the setting, the poses and costumes of his subjects, and his palette of greys, blues, and white enlivened with touches of red.

In the study, as in the completed portrait, the tall and elegant Marquise stands on the left of the canvas holding her daughter, Geneviève, and the Marquis is seated to their right in a casual pose.

img_5060-copyright-lucy-paquette-2016-2img_2578-copyright-lucy-paquette-2015-4The most noticeable difference in the finished portrait is that it is considerable lighter, brighter and more lively than the study, which is overall quite dark and stilted.  Tissot achieved this effect partly through depicting more open sky through the trees, especially in the center of the painting and behind the heads of the Marquise and Geneviève.  Their two faces, turned toward the viewer, are now closer together, providing a highly lit focal point.

And though the Marquise wears a black bolero in the finished portrait, rather than the blue bodice in the study, Geneviève’s figure is much brighter, and the Marquise’s magnificent silk skirt glows and shimmers with light.  Tissot decided to extend the final canvas out to the left to accommodate the full sweep of her train.

img_5062-copyright-lucy-paquette-2016-2img_2578-copyright-lucy-paquette-2015-5The Marquis’ dark brown lounge suit in the study is replaced with a lighter grey one — and the red stockings Tissot initially considered for color were replaced by tall black leather riding boots.  Color instead is provided by the red flower blossoms at the center of the composition, and the tasteful pink rose in the Marquis’ lapel.  Tissot exchanged the Marquis’ broad blue tie for a more subtle spot of a darker blue underscoring his change from a three-quarters view of his subject to a full face portrait.  The crisp white cuffs of the Marquis’ shirt provide another brightening touch in the final composition.

img_0525-copyright-lucy-paquette-2016-2As Tissot placed the Marquise, Geneviève, and the Marquis in his study, he clearly struggled with where to place the couple’s son, Léon.  The study shows that he planned to paint Léon prominently in the center of the family, and initially, Léon stands in a studied pose reminiscent of an adult male in a formal eighteenth-century aristocratic portrait.  However, this strikes a false note in a picture meant to be a modern, informal, English-style portrait of an affectionate family.  Tissot also struggled with how to enliven the lower right corner of the composition.  In the study, he fills that spot with a highly-patterned blanket and a bright red touch over a wooden ladder-back chair.

img_2578-copyright-lucy-paquette-2015-3In the finished painting, Tissot solved both artistic challenges by placing Léon in the lower right corner — in the chair.  The red diced hose that Léon wears in the study have been exchanged for black diced hose, and behind him is a bright red plaid blanket.  Further visual interest is provided in that corner of the picture by the ornate table cropped at the extreme right edge.

The family’s large black dog has been relocated from its central position with Léon in the study to a more natural pose at Léon’s feet; Tissot used the dog, in the end, to enliven the central spot at the bottom of the canvas.  In a decision that finally unifies the subjects in a pleasing composition, Tissot changed the Marquis’ pose so that his crossed legs lead the eye down his long black boots to the strong black diagonal of the reclining dog.

Léon’s pose is now more natural:  he sits on his right leg while dangling his left one off the seat of the chair that he grasps with his hand.  While his mother, sister and father gaze directly at the viewer, Léon is very much a little boy whose attention is elsewhere.  The Marquis has now taken center place in the family group, and his figure is visually united with his wife’s by the halved pear, part of which is angled toward him while the knife handle is angled toward her.

The red touches that Tissot initially placed in the center and lower right of the composition still were used in the center and lower right in the finished portrait, but in different ways.  And notice how the dog’s pink tongue provides the color between the two areas in both the study and the final painting.

Tissot’s study reveals the effort and creative decisions he made to produce one of his most polished and exquisite works.

His care with this composition, and his considerable technical skill in executing it, was reflected in all his work.  The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their children was exhibited in Paris, at the Cercle de l’Union Artistique, in 1866, and entered him into the lucrative market for Society portraiture after a decade of living and learning in the French capitol.  Although at least one critic did not like the overall grey palette of this picture, and felt that the portrayal of the little boy lacked impact, the Marquis de Miramon next commissioned Tissot to paint an individual portrait of his beautiful wife – and, two years later, a group portrait with eleven of his fellow club members that provided an even greater compositional challenge:  The Circle of the Rue Royale.

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: Wikimedia.org)

Related posts:

Ready and waiting: Tissot’s entrée, 1865

From Princess to Plutocrat: Tissot’s Patrons

Tissot in the new millenium: Museum Acquisitions

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

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

James Tissot’s Fashion Plates (1864-1878): A Guest Post for Mimi Matthews by Lucy Paquette

CH377762© 2016 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.

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.

A Closer Look: The Circus Lover (The Amateur Circus), by James Tissot

The Circus Lover,  one of fifteen oil paintings in James Tissot’s series of contemporary life called “La femme à Paris” (“Women of Paris”), was first exhibited in Paris in 1885 as Les femmes de sport and was displayed in London in 1886 as The Amateur Circus.

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

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

The setting for The Circus Lover is the Molier Circus in Paris, a “high-life circus” opened in 1880 in which the amateur performers were members of the aristocracy.  The London exhibition catalogue denigrated the events as “fancies of a bored generation.”  The man on the trapeze wearing red is the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, one of the oldest titles of the French nobility.  People of beauty and fashion attended the circus and mingled with the performers during the interval.

