Category Archives: Art History

James Tissot’s Modern Paintings in Victorian England

French painter James Tissot emigrated from Paris to London in mid-1871, in the chaos after the Franco-Prussian War and bloody Commune, and became successful in Victorian England within a few years.   In 1873, he sold Too Early through London art dealer William Agnew (1825 – 1910) – who specialized in “high-class modern paintings” – for 1,050 guineas.  Agnew purchased The Ball on Shipboard from Tissot the following year, and in 1875, purchased Hush! directly from the wall of the Royal Academy by for 1,200 guineas.

What made Tissot’s paintings “modern”?  How were his pictures of everyday life different from those painted by his English contemporaries?

James Tissot (1836 – 1902), an astute businessman keenly aware of buyers’ preferences, painted many subjects that his English contemporaries did.  But while Victorian painters like George Dunlop Leslie (1835 – 1921) depicted genteel women behaving well – docile and proper – Tissot was a bit daring.  Like others, he also painted a woman (his mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton) reading – but his model is a bit of a rebel, wearing eye makeup and a gown with a revealing neckline, improper as a day dress.  In Her Favorite Pastime, Leslie presents us with a straightforward rendering of a pretty and sedate woman focused on her book.  In Tissot’s Quiet, Kathleen is sitting – quite indecorously – with her legs crossed, somewhat slumped forward, against a racy leopard skin.  Yet, the image is of a loving mother, the exhausted girl leaning lovingly against her, and the resting dog underscores the domesticity of the scene while the expansive green lawn behind them indicates the wealth of the household.

        File:James Tissot - Quiet.jpg

Left:  Her Favorite Pastime (1864), by George Dunlop Leslie

Right:  Quiet (c. 1881), by James Tissot

While his English contemporaries depicted the ideal of contented domestic life, with family members often in stiffly posed compositions, Tissot’s showed a casual reality.  George Goodwin Kilburne’s The Piano Lesson relies on the single child obediently taking instruction and a symmetrical composition to show us the orderliness of this family’s conduct.  In Kathleen Newton at the Piano, Tissot gives us a peek behind the curtain dividing the formal front parlor from the informal room behind, where Kathleen, her two children, and an older niece huddle affectionately near her as she plays for them.

                Kathleen Newton at the Piano, c.1881 - James Tissot

Left:  The Piano Lesson (1871), by George Goodwin Kilburne

Right:  Kathleen Newton at the Piano (c. 1881), by James Tissot

In A Mother’s Darling, Kilburne depicts the girl as a little woman; in The Garden Bench, Kathleen Newton’s son, daughter and niece are children behaving spontaneously.

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Left:  A Mother’s Darling (1869), by George Goodwin Kilburne

Right:  The Garden Bench (c. 1882), by James Tissot

The four pictures of afternoon tea below, two by Leslie and two by Tissot, illustrate Leslie’s literal manner and Tissot’s rather racy take on this British ritual.  While Leslie’s lone ladies are being served by a housemaid and dreaming wistfully into the distance, Tissot’s social beings are using the occasion to flirt and sum up available suitors.

         

Left:  Afternoon Tea (1865), by George Dunlop Leslie

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

       

Left:  Five o’Clock Tea (c. 1874), by George Dunlop Leslie

Right:  The Rivals (I rivali, 1878–79), by James Tissot

Below, in Alice in Wonderland, Leslie depicts an iconic family moment as a mother stimulates the imagination of her daughter by reading aloud to her on a stiff sofa, attired in a proper day dress with a bustle.  The girl, in her tidy dress, apron and black stockings, has set aside her doll to listen, her dreamy face against her mother’s bosom showing the effect of the story on her imagination.  In Reading a Story, Tissot depicts a similar scene in a natural setting, with a mother (Kathleen Newton) informally flipping pages on a comfortably-padded garden bench with a little girl who, though engaged, looks a bit fidgety as well as windblown from outdoor play.

        

Left:  Alice in Wonderland (1879), by George Dunlop Leslie

Right:  Reading a Story (c. 1878-79), by James Tissot

Tissot did not portray Victorian poverty, or even attempt to document the reality of the era’s social ills.  In the images below, Philip Hermogenes Calderon (1833 – 1898) and George Adolphus Storey (1834 – 1919) depict destitute orphans in an attempt at realism colored with sentimentality.  Tissot’s upper-class orphan, accompanied by the expensively-dressed woman modeled by Kathleen Newton, is somber, but sentimental in an essentially decorative way.

File:Philip Hermogenes Calderon - The Orphans.jpg         File:James Tissot - Orphan.jpg

Above left:  Orphans (1870), by Philip Hermogenes Calderon

Above right:  L’Orpheline (1879), by James Tissot

Right:  Orphans (1879), by George Adolphus Storey

 

 

The pictures below perfectly capture the difference between Tissot’s “modern” paintings and those of his Victorian peers.

