Category Archives: Art blog

James Tissot: Portraits of the Artist

Bingham_-_James_Tissot_01We know so little of James Tissot (1836 – 1902) outside of his work; his personal papers were destroyed, and he had no disciples to carry on and burnish his reputation.

But there are several photographs of him, and his self-portraits.

This photograph, made by Robert Jefferson Bingham (1825 – 1870), was made shortly after Tissot arrived in Paris, in 1855 at age 19.

Bingham, an English photographer, showed nineteen photographs at The Great Exhibition of 1851, and also made photographs of the Exposition Universelle of 1855 in Paris.  In 1857, Bingham moved to Paris and opened an atelier in the artistic quarter of Nouvelle Athènes.  So it is likely that Tissot was 20 or 21 in this photo, a dapper and ambitious young art student from the provinces quickly establishing himself in the competitive art world of the capital.  He appears considerably more sophisticated than he presents himself in a self-portrait as a monk a few years later, c. 1859.

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A photograph of James Tissot was made about 1865 by Étienne Carjat (1828 –1906), a French journalist, caricaturist and photographer who co-founded the magazine Le Diogène and founded the review Le Boulevard.  But Carjat is best known for his numerous portraits and caricatures of Parisian political, literary and artistic figures.  In 1860, he opened a photography studio at 56 rue Laffitte, which he operated for 20 years.  Carjat received a medal for his photographs in the Salon of 1863.  While he did not achieve the fame of Nadar, he did capture the personalities of his sitters, who included Gioacchino Rossini, Alexandre Dumas (père), Emile Zola, Charles Baudelaire, Sarah Bernhardt, Gustave Courbet and Victor Hugo.  Carjat was a friend of Henri Fantin-Latour, and it was probably through him that he met James McNeill Whistler in Paris in April 1863.  Around 1865, Carjat made two cartes-de-visite photographs of Whistler, who had been friends with Tissot since about 1857.

In Carjat’s photograph, Tissot is about 29 years old.  He was earning 70,000 francs a year as an easel painter, and he produced another self-portrait at this time.

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Self portrait (1865), by James Tissot, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA, USA. 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

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 1867-68, Tissot’s friend Edgar Degas painted him, and this detail from a carte-de-visite photograph reflects his appearance at the time.  Tissot was described as having “a shock of jet-black hair, a drooping Mongolian mustache, an excellent tailor, and a small private fortune.”

 

Tissot, by Degas-1868

Portrait of James Jacques Joseph Tissot (c. 1867-68), by Edgar Degas.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  Rogers Fund, 1939.  (Photo:  Open Access).

Tissot, ARTtissot, Spartacus

After winning the right – at age 30 – to exhibit anything he wished at the Salons, and busy with commissions from his aristocratic patrons, Tissot did not need to kowtow to the critics.  He began painting light-hearted, sexually suggestive pictures, which would have been shocking in a contemporary context. He safely set them in the years of the French Directory (1795 to 1799), as if they depicted behaviors of a bygone time. One critic at the time observed that Tissot was dapper and personable, but thought him a little pretentious and a less-than-great artist “because he did what he wanted to do and as he wished to do it.” Tissot, having made his own way to the top of his profession, probably was a little smug in his success.

Tissot by Degas, 17916784

Study for James Jacques Joseph Tissot (c. 1867-68), by Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas.  Prepared chalk on tan wove paper. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Cesar M. de Hauke.  (Photo:  Open Access)

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.  [See James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71.]  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.

He 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.  But Tissot and Edouard Manet travelled to Venice together in the fall of 1874, and Tissot bought Manet’s Blue Venice on March 24, 1875 for 2,500 francs.  Manet badly needed the income.  Tissot hung the painting in his home in St. John’s Wood, London, and tried to interest English dealers in Manet’s work.  [For more on how Tissot tried to help his friends, see James Tissot the Collector:  His works by Degas, Manet & Pissarro.]

A few of his contemporaries described him at this time.  Berthe Morisot, in an 1875 letter to her sister, Edma Pontillon, wrote, “We went to see Tissot, who does very pretty things that he sells at high prices; he is living like a king.  We dined there.  He is very nice, a very good fellow, though a little vulgar.  We are on the best of terms; I paid him many compliments, and he really deserves them.”  During the same trip, Morisot wrote to her mother, “[Tissot] is turning out excellent pictures.  He sells for as much as 300,000 francs at a time.  What do you think of his success in London?   He was very amiable, and complimented me although he has probably never seen any of my work.”

371px-Franz_von_Teck, Duke of Teck

Francis, Duke of Teck (1837 – 1900)

The same year, painter Giuseppe De Nittis wrote to his wife, Léontine, “I saw Tissot at the club, he was very nice, very friendly.”

Alan S. Cole wrote in his diary, on November 16, 1875, “Dined with Jimmy [Whistler]: Tissot, A[lbert] Moore and Captain Crabb.  Lovely blue and white china – and capital small dinner. General conversation and ideas on art unfettered by principles.”

British painter Louise Jopling (1843 – 1933) wrote, “James Tissot was a charming man, very handsome, extraordinarily like the Duke [then, Prince] of Teck.  He was always well groomed, and had nothing of artistic carelessness either in his dress or demeanor…he was very hospitable, and delightful were the dinners he gave.”

James_Tissot_-_Photo_010, at easel in 40s

By 1876, James Tissot again 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).  [See James Tissot Domesticated and James Tissot’s Model and Muse, Kathleen Newton.]  In this photograph, Tissot is in his forties, painting in his studio.  French writer and critic Edmond de Goncourt (1822 – 1896) described him as having “a large, unintelligent skull and the eyes of a boiled fish.”  It was in late 1874 that Goncourt wrote in his journal, “Tissot, that plagiarist painter, has had the greatest success in England.  Was it not his idea, this ingenious exploiter of English idiocy, to have a studio with a waiting room, where, at all times, there is iced champagne at the disposal of visitors, and around the studio, a garden where, all day long, one can see a footman in silk stockings brushing and shining the shrubbery leaves?”  Nevertheless, Goncourt relied on Tissot to illustrate Renée Mauperin, a novel written with his brother Jules (published in 1884).  Kathleen Newton modeled for the heroine.