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Photo by R. Zuercher, © 2016

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

The Circus Lover was included in the blockbuster exhibition, “Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity,” in Paris, New York and Chicago, and I saw it then.  But I recently had a chance to study it at length in Boston, and I have to say, it is an odd picture.  It’s garish and crammed with characters and mini-dramas, but it is amusing and definitely compelling.  Here are some close-ups I took for those of you who can’t get to the Museum of Fine Arts to see Tissot’s beautifully painted details.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

The face makeup and expression on the clown with the Union Jack costume are denoted with thick smudges of paint, while the woman’s bracelet, the dainty edging of her glove, and the fabric of her gown are rendered in finer strokes.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

The blonde in the pink gown pulls us into the scene with her direct gaze.  Her gown, with its lacy neckline and green accents, is skillfully observed.  Behind her, fashionable men in silk top hats are depicted as individuals with distinctive features, and they are alive and busily interacting with each other.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

The women sitting in the tier above them are also depicted as individuals, each with very different features, expressions, and ensembles.  This photo also shows two of my favorite details – the lively profiles of the woman and the man at the right.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

Notice the contrasting textures of the man’s gleaming silk top hat, his soft sideburns, and the wrinkled fabric of his coat.  And, above him, a woman whose face is obscured wears an elegant straw hat trimmed in black ribbons and profuse bows.  The green patterned fabric of her gown distinguishes her figure from the man, the woman in front of her in the brown patterned dress, and the woman in pink.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

The acrobat in blue sits on the trapeze on his thighs rather than his bottom – look how the bar of the swing presses into his flesh.  His crossed legs form an inverted triangle, which frames the face of the lady in the red hat.  And, on the left, look at the comical expressions on the guards at the entrance to the ring.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

The old gent with the white whiskers seems to disapprove of what he sees, but the younger men on the right are clearly amused by something, as are at least two of the ladies seated below them.  The two brown gowns are the closest thing to duplicate styles in the whole painting – notice how very different each of the women’s hats are.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

The acrobat in red – the Duc de la Rochefoucauld – is sitting directly on his buttocks, which hang rather amusingly over the heads of two bored gentlemen seen behind him.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

The Duc de la Rochefoucauld was said to have “the biceps of Hercules,” and his red and white shoes are striking.  But in the whole scene, the only person who appears to be looking at him is the lady with the large red fan.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

These men in the uppermost tier appear to be checking out the fashionable beauties seated immediately below them, while the man with the opera glasses seems to be focused on the woman in the ivory-colored bonnet seen just behind the Duc de la Rochefoucauld’s right foot.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

I love the expressions on the faces of these two friends.  They are not impressed.  Head to head with impassivity, they are either exchanging acerbic comments on the whole affair, or on the women near them – or they just want to get out of there!

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

You can feel the heat and the sense of the crowd pressing on you, in all its boredom and restlessness, as audience members anticipate mingling during – or after – the interval.

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The Circus Lover, by James Tissot. Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

Though Tissot’s “Women of Paris” series did not meet with critical or popular acclaim, The Circus Lover is yet another of his paintings that opened a window into his world and let posterity in.

Related posts:

Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series

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

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “The Artists’ Wives”

Tissot in the U.S.:  New England

© 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 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “The Fan”

James Tissot painted The Fan about 1875 in London, where he had been living in the four years after the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune.

Following the bloody end to the Commune, Tissot arrived in London in May or June, 1871, with only a hundred francs.  By 1873, he was living in a comfortable suburban home at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road in St. John’s Wood, where he built an extension with a studio and conservatory in 1875 that doubled the size of the house.

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The Fan (c. 1875), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 15 by 19 in. (38.10 by 48.26 cm). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In his new conservatory, Tissot painted some of his loveliest images, including The Fan, which celebrates the continuing fascination with japonisme during this era.  An auburn-haired beauty wearing a loose, pale yellow dressing gown leans against an elegant length of embroidered silk draped over the back of a large upholstered armchair as she fans herself in a conservatory.  Behind her is an exuberant russet-colored plant in a cloisonné jardinière, perched on an Oriental table of carved rosewood, and the breezy fronds of a potted palm.  Her gown is trimmed in white pleated ruffles, and she wears the black velvet ribbon around her neck that was de rigueur for fashionable women in 1875.  A yellow flower dangles from her thick, coiled braids, echoing the golden motifs in the Japanese cloth.  The aqua-colored fan painted with Oriental images is crisp and cool, while that bright red edge on the embroidery accents the entire picture as if underscoring the heat.  The painting is sheer beauty; there is no narrative nor, as in most of Tissot’s paintings, any psychological tension.  Yet it is an arresting image.

The Fan 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.”

Jerdein sold The Fan to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut.

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The Wadsworth, Hartford, Connecticut. Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

The Wadsworth Atheneum was founded in 1842 by Daniel Wadsworth (1771–1848), an artistic member of an old and wealthy family.

Now comprising five connected buildings, the Wadsworth began in the distinctive Gothic Revival building of 1844, designed by Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis.

It is the largest art museum in the state and is noted for its collections of European Baroque art, French and American Impressionist paintings, Hudson River School landscapes and much more – including Tissot’s wonderful study for his elegant The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their Children, a masterpiece purchased from the family by the Musée d’Orsay in 2006.

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Photo by R. Zuercher, © 2016

I’ve tried to see The Fan for the past few years, but the museum was undergoing renovations.  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.  After that and through the first two months of 2014, The Fan was on display at the Denver Art Museum’s exhibition, “Court to Café: Three Centuries of French Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum.”

Finally, I was able to see this painting, and it is lush and lovely.  See it if you can, but if you can’t manage the trip, here are some close-up photos for you to enjoy.

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The Fan (c. 1875), by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

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The Fan (c. 1875), by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

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The Fan (c. 1875), by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

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The Fan (c. 1875), by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

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The Fan (c. 1875), by James Tissot (detail). Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

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The Fan (c. 1875), by James Tissot. Photo by Lucy Paquette © 2016.

Related posts:

“The three wonders of the world”: Tissot’s japonisme,1864-67

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

Tissot in the Conservatory

Tissot in the U.S.:  New England

© 2016 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.

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.