         The Letter, c.1876 - c.1878 - James Tissot

Above left:  Considering a Reply (c. 1860), by George Dunlop Leslie

Above right:  The Letter (c. 1878), by James Tissot

Right:  Reading the Letter (1885), by Thomas Benjamin Kennington

While Thomas Benjamin Kennington (1856 – 1916) depicts a woman reading a letter, and George Dunlop Leslie shows us a woman who has read a letter and now must consider how to reply, Tissot gives us a woman who, having read her letter, rips it to shreds that billow away in the wind.  Kennington’s and Dunlop’s compositions are simple, but Tissot provides an air of tantalizing mystery around his subject:  the woman stalks through an elegant, landscaped garden while the remnants of her luncheon, or tea, are being cleared by a footman.  Who is she?  We are drawn into her drama, and are all the more curious about the contents of her letter.
File:James Tissot - Hide and Seek.jpg

James Tissot, unlike his Victorian peers, did not portray women gathering flowers or gazing at themselves in a mirror, or brides, or women sewing or dancing.

But for a cozy scene of a Victorian lady  minding her children, he gave us Hide and Seek (left, c. 1877), in which Kathleen Newton lounges in an upholstered armchair, absorbed in a newspaper in a corner of his opulent studio while her children and those of her sister scamper about.

While Tissot used the brighter palette of the Impressionists in France, his perspective can be ascribed to his nationality only partially:  his subject matter and his innate humor were unique.

Related posts:

The Stars of Victorian Painting: Auction Prices

Victorians on the Move, by James Tissot

The James Tissot Tour of Victorian England

French Painter James Tissot’s British Clients: Rising Industrialists, by Lucy Paquette for The Victorian Web

James Tissot and the Pre-Raphaelites

James Tissot’s Model and Muse, Kathleen Newton

ICH377762f 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/B009P5RYV

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James Tissot and the Pre-Raphaelites

There is very little documentation on James Tissot’s personality, behavior, and habits, including his interaction with the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  We can only extrapolate their relationships based on a few known facts.

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Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation, 1849-50), by D. G. Rossetti (Photo:  Wikipedia.org)

The leading members of the P.R.B., all ambitious art students in their early 20s, were William Holman Hunt (1827–1910), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), and John Everett Millais (1829–1896), and the rebellious aim of their secret society was to create a new British art.  Rather than paint mannered historical or dull genre scenes, they wanted to return to the sincerity, minute detail, and luminous palette of medieval and early Renaissance painting.  They began with an attempt to revive religious art but quickly resorted to literary subject matter.

The first P.R.B. works appeared at the Royal Academy Exhibition in 1849, when James Tissot (1836 – 1902) was 13 years old.  In six years, he moved to Paris, and became an Academically-trained painter, favoring medieval subjects.  He was greatly influenced by the work of the Belgian painter Hendrik Leys (1815  1869).  Leys’ painting, The Trental Mass of Berthal de Haze – replete with numerous characters enacting a medieval drama against a minutely-detailed architectural background  won a gold medal at the 1855 Paris International Exhibition.

Promenade dans la Neige

A Walk in the Snow, by James Tissot

In 1862, Tissot traveled to London, where the first exhibition of his work was not at the Royal Academy but the International Exhibition.  Tissot showed one of his début paintings from the 1859 Salon, giving his medieval picture the English title, A Walk in the Snow.

He also must have met Britain’s most popular painter, John Everett Millais, who had moved to London with his wife, Effie.  With their growing family to provide for, Millais found a steady source of income drawing illustrations, for periodicals such as Once a Week and The Cornhill Magazine as well as Tennyson’s Poems (1857) and Anthony Trollope’s novel Framley Parsonage (1860).

At the 1862 London International Exhibition, the retired first British Minister to Japan, Sir Rutherford Alcock (1809-1897) showed his collection at his Japanese Pavilion.  It was a sensation.  With the signing of the first commercial treaty between Japan and America in 1854, more than 200 years of Japanese seclusion came to an end.   In Paris, a host of import shops cropped up, and like Alcock, those with the means could collect exotic treasures – handcrafted pottery, lacquer, bamboo and ivory – that seemed even more exquisite compared to the Industrial Revolution’s mass-produced wares.

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Young Women Looking at Japanese Articles (1869), by James Tissot.  (Image Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library)

Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who lived in Chelsea near James McNeill Whistler, tried to shop for Japanese items in Paris in November, 1864.  But, as he wrote to his mother from Paris, he “found all the costumes were being snapped up by a French artist, Tissot, who it seems is doing three Japanese pictures, which the mistress of the shop described to me as the three wonders of the world, evidently in her opinion quite throwing Whistler into the shade.”

Rossetti’s comment indicates that James Tissot was unknown to him prior to this, and that, with resentment at losing out on these treasures to him, he imagined Tissot was an inferior artist.