In the photograph below, Tissot poses for Waiting for the Ferry (c. 1878) in his garden at Grove End Road with Kathleen Newton and her children, Muriel Violet Newton and Cecil Newton.

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Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis at Tissot’s St. John’s Wood home in November, 1882, and he immediately moved back to his Paris villa.  He tried, and failed, to recapture his early success before embarking on an ambitious new project.  In 1885-86, he made his first trip to Palestine to research his illustrated Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In the above photograph, c. 1890, Tissot was in his mid-fifties.  His self-portrait in watercolor, below, was painted around the same time.

portrait-of-the-pilgrim-1894

Portrait of the Pilgrim (1886-1896), by James Tissot.  Self-portrait in watercolor and graphite.  Brooklyn Museum, New York.

In 1896, Tissot exhibited his complete Life of Christ series in London.  His La Vie de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ was published in France, with the artist receiving a million francs for reproduction rights.

He embarked on his third trip to Palestine to begin an illustrated Old Testament (which would be published in 1904, two years after his death).  On the ship, English artist George Percy Jacomb-Hood (1857-1929) encountered Tissot and found him “a very neatly dressed, elegant figure, with a grey military moustache and beard, [who] always appeared on deck gloved and groomed as if for the boulevard.”

400px-James_Tissot_-_Photo_017, old man leaning against building

James Tissot’s father died in 1888, leaving him the Château de Buillon, near Besançon in eastern France.  During his remaining years, he lived partly in Paris and partly at the Château, improving the building and grounds.  The photograph above was made of Tissot around 1898.  He must have been experimenting with poses for his self-portrait of that year (below, right).

446px-James_Tissot_-_Photo_02, old man leaning on tree       Tissot_self_detail, 1898 leaning on tree

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.”

An early biographer who knew him briefly, Georges Bastard (1881 – 1939), wrote that Tissot “was as reserved as the cut of his coat.”  No bon mots have been recorded, nor anecdotes by contemporaries who may have encountered Tissot at Second Empire receptions or balls – just a bit of jealous carping about his success.  While certainly not a reticent man, James Tissot could not have been a gregarious one.  He was determined to succeed on his own terms, and he did.  His work continues to fascinate us, and it alone must speak for him.

Related posts:

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

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

James Tissot the Collector:  His works by Degas, Manet & Pissarro

Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?

Tissot’s Romances

©  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 Model and Muse, Kathleen Newton

Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854 – 1882) first appeared in James Tissot’s paintings in 1876.  Who was she?  All we have to know her by are a few biographical facts researched by Tissot scholar Willard E. Misfeldt (b. 1930) and others, and dozens of paintings of Kathleen Newton by James Tissot.

According to Dr. Misfeldt, Kathleen Irene Kelly was born in May or June of 1854 in Agra, India.  Her mother, Flora W. Boyd, passed away, and she and her brother, Frederick, and elder sister, Mary Pauline (“Polly,” 1851/52 – 1896), were the responsibility of their father, Charles Frederick Kelly (1810 – 1885).  Mr. Kelly had been employed at the accountant’s office of the British East India Company in Agra from age 21 or 22 until his retirement to Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, in 1866.  At some point around mid-1860, the family began to use Ashburnham as a middle name.  Kathleen and Mary Pauline were sent back to England to be educated at Gumley House Convent School, Isleworth.  When Kathleen was sixteen, a marriage was arranged for her, and she returned to India to marry Dr. Isaac Newton, a surgeon in the Indian civil service.

Dr. Misfeldt skirts the issue of what happened next, but after the wedding on January 3, 1871, the young bride is said to have followed the advice of the local priest and confessed to her new husband that while travelling on the ship to India, she had been involved with a Captain Palliser.  She was sent back to England, gave birth to a daughter, Muriel Violet Mary Newton, in Conisbrough on December 20, and was officially divorced (decree nisi) by December 30.  At some point, she moved in with her sister Polly, by then married and living with her two young daughters, Belle and Lilian, at 6 Hill Road, St. John’s Wood, London.  There Kathleen gave birth to a son, Cecil George Newton, on March 21, 1876.  (It is said that Polly’s husband, Mr. Hervey, was in the Indian civil service.)

James Tissot had left Paris following the bloody Commune in 1871, and by early 1873, he had bought the lease on a medium-sized, two-storey Queen Anne-style villa, built of red brick with white Portland stone dressing, at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood.

The residents of the comfortable suburban homes around the Regent’s Park and the district of St. John’s Wood, west of the park, were merchants, bankers and lawyers.  Tissot’s house was set in a large and private garden separating him from the horse traffic, omnibuses and pedestrians on their way to the park or the still-new Underground Railway station nearby.  Kathleen lived just around the corner, and legend has it that she met Tissot while mailing a letter at a postbox.

WAK41966

On the Thames (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.5 by 46.5 in. (72.5 by 118 cm). Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, Wakefield, UK. 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.

In my previous blog post, James Tissot’s Models à la Mode, I indicated that the shadowy face in the center of The Thames (1876), was likely Tissot’s first painting featuring Kathleen Newton, and that she seems to be the model for one of the figures in Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877) as well.

Kathleen modeled for dozens of Tissot’s paintings; soon, he was painting her almost exclusively.  These pictures form a charming chronicle of their years together.  They also portray her rapid evolution from a young beauty travelling with her artist-lover, to a busy, beloved mother, then to a woman struggling with tuberculosis.