However, Rossetti became an admirer of Tissot’s work within months, when a book was published that included illustrations by several artists, including Millais and Tissot.  On February 3, 1865, Rossetti wrote to his friend, Alexander Macmillan, “I have seen the frontispiece & vignette to Tom Taylor’s Breton Ballads [Ballads and Songs of Brittany] designed by Tissot, which are admirable things. Could you as their publisher let me have a proof of each separate from the work?”  Macmillan made Rossetti a gift of one of Tissot’s drawings, either The Crusader’s Wife  or the one for the frontispiece.

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Apple Blossoms (Spring, 1859), J.E. Millais. (Photo: Wikipedia)

spring

Spring (1865), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tissot continued to be inspired by Millais.  At the Paris Salon of 1865, though one of Tissot’s medieval pictures was a disappointment to the critics, his second picture, Spring,  received some praise because of its similarities to Millais’ Apple Blossoms (Spring), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1859.

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Portrait of Effie Millais (1873), by J.E. Millais (Photo:  Wiki)

In early June, 1871, Tissot fled Paris, along with thousands of others, after the Bloody Week, when French government troops brutally suppressed the Commune uprising that followed the Franco-Prussian War.  He arrived in London with 100 francs in his pocket, but he had had enough time to pack a few drawings before he left Paris:  on June 19, 1871, he dedicated an exquisite graphite rendering of a reclining French soldier at his ease with a rifle to Effie Millais (1828 – 1897).  Tissot had fought bravely in the Battle of Malmaison, west of Paris, on October 21, 1870; this drawing is inscribed to Effie, “a la Malmaison/le 22 Oct 1870.”

With the help of a handful of friends, including Millais, Tissot proceeded to rebuild his career in London.

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A Huguenot, on St Bartholomew’s Day, refusing to shield himself from danger by wearing the Roman Catholic badge (1851-52), by J.E. Millais.  (Photo:  Wiki)

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Les Adieux (The Farewells, 1871), by James Tissot. (Photo courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Royal Academy exhibition in 1872, Tissot showed Les Adieux (The Farewells, 1871).  A sentimental costume piece calculated to appeal to the British public, it clearly was inspired by Millais’ A Huguenot (1851-52).  Neither the critics nor the public objected to the French artist’s emulation of a Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece; rather, Tissot’s painting was so popular that it was reproduced as a steel engraving by John Ballin and published by Pilgeram and Lefèvre in 1873.

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The Hammock (1879), by James Tissot.  (Image courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library)

Later in the decade, when Tissot ceased exhibiting his work at the Royal Academy and instead displayed it at the innovative, elegant new Grosvenor Gallery, his supreme talent was acknowledged, but his paintings were considered a perversion of Pre-Raphaelitism:

“Mr. James Tissot, one of the eccentrics of the Grosvenor school, has sent in eight pictures.  In six or seven of them the leading figure is a girl in a hammock or in a swing, or lying down.  She is always surrounded by green trees and green grass, so green that you have to hunt for the figures, and so clever that you want to have Mr. Tissot sent for that you may call him names for prostituting his talents to a silly affectation of realism.   Pre-Raphaelitism gone mad is the motive power of this wild man of the studio.  Whistler has not quite satisfied us whether he can paint or not; but under Tissot’s eccentricities lurks a laughing giant.”   The New York Times, May 12, 1879

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Pan and Psyche (1872-74), by Edward Burne-Jones.  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

In an 1896 letter to Helen (May) Gaskell, Edward Burne-Jones (1833 – 1898), who had been a close follower of Rossetti, described Tissot’s paintings of “ladies in hammocks, showing legs & ladies smoking – and all manner of things not tending to edification.”  Burne-Jones had met and fell in love with May, an unhappily married Society hostess, in 1892.

Burne-Jones’ wife of thirty-eight years, Georgiana (1840 – 1920), wrote to Tissot after her husband’s death, asking if they had ever met or if there had ever been any correspondence between the two artists.  In January, 1899, she received a letter from him with a “beautiful answer” to her questions:

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Georgiana Burne-Jones, c. 1882.  (Photo:  Wikimedia)

“I am back from America and upon my return I find your letter which I hasten to answer. I did not know your husband very well.  I only remember that around 1875 I went to see him; he received me with great simplicity, and I judged the man according to what I saw in his studio – that is, great things on the easel rendered with a touching primitive simplicity.  I felt the heights where he hovered and the materiality where I struggled more and more; all this intimidated me so much that I was not going to see him anymore. He grew so much and I left England. Since then I have made this Life of Christ, I know he has been to see it.  I knew he liked it, and I would have a really good time seeing him on one of my trips to London when I learned of his death. He never wrote to me, otherwise I would put at your disposal what would remain of this great artist, one of the purest glories of your country. ”

Tissot, one of the most self-confident, ambitious and materially successful artists of his time, offered these effusive sentiments to a widow tasked with writing her husband’s biography.

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The Finding of the Savior in the Temple (1854–60), by William Holman Hunt.  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

As for the third leading founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, William Holman-Hunt wrote in his memoir, Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Vol. II:

The Franco-German war had brought many French artists to England, some of whom had returned to Paris, while others remained here.  One evening at a small bachelors’ gathering at Millais’ studio, a foreigner, being told that I had just returned from Jerusalem, asked if I were Holman-Hunt, the painter of “The Finding of Christ in the Temple[1854-55], which he had lately seen in Mr. Charles Mathews’ collection. He said that he had admired it and my principle of work so much that he had resolved some day to go to the East and paint on the same system.  I then learnt that this artist was young Tissot.

the-youth-of-jesus-illustration-for-the-life-of-christ

The Youth of Jesus (1886-94), by James Tissot.  (Photo:  Wikiart.org)

Either this is true, and “young Tissot,” finding himself rebuilding his reputation in London at age 35, taking career cues from the practical, businesslike Millais, dreamed of imitating Holman-Hunt’s artistic quest in the Holy Land – or, more likely, Holman-Hunt as an elderly man was burnishing his reputation by taking credit for inspiring Tissot’s highly lucrative Bible illustrations, researched in Palestine after a “spiritual awakening” in 1885 and published to worldwide acclaim in 1896 and 1897.  Tissot’s series of 365 gouache illustrations for the Life of Christ were shown to wildly enthusiastic crowds in Paris (1894 and 1895), London (1896) and New York (1898), after which they toured North America until 1900, bringing in $100,000 in entrance fees; the Brooklyn Museum then acquired them by public subscription for $60,000.  After Tissot’s death in 1902, his assistants completed his Old Testament project, which was published in 1904.  Holman-Hunt published his autobiography in 1905.

And so, from James Tissot’s earliest years as a painter until his death, the Pre-Raphaelites were intertwined with him and his success.

© 2018 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Related Posts:

London Début: Tissot explores a new art market, 1862

Ready and waiting: Tissot’s entrée, 1865

The competition: Tissot’s friends Whistler, Degas, Manet, Courbet, Alma-Tadema & Millais in 1866

Welcome to the Royal Academy Exhibition: London, 1870 (Part I)

London, June 1871

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.

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “Young Women Looking at Japanese Articles”

In 1866, thirty-year-old painter James Tissot bought land to build a villa on the most prestigious of Baron Haussmann’s grand new boulevards, the eleven-year-old avenue de l’Impératrice (now avenue Foch). By the Salon of 1868, Tissot had occupied his newly built mansion:  the intriguing details in La Cheminée (The Fireplace, c. 1869, private collection) and L’escalier (The Staircase, 1869, private collection) almost certainly were painted from its opulent interior.

Tissot’s studio, a showcase for his renowned collection of Japanese art, became a landmark to see when touring Paris – and, for Tissot, it was a brilliant marketing tool to attract commissions.  His collection of Japanese art and objets had grown to include a model of a Japanese ship, a Chinese shrine and hardwood table, and a Japanese black lacquered household altar, along with dozens of embroidered silk kimonos, Japanese dolls, folding screens and porcelains.  In 1869, he assimilated these exotic items into elegant compositions in three similar paintings featuring young women looking at Japanese objects.  

 

Young Women Looking at Japanese Objects

Jeunes femmes regardant des objects japonais (1869), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 24 by 19 in. (60.96 by 48.26 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

Young ladies admiring Japanese objects (1869), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 22 by 15 in. (55.88 by 38.10 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1834, copyright Lucy Paquette

 

By the 1930s, the version below was hanging in an interior decorator’s store on Third Street in Cincinnati and was purchased by Dr. Henry M. Goodyear; he and his wife gifted Tissot’s picture to the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1984.

IMG_8766, copyright Lucy Paquette

 

 

 

 

I recently made a trip to Cincinnati specifically to see this painting.  The Cincinnati Art Museum is beautiful, has an impressive collection, and is vibrant and extremely popular.  It is one of the oldest art museums in the United States.  Following the success of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, when public art museums were a new phenomenon, the Women’s Art Museum Association was organized in Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Museum Association was incorporated by 1881.  Five years later, a permanent art museum building was completed – the first purpose-built art museum west of the Alleghenies, heralded worldwide as “The Art Palace of the West.”  It has greatly expanded since then.

Young Women Looking at Japanese Articles is just exquisite – painted in Tissot’s academic style in a rich palette, it has a glossy, enameled finish and features abundant exotic details.  The women’s faces are sweet and contemplative, and their costumes are lovely.  You’ll notice that the central figure’s ensemble is actually red, not brown, as indicated in most photographs of this work.

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

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

It is such an engaging work that I took well over a dozen close-ups for you to enjoy.

IMG_8757, copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8758, copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8778 (2), copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8749, copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8750, copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8752 (2), copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8781 (2), copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8779 (2), copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8753 (2), copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8783, copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8765 (2)

IMG_8745, copyright by Lucy PaquetteIMG_8772, copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8785 (2), copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8755 (2), copyright Lucy Paquette

IMG_8743, copyright Lucy Paquette

 

Related posts:

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

“Chi-so”: Tissot teaches a brother of Japan’s last Shogun, 1868

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

Tissot’s Study for “Young Women looking at Japanese Objects” (1869)

Tissot in the U.S.: The Midwest

Tissot’s Comeback in the 1930s

© 2018 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.