Room Overlooking the Harbour, the-athenaeum

In Room Overlooking the Harbor (c. 1876-78) Kathleen is on holiday with Tissot.  He captured her going about her business while an older man (who could be a servant accompanying the couple) gamely models as well.

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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

In 1877, Tissot captured Kathleen’s youthful, glowingly healthy beauty in Mavourneen.

By the Thames at Richmond

In By the Thames at Richmond (c. 1878), a scene based on a photograph that surely was staged, a man (modeled by Tissot or perhaps Kathleen’s brother, Frederick Kelly) is writing “I love you” on the ground while Kathleen reacts with a smile.  The girl is likely Kathleen’s daughter, Muriel Violet, who would have been about seven years old at this time.

mrs-newton-with-a-child-by-a-pool

Study for “Mrs. Newton with a Child by a Pool” (c. 1877-78). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA.

In Mrs. Newton with a Child by a Pool (c. 1877-78), Kathleen plays with her son, Cecil, by the ornamental pool in the garden of Tissot’s house in St. John’s Wood.

A Winter's Walk

Kathleen is a lovely 24-year-old in A Winter’s Walk (Promenade dans la neige , c. 1878).

Mrs. Newton with an Umbrella

She is still fresh-faced at 25 in Mrs. Newton with an Umbrella (c. 1879, Musée Baron Martin, Gray, France).

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At the Louvre (c. 1879-80), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Photo:  Wikiart.org)

In 1879, the couple traveled to Paris, where Tissot used the Louvre as a setting for several paintings featuring Kathleen in her caped greatcoat.

Waiting for the Ferry, c 1878 (with Kathleen)

Waiting for the Ferry (c. 1878), by James Tissot.

Tissot_and_Newton photo, ferry

Kathleen Newton with James Tissot in his garden at Grove End Road.  The children are Muriel Violet Newton and Cecil Newton.  Photo c. 1878.  (Wikimedia.org)

Between about 1878 and 1881, Tissot produced a number of paintings featuring Kathleen as a traveler.  [See The Art of Waiting, by James Tissot, Tissot and Degas visit the Louvre, 1879 and Victorians on the Move, by James Tissot.]  Tissot had painted Kathleen Newton so often in the half-dozen years they spent together that her face became stylized.

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The Dreamer (or, Summer Evening, c. 1882), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

In the final two years of Kathleen’s life, Tissot captured her looking tired and pale, with dark shadows under her eyes, or bedridden.  [See James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death.]  The Victorian Web features a study of Mrs. Newton asleep in a conservatory chair, courtesy of Peter Nahum Ltd, London, dated 1881-82, and the Musée Baron Martin in Gray, France has a painting from the same time period, Mrs. Newton Resting on a Chaise-longue, in which she is propped up on two pillows and looks very ill.

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.

In the six years that Kathleen Newton lived with James Tissot and modeled for him, he painted few other female models besides the girl in Croquet (c. 1878).  He produced only about two major portraits during the years Kathleen lived with him, Algernon Moses Marsden (1877), and Portrait of Mrs Catherine Smith Gill and Two of her Children (1877, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.)

Immediately after the funeral on November 14, at the Church of Our Lady in Lisson Grove, St. John’s Wood, Tissot returned to Paris.  There, he exerted himself to re-establish his reputation in Paris 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.  Exhibited at the Galerie Sedelmeyer, from April 19 to June 15, 1885, as “Quinze Tableaux sur la Femme à Paris,” the pictures were poorly received.  A critic for La Vie Parisienne complained that the women in the series were “always the same Englishwoman” – some say the faces all resemble Kathleen Newton.  [See Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series.]

Tissot’s relationship with Kathleen Newton was evidently the only successful romance of his life.  [See Tissot’s Romances.]

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The Apparition (1885), by James Tissot.  (Wikipaintings.org)

He tried to contact her through a series of séances.  On May 20, 1885, at a séance in London, Tissot recognized the female of two spirits who appeared as Kathleen, and he asked her to kiss him.  The spirit is said to have done so, several times, with “lips of fire.”  Then she shook hands with Tissot and disappeared.  He made this image of the vision to commemorate their reunion.

After his death in 1902, James Tissot and his work, and Kathleen Newton, were largely forgotten.

By 1930, few, if any, of Tissot’s contemporaries remained to share recollections of the artist.  The only biographical material on Tissot publicly available was a twenty-five page journal article published in France in 1906.

Kathleen’s daughter, Muriel Violet, died in 1933, and Mrs. Newton’s identity was forgotten – except by her son, Cecil.  In 1933, the first exhibition of Tissot’s work was held at the Leicester Galleries in London in 1933: ” ‘In the Seventies’ – An Exhibition of Paintings by James Tissot.”  A visitor to this exhibition, a man in his late fifties, stood before one of the paintings of a beautiful woman and declared, “That was my mother,” then walked out.  The woman, who appeared in a number of Tissot’s paintings between 1876 and 1882, and whose identity remained unknown into the next decade, was referred to as “la Mystérieuse” – the Mystery Woman.

The first biography was published in London in 1936:  Vulgar Society: The Romantic Career of James Tissot, 1836-1902, by novelist and fashion historian James Laver (1899 –1975).  Laver may have taken some poetic license when he wrote that Tissot kept his mistress hidden away in his home in St. John’s Wood and that “she led almost the life of a prisoner,” “as if she had been a beauty of the harem.”

In 1946, a London journalist, Marita Ross, published a plea for information regarding “La Mystérieuse,” Tissot’s unidentified mistress.  But Lilian Hervey, then 71, replied that this was her aunt, Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854 – 1882), and she had original photographs of Mrs. Newton with James Tissot.  [See James Tissot in the 1940s: La Mystérieuse is identified.]

By the late 1960s, Willard Misfeldt was researching James Tissot and Kathleen Newton.

IMG_5038, shot to use on blog

In 2014, I visited James Tissot’s one-time home in St. John’s Wood and Kathleen Newton’s grave.  [See  A visit to James Tissot’s house & Kathleen Newton’s grave.]

I was able to make arrangements for a private tour of Tissot’s home thanks to the kindness of Irish author Patricia O’Reilly.  Patricia imagined Kathleen Newton’s life in A Type of Beauty: The Story of Kathleen Newton (1854-1882), © 2010 (cover photo, below left, courtesy of the author).  Click here to read it – and click here to read how I’ve imagined Kathleen’s life in The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot ), © 2012!

A Type of Beauty, Patricia O'Reilly                        CH377762

Related posts:

James Tissot’s house at St. John’s Wood, London

James Tissot Domesticated

Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?

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

Kathleen Newton by James Tissot: eight auctioned oil paintings

©  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 Models à la Mode

James Tissot often reused models, both male and female, in his paintings.  While he varied their poses to capture different angles of their faces, several of his models are recognizable from picture to picture within a few years’ time.  In some cases, subsequent paintings seem based on sketches for earlier works.

The brunette with the languid eyelids in The Two Sisters (1863, figure a) also appears in Portrait of Mademoiselle L.L., (1864, figure b) and Spring (1865, figure c).  Tissot painted these pictures in Paris, in the waning years of the Second Empire.

a Image -- James_Tissot_-_Two_Sisters, cropped face    b portrait-of-mlle-l-l-young-lady-in-a-red-jacket-1864, cropped face     c  Spring, the-athenaeum, cropped faceA

After Tissot moved to London, following the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune, he painted another model, a pale woman with strawberry-blonde hair, in Les Adieux (The Farewells, 1871, figure a), the woman on the left in Bad News (The Parting, 1872, figure b), and a variant of that painting, Tea (1872, figure c).

a bag-4346-les-adieux-bridgeman-art-8-7-12, cropped face      b 925px-James_Tissot_-_Bad_News, cropped face      c tea-time, wiki art, cropped face

By 1873, Tissot befriended a ship’s captain, John Freebody, and his young wife, Margaret Freebody (née Kennedy), as well as her brother, Captain Lumley Kennedy.  All three modeled for him that year in The Last Evening, The Captain and the Mate, and Boarding the Yacht (see James Tissot, ed. Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz, 1985).

In these delightful paintings, the cast of characters includes an old man with eccentric white whiskers, and a young girl who also appears in A Visit to the Yacht (c. 1873).  [See For sale: A Visit to the Yacht, c. 1873, by James Tissot.]

James_Tissot_-_The_Last_Evening, wiki

The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot.  Margaret (Kennedy) Freebody and her brother, Captain Lumley Kennedy, posed for the figures in the chairs on the right.  Margaret’s husband, Captain Freebody, is the man with the red beard.

Boarding_the_Yacht, wiki

Boarding the Yacht (1873), by James Tissot.  Margaret (Kennedy) Freebody modeled for the woman on the right, and her sister for the woman on the left.

The_Captain_and_the_Mate, wiki

The Captain and the Mate (1873), by James Tissot.  Margaret (Kennedy) Freebody sits on the left with her husband, Captain John Freebody, and her brother, Captain Lumley Kennedy is in the center.

The_Captain's_Daughter, wiki

The Captain’s Daughter (1873), by James Tissot.  The woman is portrayed by Margaret (Kennedy) Freebody.

Tissot relied on a new model for Waiting for the Ferry at the Falcon Tavern (1874, figure a) and London Visitors (c. 1874, figure b).

a Waiting for the Ferry, Speed Museum version, the-athenaeum, cropped woman face             b london-visitors, wikiart, cropped woman face

Tissot featured another lovely model, with an exquisite pointed nose, in Reading the News (1874, figure a), Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76, figure b) and Still on Top (c. 1874, figure c).

a  612px-James_Tissot_-_Reading_the_News, cropped woman      b James_Tissot_-_Chrysanthemums, cropped      c James_Tissot_-_Still_on_Top_-_Google_Art_Project, cropped

A model with a soft fringe appears in Tissot’s A Passing Storm (c. 1876, figure a) and A Convalescent (c. 1876, figure b).

a  912px-James_Tissot_-_A_Passing_Storm, cropped        b  sag-65029-a-convalescent-bridgeman-art-8-7-12, cropped girl face

The blonde woman in Autumn on the Thames, Nuneham Courtney (c. 1871-72, figure a) reappears years later, in Quarreling (c. 1874-76, figure b).  Tissot also featured her in The Bunch of Lilacs (c. 1875, figure c).

I believe the model for these pictures was Alice, British painter Louise Jopling’s lovely blonde sister, who had attracted Tissot’s interest.  Louise (1843–1933) wrote of Tissot in her 1925 autobiography, “He admired my sister Alice very much, and he asked her to sit to him, in the pretty house in St. John’s Wood.”  In this photograph of Louise and her sisters, look at the blonde on the left, in the back, and compare for yourself!

a  autumn-on-the-thames, cropped face         b quarrelling, cropped face         c The Bunch of Lilacs, the-athenaeum, cropped face

That does make me wonder if Louise Jopling [at that time, the recently widowed Mrs. Frank Romer] modeled for Tissot.  She wrote in her autobiography, “James Tissot was a charming man, very handsome, extraordinarily like the Duke [then, Prince] of Teck. He was always well groomed, and had nothing of artistic carelessness either in his dress or demeanor.”  She thought Tissot was “extraordinarily clever,” and wrote that one day, before she was married (in 1874, to J.E. Millais’ friend, Joe Jopling), Tissot had begged his friend Ferdinand Heilbuth (1826 – 1889) to go to Louise’s studio “and try to induce us both – my sister Alice and I – to come and spend the day at Greenwich, where he was painting his charming pictures of scenes by the river Thames.  I was to bring my sketching materials.  It happened that I had promised Joe to give him a sitting for my portrait, but it was much too delightful a project not to be accepted with fervor.  I wired to Joe:  ‘Called out of town on business.’  I might have, with more truth, wired:  ‘Called out of town on pleasure,’ but sketching with two such good artists was indeed good business for me, so I salved my conscience.  But I was found out:  Joe heard of our day’s outing, probably at that mart of gossip, a man’s Club.”  [Louise Jopling is a character in my book, The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot – see my short (2:42 min.) video, “Louise Jopling and James Tissot”.]