 

French Painter James Tissot’s British Clients: Rising Industrialists, by Lucy Paquette for The Victorian Web

The Victorian Web, a vast resource on literature, history and culture in the age of Victoria, published this article in March, 2018:

By 1865, French painter James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 – 1902) was earning 70,000 francs a year, and had found his entrée to aristocratic patronage with The Marquis and the Marchioness of Miramon and their children (1865, Musée d’Orsay) on the terrace of the Château de Paulhac in Auvergne.  The next year, the marquis commissioned Tissot to paint Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née Thérèse Feuillant (1866, Getty Museum, Los Angeles) in her sitting room at the château.

In 1867, while Tissot’s opulent new villa on the most fashionable of Baron Haussmann’s boulevards was under construction, he painted the president of Paris’ exclusive Jockey Club, Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1824 –1896), now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  He moved into his elegant house by 1868, the year he painted a hearty slice of the French aristocracy in a group portrait of an exclusive club, founded in 1852, The Circle of the Rue Royale (1868, Musée d’Orsay).  At the Salon in 1868, Tissot exhibited two oil paintings, one of which, Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens (private collection), was purchased by Napoleon III’s influential cousin, Princess Mathilde.

But after the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–71, and its bloody aftermath, the Paris Commune uprising in the spring of 1871, Tissot moved to London.  Within two years, he established himself in a large house in the London suburb of St. John’s Wood with a studio, a conservatory and a luxurious garden.  While British aristocrats did not purchase the French artist’s paintings, plenty of newly-wealthy industrialists sought his work as they enhanced their social status by building art collections.  Because provenance (the history of ownership) of Old Masters paintings was not always meticulously documented at this time, many new collectors – wary of fakes – concentrated on contemporary artists so they would know exactly what they were getting for their money.

William Agnew (1825 – 1910), the most influential art dealer in London, specialized in “high-class modern paintings” and represented Tissot for a time during the 1870s.  Tissot’s The Last Evening was purchased from Agnew’s by Charles Gassiot (1826 – 1902), a London wine merchant and art patron who lived in a mansion in Upper Tooting, Surrey.  Gassiot bought The Last Evening in February, 1873, before it was exhibited at the Royal Academy, for £1,000.  Gassiot also purchased Tissot’s Too Early, from Agnew’s in March, 1873 (before its exhibition at the Royal Academy that year), for £1,155.  Gassiot and his wife Georgiana, a childless couple, donated a number of his paintings, including The Last Evening and Too Early, to the Guildhall Art Gallery from 1895 to 1902.

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

Tissot sold La Visite au Navire (A Visit to the Yacht, private collection) to Agnew’s, London, in mid-June 1873.  Less than five months later, at the beginning of November, Agnew’s, Liverpool sold the painting to art collector David Jardine (c. 1826 – 1911) of Highlea, Beaconsfield Road, Woolton.  Jardine, a timber broker and ship owner, was the head of Farnworth & Jardine, world famous for their mahogany auctions; a man of considerable ability and courtesy, he was well liked for his “courtly bearing.”

Les Adieux (Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, U.K.) was reproduced as a steel engraving by John Ballin and published by Pilgeram and Lefèvre in 1873 – an indication of its popularity.  The picture was owned by wealthy international railway contractor Charles Waring (c. 1827 – 1887).

The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874, Tate) was purchased from Tissot by William Agnew the year it was completed and sold to Hilton Philipson (1834 – 1904), a solicitor and colliery owner living at Tynemouth.  (Philipson also spent 620 guineas at Agnew’s for John Everett Millais’ 1874 painting, The Picture of Health, a portrait of Millais’ daughter, Alice (later Mrs. Charles Stuart Wortley).

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The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874), by James Tissot.

In 1874, two of James Tissot’s paintings were purchased by aristocrats, one Irish and the other French.  Mervyn Wingfield, 7th Viscount Powerscourt (1836 – 1904), whose forebears had lived since 1300 on a magnificent estate outside Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland, paid £1,000 for Avant le Départ (private collection).  By autumn, Tissot was commissioned to paint a double portrait of the exiled Empress of France, widow of Napoléon III, Eugénie de Montijo (1826 –1920), and their son, The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874, Musée Nationale du Château de Compiègne, France).  However, these sales were anomalies, and his clients continued to be industrialists.

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The Convalescent (1875/1876), by James Tissot.  Museums Sheffield, U.K.

Kaye Knowles, Esq. (1835-1886), was a London banker whose vast wealth came from shares in his family’s Lancashire coal mining business, Andrew Knowles and Sons.  Knowles, a client of London art dealer Algernon Moses Marsden [1848-1920, see Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?], owned a large art collection, including works by Sir Edwin Landseer, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Rosa Bonheur, Giuseppe De Nittis, Atkinson Grimshaw and Édouard Detaille.  He eventually owned four oil paintings by James Tissot, including The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst; On the Thames (1876, The Hepworth Wakefield, U.K.); and In the Conservatory (also known as Rivals, c1875-1876, Private Collection).  Incidentally, after Knowles’ sudden death, In the Conservatory (Rivals) was sold with his estate as Afternoon Tea by Christie’s, London, on May 14, 1887.  William Agnew bought the painting at this sale for 50 guineas and passed it to one of Kaye’s executors, his brother, Andrew Knowles, on May 16, 1887.  Andrew Knowles also owned The Convalescent (1875/1876, Museums Sheffield, U.K.), which was exhibited at the 1876 Royal Academy exhibition.

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Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76), by James Tissot.  Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute at Williamstown, Massachusetts

Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute at Williamstown, Massachusetts) was purchased by British cotton magnate, MP and contemporary art collector Edward Hermon (1822 – 1881) by 1877.  Hermon eventually owned over 70 paintings, including works by J.M.W. Turner, Sir Edwin Landseer, and John Everett Millais, which he displayed in the picture gallery of his magnificent French Gothic estate, Wyfold Court, built at Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire between 1872 and 1878.

Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877, Tate) originally was owned by Henry Jump (1820 – 1893), a wealthy Justice of the Peace and corn merchant living at Gateacre, Lancashire.

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Portrait of Mrs Catherine Smith Gill and Two of her Children (1877), by James Tissot.  Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, U.K.

Mr. Chapple Gill (c.1833 – 1901/2), was the son of Robert Gill, a Liverpool cotton broker of Knotty Cross and R. & C. Gill; the son joined the business in 1857 and had risen to senior partner [by 1880, he became head of the firm].  In 1877, he commissioned French painter Tissot, then living in London, to paint a portrait of his wife, Catherine Smith Carey (1847-1916), whom he had married on June 10, 1868 at Childwall.  She was the only child of Thomas Carey (1809 – c. 1875), a wealthy, retired estate agent.  Tissot’s portrait of Catherine Smith Gill (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) shows her – heiress at age 30 – sitting with her two children in the drawing-room window of her mother’s home at Lower Lee, at Woolton near Liverpool, which was built by Catherine’s father.

William Menelaus (1818 – 1882) was a Scottish-born engineer, iron and steel manufacturer, and inventor. Widowed after only ten weeks of marriage, he never remarried but raised two nephews (William Darling, who became a law lord, and Charles Darling, who became an MP and later a baron). Menelaus earned a fortune at the Dowlais Ironworks in South Wales, and his only extravagance was his art collection, which was said to fill his home in Merthyr. He donated pieces to the Cardiff Free Library, then upon his death, bequeathed to it the remaining thirty-six paintings, valued at £10,000. His bequest included James Tissot’s Bad News (The Parting), 1872, now at the National Museum Cardiff.

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Quiet (c. 1881), by James Tissot.  Private Collection.

Quiet (c. 1881) was purchased by Richard Donkin, M.P. (1836 – 1919), an English shipowner who was elected Member of Parliament for the newly created constituency of Tynemouth in the 1885 general election.  The small painting remained in the family and was a major discovery of a Tissot work when it appeared on the market in 1993, selling for $ 416,220/£ 280,000.  In perfect condition, it shows Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882), and her niece, Lilian Hervey in the garden of Tissot’s house at 17 Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, in north London.  It was Lilian Hervey who, in 1946, publicly identified the model long known only as “La Mystérieuse” – the Mystery Woman – as her aunt, Kathleen Newton.

The story of James Tissot’s Victorian patrons is the story of social transition:  in the late nineteenth century, art collecting ceased to be the prerogative of the aristocracy and became a status symbol for the rising industrial classThe wealth of contemporary collectors of Tissot’s oil paintings gives an idea of the monetary value of his canvases as well as their perceived value as status symbols.

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On the Thames, A Heron (c. 1871-1872), by James Tissot.  Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