Here is the model in Tissot’s Return from the Boating Party (1873, figure a), and Louise Jopling as Millais painted her in 1879 at age 36 (figure b).  It does seem, however, that Louise would have mentioned in her autobiography that Tissot had painted her.

a the-return-from-the-boating-trip, wikiart, cropped woman face               b 1200px-Louise_Jane_Jopling_(née_Goode,_later_Rowe)_by_Sir_John_Everett_Millais,_1st_Bt, wikimedia, cropped face

Tissot used an older, white-haired woman as a model in Hush! (The Concert, 1875, figure a), A Convalescent (c. 1876, figure b), and also at the far left in Holyday (c 1876, figure c).

a  Hush, The Concert, the-athenaeum, cropped matron        b sag-65029-a-convalescent-bridgeman-art-8-7-12, cropped matron face         c Holyday, the-athenaeum, cropped matron

Tissot painted a striking model with dark hair and strong eyebrows in A Portrait (1876, figure a), and again in a blue gown in The Gallery of the H.M.S. Calcutta (Portsmouth, c. 1876, figure b).  She reappears in Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877, figure c).

a portrait-of-miss-lloyd, cropped face        b The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth) c.1876 by James Tissot 1836-1902         c Portsmouth Dockyard circa 1877 by James Tissot 1836-1902

One of Tissot’s most often-reused models is the old gentleman with the white whiskers.  He appears in Reading the News (1874, figure a), in the center of The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874, figure b), and at the left in Hush! (The Concert, 1875, figure c), as well as in The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent, c. 1878, figure d).

a 612px-James_Tissot_-_Reading_the_News, cropped man    b Ball on Shipboard, the-athenaeum, cropped old man face    c Hush, The Concert, the-athenaeum, cropped old man face  d the-warrior-s-daughter-or-the-convalescent, cropped

Another distinctive male model who reappears in Tissot’s paintings is the man with a long ginger beard in London Visitors (c. 1874, figure a) and at the far left in Holyday (c. 1876, figure b).  He also is featured in The Widower (1876, figure c).

a London Visitors, the-athenaeum, cropped man face         b Holyday, the-athenaeum, cropped man face          c James_Tissot_-_The_Widower_-_Google_Art_Project, cropped

Of course, after she moved into his home in St. John’s Wood about 1876, Tissot’s main model until her premature death was young mother and divorcée, Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854 – 1882).

Kathleen, at 22, had a four-year-old daughter and a son born on March 21, 1876.  [See Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?]  Being Roman Catholic, Kathleen could not remarry, but she lived with Tissot in his house in St. John’s Wood, until her death from tuberculosis in 1882.

Kathleen appeared in dozens of Tissot’s major works, including Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877, figure a), The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent, c. 1878, figure b), and Orphans (c. 1879, figure c).

a  Portsmouth Dockyard circa 1877 by James Tissot 1836-1902         b the-warrior-s-daughter-or-the-convalescent, cropped Kathleen Newton        c  orphan, cropped Kathleen face

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A Passing Storm (detail)

Incidentally, Tissot scholar Michael Wentworth (1938 – 2002), in his comprehensive biography James Tissot (1984), identified the model in A Passing Storm (c. 1876) as Kathleen Newton, but if you compare the features of this model to Kathleen’s, it is obvious that the two women are different.

Based on my research and this study of the faces of Tissot’s various models, I believe Kathleen Newton’s first appearance in his work was in Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877).

Portsmouth Dockyard circa 1877 by James Tissot 1836-1902

Which means that the shadowy face in the center of The Thames (1876), would have been Kathleen’s as well.

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The Thames (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas; 28.5 by 46.5 in. (72.5 by 118 cm). Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, Wakefield, UK. 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.

Here she is in The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent, c. 1878).

the-warrior-s-daughter-or-the-convalescent

And here is Kathleen in Orphans (c. 1879).  Her face and slender figure would grace his work for only a few more years.

orphan

©  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.

A Proper British Prop: Tissot’s Tartan Blanket

Among the recurring props that James Tissot used in his oil paintings, including the tiger skin, the leopard fur, certain striking gowns, and numerous wicker chairs, were fringed woolen blankets, most often one in a red tartan.

The first use he made of a blanket as a device to add color and visual interest to his composition was in The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their children (1865):  in this case, a fringed red and white checked picnic cloth, or table cover, is draped over the stone wall behind the French aristocrat’s young son, Léon.

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The Marquis and Marquise de Miramon and their children (1865), by James Tissot.  Musee d’Orsay, Paris.  www.the-athenaeum.org

After Tissot emigrated to London in mid-1871, rebuilding his career following the Franco-Prussian War and the bloody Commune uprising in Paris, one of the first oils he painted and exhibited in this new market featured a subdued brown and white striped lap rug, appropriate to the palette, in Gentleman in a Railway Carriage (1872).

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Gentleman in a Railway Carriage (1872), by James Tissot.  The Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts.  (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Tissot, ever the shrewd man of business, understood that he now had to paint for an entirely new clientele.  While British aristocrats did not purchase the Frenchman’s paintings, plenty of newly-wealthy businessmen sought his work as they enhanced their social status by building art collections.  Tissot had to appeal to Victorian tastes, in an empire ruled by a Queen whose beloved retreat was Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire.

Soon, he began to feature Scottish tartan blankets in his paintings.  He used the same fringed tartan blanket in The Captain and the Mate (1873) and The Last Evening (1873).  In these pictures as well as A Visit to the Yacht (1873), the blanket is a prop that provides an enlivening splash of red in the composition and sets off the adjacent gown.

In The Captain’s Daughter (1873), a black and white checked blanket is draped over the wooden railing under the woman’s arm, providing visual interest between the water and her dark floral dress.

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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 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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The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.3 by 40.6 in. (72 by 103 cm). The Guildhall Art Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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

The Captain's Daughter

The Captain’s Daughter (1873), by James Tissot.  www.the-athenaeum.org

Tissot then begins to use this prop with some psychological sophistication.  In The Return from the Boating Trip (1873) and Waiting at the Station, Willesden Junction (1874), the tartan blanket not only provides the red necessary to the composition, but it adds a note of modern self-reliance to the women holding it.  With the blanket draped over their arms, Tissot depicts them providing for their own needs and ensuring their own comfortable mobility.

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The Return from the Boating Trip (1873), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.

Willesden Junction

Waiting at the Station (Willesden Junction, 1874), by James Tissot.  Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand.  www.the-athenaeum.org

Later in the decade, Tissot uses a red tartan blanket as a fashion statement.  In The Thames (c. 1876), the woman on the left has covered her gown quite elegantly with it.

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The Thames (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.5 by 46.5 in. (72.5 by 118 cm). Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, Wakefield, UK. 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.

In Portsmouth Dockyard (1877), the woman on the right has wrapped Tissot’s tartan blanket over her shoulders and torso; it echoes the color and pattern of the Highlander’s uniform and hose.  The woman on the left carries a black and white blanket that matches her ensemble.

Portsmouth Dockyard

Portsmouth Dockyard (How Happy I Could be with Either, c. 1877), by James Tissot.  Tate Britain, London.  www.the-athenaeum.org

By the end of the decade, Tissot uses two different tartan blankets, one wrapped around a woman and another swaddling her baby, in a painting with an overall red palette that evokes a palpable sense of danger and excitement, The Emigrants (c. 1879).

James_Tissot_-_Emigrants

The Emigrants (c. 1879), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 15.5 by 7 in. (39.4 by 17.8 cm). Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

After a decade of using a traveling blanket to add interest to various oil paintings, Tissot reverted to relying on it for a splash of color, as in By Water (Waiting at Dockside, c. 1881-82).

Waiting at Dockside

By Water (Waiting at Dockside, c. 1881-82), by James Tissot.

Just as he painted women’s fashions so skillfully, James Tissot showcased his extraordinary technical skills when portraying patterns such as stripes, checks and plaids.  He made efficient use of the red tartan blanket prop for color, visual interest, psychological insight, and a clever appeal to his British clients.

Related posts:

Victorians on the Move, by James Tissot

Tissot in the U.S.: The Speed Museum, Kentucky

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

CH377762©  2017 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.

Wicker: James Tissot’s Modern Prop Furniture

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may recall this story:

the-dreamer-summer-evening

Study for The Dreamer (or, Summer Evening, c. 1876), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.  (Photo: Wikiart.org)

James Tissot painted Kathleen Newton in the study above [called The Dreamer] about 1876, selling it for £206 as Rêverie at the Dudley Gallery in London. In the 1920s, a man bought it “for a few pounds.”  In 1984, the man’s daughter brought the picture to a valuation day at Woodbridge Community Hall in Suffolk, England.  She had no idea what it was, but said, “It has been on the wall for as long as I can remember.  My dad always used to poke around the sale rooms and this just came home.  I can’t remember when.  The story always was that he bought it because it reminded him of my mother, they both had the same auburn colored hair.  Nobody knew anything about it in the family.  We had it re-framed, and while it was at the framer’s somebody offered us £600 for it and so we thought we should get it looked at professionally.”  A Sotheby’s representative at the valuation day said, “I remember turning round to say something to my secretary and when I turned back again this gentleman had put the picture down on the table in front of me.  I remember taking one look at it and thinking to myself, “My God, a Tissot.”

What I haven’t mentioned is the way the Sotheby’s representative, Mark Armstrong, recognized the painting as a work by French painter James Tissot.  Can you guess?  No, it was not the familiar face of Tissot’s mistress and muse, the young divorcée Kathleen Newton (1854–1882).  Mr. Armstrong asked the gentleman who owned the painting if he realized what it was, and when the man shook his head, he explained, “Certain things are always recognizable in these pictures, like the wicker chair for instance.  Then when I saw [Tissot’s] signature and monogram, I honestly just could not believe it.  It’s the kind of thing that makes these days come alive.”

Wicker, or woven, furniture was a new consumer good by James Tissot’s adult years.

Although wicker furniture first arrived in America on the Mayflower, production of wicker furniture in the United States began in the 1840s, after the Chinese opened a number of treaty ports to foreign trade.  Clipper ships from China brought cargo to America with raw cane rattan used as dunnage to secure it and prevent shifting.  This raw cane would then be discarded at the docks.  In 1844, an enterprising young grocer, Cyrus Wakefield (1811 – 1873), pondered uses for the large quantities of abandoned rattan at Constitution Wharf in Boston.  He realized how flexible the cane was, and after bending the rattan to produce a chair, he saw the potential of the material.

Wakefield soon began to import his own clipper ships full of rattan, which was in great demand by basket and furniture makers.  By 1851, he started making furniture from woven rattan, and it became popular.