An interesting side note is that, for one prominent financial dynasty, the value of Tissot’s paintings as investments did not hold.  On the Thames, A Heron (c. 1871-1872, Minneapolis Institute of Arts) was one of Tissot’s first paintings after his arrival in London – and it was the first on record to be sold at auction in England.  Calculated to appeal to Victorian tastes, this Japanese-influenced scene initially was owned by London banker José de Murrieta (c. 1834 – 1901), a member of a Spanish family who had made their fortune within two generations by trading, especially with Argentina.  Murrieta tried to sell the painting in May, 1873 as On the Thames: the frightened heron for 570 guineas, but it did not find a buyer.  José, who was married, lived at Wadhurst Park in East Sussex, designed by E.J. Tarver in 1872-75.  It was purchased by his bachelor brothers Cristobal (1839 – 1891) and Adriano (1843 – 1891); they resided in the mansion they built about 1854 at 11, Kensington Palace Gardens (which was decorated by Alfred Stevens, with Walter Crane painting a frieze in the ballroom they added in 1873).  José and his intelligent and witty wife, Jesusa (c.1834 – 1898), were members of the Prince of Wales’ set and entertained lavishly at the houses in London and Sussex, both showcases for the vast collection of modern British and Continental painting they  had amassed.  The Prince scandalized the Foreign Office before and after his trip to India by traveling to Menton on the Mediterranean for Easter with Mrs. Murrieta in March 1875, and spending three days sightseeing with her in April, 1876, while he stayed at lodgings taken for him under an assumed name.  José soon received royal favor himself, being created the first Marques de Santurce in October 1877 by 20-year-old King Alfonso XII of Spain.  Meanwhile, Lillie Langtry, a young married beauty from Jersey, consumed the Prince’s interest from mid-1877, and it was rumored that the Murrietas created a love nest for the Prince and her at Wadhurst.  The Prince’s attentions wandered by mid-1880, but by 1881, another wing had been added to Wadhurst to entertain him.  Within two years, the art collection was expendable.  In April 1883, among other paintings including a Turner and several Alma-Tademas, José offered At the Rifle Range (1869, Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire) for sale at Christie’s, London as The Crack Shot; at £220.10s, it failed to find a buyer. In June 1883, José attempted and failed to sell On the Thames for 273 guineas. The Murrietas, who invested heavily in Argentinian railways, were bankrupted in 1890, when Argentina defaulted on bond payments.

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Afternoon Tea, by James Tissot.  Private Collection.

Had José de Murrieta known that London wine merchant Charles Gassiot purchased The Last Evening in February, 1873 for £1,000 and Too Early in March, 1873 for £1,155, perhaps he might have been able to sell him On the Thames: the frightened heron for 570 guineas in May, 1873.  The Spanish banker might have been prudent to have tried slipping his “high-class modern paintings” past William Agnew’s discerning taste; then again, Agnew snapped up Afternoon Tea at Christie’s in 1887 for a mere 50 guineas.  In 2013, this picture was deaccessioned [regrettably] by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – selling at Christie’s, New York to a private collector for $1,700,000 (Hammer price).]

 

©  2018 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

Selected Bibliography

Brooke, David S. “James Tissot and the ‘Ravissante Irlandaise.'” Connoisseur. May 1968.

Graves, Algernon, F.S.A. Art Sales from Early in the Eighteenth Century to Early in the Twentieth Century. London: Algernon Graves, 1918.

Misfeldt, Willard E. James Jacques Joseph Tissot: A Bio-Critical Study. Ph.D. diss. Ann Arbor: Washington University, 1971.

Paquette, Lucy. “Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?” The Hammock. Web. 26 March 2018.

Ridley, Jane. The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, The Playboy Prince. New York: Random House, 2013.

Wadhurst History Society Newsletter. Web. 26 March 2018.

 

See my other articles on The Victorian Web:

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

 

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, the painter art critics love to hate

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Self portrait (c.1865), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 49.8 x 30.2 cm (19 5/8 x 11 7/8 in.). The Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California. Museum purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection, 1961.16. Image courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” by Lucy Paquette © 2012.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that both my blog and my book, The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, celebrate French painter James Tissot and his work.  You also know that April 1 is my birthday, and that I write an annual April Fool’s Day post, so once again, here’s something a little different for you.

In the nine years that I’ve been researching Tissot, I’ve been startled and mystified by the nature of criticism of his work.  I can tell you my least favorite of his paintings and why I don’t like them.  But I find that Tissot’s critics – past and present – can’t seem to do only that.  Their animosity toward Tissot has a bizarre personal thrust of resentment and spite, as if their dislike of his work is based on some grudge that ensued after a formerly tight friendship, along the lines of “I loved that man until he stole my girlfriend/was promoted over me at work/bought a Ferrari and wouldn’t let me test drive it.”  And yes, these reviewers who love to hate James Tissot almost always happen to be male.

My introduction to the conflation of dislike of Tissot’s work with unhinged hatred of James Tissot himself was a 1985 review of a new Tissot biography published in advance of exhibitions of Tissot’s work in France and the U.S.  The reviewer for The New York Times called his paintings “gloomy and inconclusive,” illustrating “boredom, tinged…with bitterness.”  He continued, weirdly, “As for Tissot himself…Californians have access to him in the debonair but slightly shifty self-portrait that is in the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco…In short order, the devious, would-be jaunty little fellow who looks out at us from Degas’s portrait [at the Metropolitan Museum of Art] was making a fortune in Paris in his early 30’s [sic] and riding high in a fashionable townhouse.”

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James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot (c. 1867-68), by Edgar Degas.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

When the reviewer adds, “Unhindered by any personal commitment to anything in particular, he could take time off to see what the public wanted,” you might ask yourself, “So what’s so offensive about a successful single guy in his 30s?”  According to this reviewer:  “But what matters in the end is to get rich with good paintings and not with bad ones.”