In 1855, Wakefield and his wife left Boston and moved to South Reading [renamed Wakefield in 1868], Massachusetts, where he established the Wakefield Rattan Company.  He continued to sell the imported rattan throughout the United States and to experiment with techniques to construct wicker furniture.  Bending oak or hickory into frames wrapped with split cane, the flowing shapes were filled with ornate rattan patterns.

Previously, the inner core, or the reed, of the rattan plant had been discarded, but Cyrus Wakefield and others began experimenting with the use of reed.  In 1856, civil unrest in China resulted in a cutoff of the rattan supply, which led to more experimentation using the reed; it was discovered that reed but was porous and could be painted or stained.

The Wakefield Rattan Company expanded during the 1860s and virtually cornered the market on hand-woven furniture.  But toward the end of the decade, a loom was created that sped production of the furniture by automatically weaving and installing the chair seats.

In the early 1870’s, products manufactured by the Wakefield Rattan Company included “chairs for ladies, gentlemen and children, cradle, cribs, tete-a-tete and sofas,” as well as matting, baskets, baby carriages, window shades, brooms, clothes beaters, hoops for ladies’ skirts, and many other items.  [Click here to see an advertisement c. 1872.]

Tissot moved to London in mid-1871, in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and the Bloody Paris Commune.  In 1873, he bought the lease on a medium-sized, two-storey Queen Anne-style villa, built of red brick with white Portland stone dressing, at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, in the leafy suburb of St. John’s Wood.  The house was set in a large and private garden separating him from the horse traffic, omnibuses and pedestrians on their way to the Regent’s Park or the still-new Underground Railway station nearby.

In 1873, Tissot featured the same curvaceous bentwood rocking chair with a woven-cane seat and back in two of his paintings, A Visit to the Yacht and The Last Evening.

James-Jacques-Joseph_Tissot_s_A_Visit_to_the_Yacht,_Sotheby's.

A Visit to the Yacht (c. 1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 by 21 in. (87.6 by 56 cm).  (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

1280px-James_Tissot_-_The_Last_Evening

The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.3 by 40.6 in. (72 by 103 cm). The Guildhall Art Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

limperatrice_eugenie_et_son_fils_-_1878_-_james_tissot

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)

About 1874, in the face of rumors that Tissot was a Communard, he painted a dual portrait of the exiled French empress and her son, which seemingly refutes the charge.  In The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst, Tissot depicts the exiled royals risen from lightweight wicker readings chairs.  In the autumnal scene, the portable chairs strike an ephemeral note.

In 1875, Tissot built an extension with a studio and huge conservatory that doubled the size of his house.

in-the-conservatory

In the Conservatory (The Rivals, c. 1875), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 15 1/8 by 20 1/8 in. (38.4 by 51.1 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

In In the Conservatory (The Rivals, c. 1875), Tissot features the back of a substantial, circular roll-back wicker armchair, with its elegant herringbone pattern shown in full detail.

 

The Wakefield Rattan Company participated in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, which was attended by nearly a quarter of the population of the United States.  Since middle-class American families were just beginning to move to suburban and country homes, there was a demand for informal furniture for porches, summer homes and even parlors. [Click here to read more on the Wakefield Rattan Company.]

From the 1870s through the late 1890s, the Wakefield Rattan Company faced fierce competition from another furniture maker, Heywood Brothers Company of Gardner, Massachusetts.  Both companies offered increasingly original and elaborate designs with outstanding craftsmanship, and wicker furniture, which was sturdy, lightweight, and elegant, became increasingly popular.

Wicker furniture also became fashionable in Victorian England, in part because it was considered sanitary.  Unlike upholstered furniture, wicker was easy to clean and did not collect dust.

Tissot designed his garden with a blend of English-style flower beds as well as plantings familiar to him from French parks.  He added an ornamental pond and a cast iron colonnade, copied from the Parc Monceau in Paris, which ran in a curve from the south side of the pool towards the house.  A similar curved colonnade ran from the east end of the pool.

The bay window of Tissot’s new studio overlooked this idyllic landscape, which he enjoyed and painted repeatedly.

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The 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.

In Tissot’s The Convalescent (c. 1876), two women model in a grouping of three comfortable wicker armchairs by his garden pool; the third chair is reserved slyly with a man’s hat and cane.

The convalescing woman’s chair, with its squared back, round base, flat armrests and vertical supports, is so similar to the chairs in The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial that they either were purchased from the same source, or possibly owned by Tissot and transported to Chislehurst for the portrait setting.

James_Tissot_-_Holyday

Holyday (c. 1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas. Tate Britain, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In Holyday (c. 1876), the elderly chaperone minds her own business in a wicker chair to the left while a youthful group picnics at the side of Tissot’s garden pool.

James_Tissot_-_The_Letter

The Letter (c. 1878), by James Tissot. 27 by 40 in. (68.58 by 101.60 cm). National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

A lightweight wicker dining set is shown in the back of this garden in The Letter (c. 1878), said to be set in the Dutch Gardens of Holland House in London.

Here’s the interesting thing – or one of them, anyway:  Tissot’s career spanned forty-three years, from 1859, when the 23-year-old launched his career in Paris, competing with established artists by exhibiting five entries in the Salon, until his death in 1902, while he still was working on an illustrated Old Testament (published in 1904).  Yet the wicker chair(s) so associated with his work appeared only in his paintings during nine of the years within his London period, 1871 to 1882, which overlaps the six years, 1876 to 1882, when Kathleen Newton lived with him in his elegant St. John’s Wood villa in London.

In those nine years, Tissot painted fewer than two dozen pictures that include a wicker armchair, chaise, or stool.

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Kathleen Newton in an Armchair (1878), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 12 by 17 in. (30.5 by 43.2 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In Kathleen Newton in an Armchair (1878), Tissot features a wicker reading chair in the corner of his studio, overlooking his garden.  With its flat armrests, this chair is similar in design to the chairs in The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874) and The Convalescent (c. 1876), but this chair has a slightly arched back, unlike the squared back of the other chairs.

the-rivals-800x600

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

In Rivals (1878-1879), Tissot’s wicker reading chair has been moved to the conservatory so Mrs. Newton may lounge while modeling.  The older gentleman sits in a wicker chair as well.

The wicker pieces offered an interesting textural contrast within Tissot’s compositions.

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Hide and Seek (1877), by James Tissot. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot” by Lucy Paquette © 2012

In Hide and Seek (1877), Kathleen Newton reads the paper while lounging in the wicker reading chair in the corner of his elegant studio, where French doors open into the garden.

display_image, Soeur

La sœur aînée (The Elder Sister), c. 1881, by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 17.5 by 8 in. (44.45 by 20.32 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: http://www.the-athenaeum.org/)

The lacy, lightweight wicker chair in La sœur aînée (The Elder Sister, c. 1881), easily could be moved in and out of the house.

James Tissot, one of the first artists to use photography as the basis for his oil paintings, and who kept a photographic record of all his works, was a thoroughly modern man.  The wicker furniture that he owned and portrayed in his paintings is, like his depiction of current female and male fashions, one more sign of his contemporary style.

kathleen-newton-at-the-piano

Kathleen Newton at the Piano (c. 1881), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

In this oil study, Kathleen Newton at the Piano (c. 1881), she is seated on a wicker stool covered in a heavy cloth.

When Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882, at age 28, Tissot returned to Paris after the funeral the following week.  Within a year, he sold his London villa to the Dutch-born painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912).

Never again did James Tissot’s paintings feature the graceful wicker furniture of his leisured life in London.

Related posts:

Tissot in the Conservatory

For sale:  In the Conservatory (Rivals), c. 1875, by James Tissot

James Tissot’s house at St. John’s Wood, London

James Tissot Domesticated

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

©  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.

 

Tissot’s Tiger Skin: A Prominent Prop

Since today is April Fool’s Day – and my birthday – let’s have a lighthearted look at a prop that James Tissot often used, a tiger skin.  

In 1877, Tissot draped a tiger skin over a wide upholstered armchair to underscore the masculinity and dynamism of his sometime art dealer, Algernon Moses Marsden (1847 – 1920).  [Marsden actually deserved to be portrayed with a rat skin, as he was a gambler, bankrupt and rogue who foisted his debts on his father and abandoned his wife and ten children.  See Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?]

james_tissot_-_algeron_moses_marsden

Algernon Moses Marsden (1877), by James Tissot.  Private collection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other Victorian artists, notably Tissot’s friend Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912) as well as Alma-Tadema’s protégé John William Godward (1861 – 1922), featured tiger skins as an exotic element in sensual paintings of lovely women.

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Cherries (1873), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Private Collection. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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The Priestess of Bacchus (1885-89), by John Maler Collier (1850-1934). (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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The Sweet Siesta of a Summer Day (1891), by John William Godward. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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Dolce Far Niente (1897), by John William Godward. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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Eighty and Eighteen (1898), by John William Godward. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

James Tissot, so technically skilled and refined, almost never presented open sensuality in his work, especially during the years he painted in England (1871–1882).  He used the tiger skin in his paintings for textural complexity and to illustrate the lushness of the Victorian leisured life.  After Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854–1882), moved into his home, he added a leopard skin rug to his prop collection.

In Hide and Seek (c. 1877), Tissot featured both the leopard skin and the tiger skin, among many textures including the Oriental porcelain, the two mirrors, the leather-armed chaise, the polished wooden occasional table, and the round enameled table in the foreground.

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Hide and Seek (c. 1877), by James Tissot. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot” by Lucy Paquette © 2012

In Reading a Story (c. 1878-79), the leopard skin is tossed over a bench in Tissot’s garden:

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Reading a Story (c. 1878-79), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Image: Wikiart.org)

In 1880, it lines Mrs. Newton’s chair in A Type of Beauty.

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

The leopard skin is draped neatly over the garden bench in pictures from 1881 to 1882:

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Quiet (c. 1881), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Image: Wikiart.org)

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

Tissot also shows the leopard skin used as the family picnic rug, c. 1881.

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

How prim Tissot, the Frenchman, seems compared to the Dutch-born Alma-Tadema!

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The Tepidarium (1881), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

By 1882, enjoying his domestic life with Kathleen Newton and her two children, Tissot’s tiger skin is emblematic of the exuberance of their days – which would end with Kathleen’s death of tuberculosis in November.

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Le Petit Nemrod (A Little Nimrod), c. 1882, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 ½ by 55 3/5 in. (110.5 by 141.3 cm). Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’archéologie, Besançon, France. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

But while James Tissot did not use his tiger skin in erotic images, he did use it to create one with an improving moral message.

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Triumph of Will: The Challenge (1877), by James Tissot. (Image: Wikiart.org)

Even in La femme préhistorique (The Prehistoric Woman), Tissot shuns the opportunity to paint an erotic semi-nude primitive; he veers off with his own idiosyncratic approach.

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La femme prehistorique, by James Tissot. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

But, then, at least Tissot never inflicted this type of image upon posterity:

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Autumn Flowers, by Jehan Georges Vibert (1840 – 1902). (Image: Wikiart.org)

Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me, and please enjoy other posts on my blog as well as my novel about James Tissot, The Hammock!

Previous April Fool’s Day posts:

The Missing Tissot Nudes

Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?

Tissot and his Friends Clown Around

Happy Hour with James Tissot

©  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.

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.