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Chatterton (1856), by Henry Wallis.  Tate.  (Photo:  Wikipedia.org)

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Bill Gates, World Economic Forum 2007 (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

Why?  Matters to whom?  Who gets to decide whose paintings are good enough for them to “get rich” by, if not those who buy them?  Whose ring are they supposed to kiss – the leader of the Establishment, or the anti-Establishment?  Is there some rule that artists have to prove themselves by suffering for some cause, starving in a garret, dying young, or perhaps killing themselves for being misunderstood, before they are promoted to Officially Important Artist?

Does it count that Tissot fought in the Franco-Prussian War, was wounded in a battle at the front that his unit unexpectedly was sent to one morning?  That he stayed in Paris during the Commune while his peers all fled and alone recorded mass executions by the French Government that no one wanted to know about at the time?  That, after emigrating to London, he was no longer considered a real French artist, nor considered an English one, so his work must speak for itself?  James Tissot became wealthy through his own independent nature, talent, and hard work; isn’t that something universally admired?

Enough people thought, and continue to think, well enough of Tissot’s work that they have paid enormous sums for it, and museum curators think highly enough of Tissot’s work that it hangs in major art museums around the world, from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Tate in London, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, to the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.  Why, then, is James Tissot even now such an object of scorn to certain people?

This New York Times reviewer in 1985 summed Tissot up as a “dexterous careerist” and “a minor master, in way above his head.”  As a parting shot, he referred to Tissot’s mistress, the young divorcée Kathleen Newton, as a “concubine…lolling around like a beached porpoise,” modelling for “many a droopy painting.”

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The Hammock (1879), by James Tissot. 50 in./127 cm. by 30 in./76.20 cm. Image 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

The current EY Exhibition at Tate Britain, “The Impressionists in London:  French Artists in Exile 1870-1904,” (through May 7, 2018) features a great deal of work by James Tissot, including some never before displayed in public, as well as a horrified letter he wrote to an English aristocrat describing executions he witnessed.  While visitors are even now crowding around these items, many reviewers tore into Tissot in the days before the show opened.

“How I despise the obsequies and sneers of James Tissot, his meringue frills and cupcake palette,” wrote the critic for London’s Evening Standard, who made no comment on Tissot’s elegant watercolor, The Wounded Soldier (c. 1870), or his May 29, 1871 watercolor of a dozen men being pushed off the ramparts outside Paris to their grisly deaths, a government massacre he witnessed.

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Le premier homme tué que j’ai vu (Souvenir du siège de Paris) (The First Killed I Saw (Souvenir of the Siege of Paris)), by James Tissot.  (Courtesy of http://www.jamestissot.org)

The Telegraph’s reviewer also ignored Tissot’s extraordinary war reportage, and let him have it:  “Really, though, Tissot was a manicured and superficial fawner, with an excessive interest in flouncy, expensive women’s fashions.  As an artist, he was always too eager to please.”  He called Tissot’s work “irredeemably insincere” and “finicky,” filled with “meretricious flash and sparkle.”

The Financial Times’ art critic (the rare female) was sweet by comparison, merely lambasting Tissot’s “queasily compressed compositions” and “his easy facility and brittle surfaces.”

The Guardian’s critic termed Tissot a  “bore” – “a famous one whose work is still familiar from greetings cards and paperback covers of classic novels.”  He begrudgingly mentioned that Tissot, though an exile from French tumult, remained in London for a decade, “living in increasing affluence in St John’s Wood.”  Tissot’s affluence seems to be the lightning rod for many, while this critic also trots out the charge of plagiarism made against Tissot by his frenemies, James McNeill Whistler and Edmond de Goncourt:  “There’s a twist of Degas, a pinch from Manet, a whole subject from Whistler, all ironed flat by his noncommittal brushwork.”

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Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, also called Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1871), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler.  Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet (1657), by Rembrandt van Rijn. Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd, Wales. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

[See Was James Tissot a Plagiarist? and

More “Plagiarists”: Tissot’s friends Manet, Degas, Whistler & Others.  To the left, Whistler with a soupçon of Rembrandt (right).]

The kiss of death from this Guardian critic?  “He has more to offer the historian of costume than the historian of art.”  But in 1869, the reviewer for L’Artiste praised this and more about Tissot’s work exhibited at the Paris Salon:  “Our industrial and artistic creations can perish, our morals and our fashions can fall into obscurity, but a picture by M. Tissot will be enough for archaeologists of the future to reconstitute our epoch.”

The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth) c.1876 by James Tissot 1836-1902

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

A week later, a different reviewer for The Guardian decried Tissot’s work for “how shallow and calculated some of his scenes are,” and was especially affronted that, “A woman accidentally displaying her bottom perfectly plays to Victorian sexual hypocrisy.”  Clearly, the display of this bottom was not accidental.

But not all art critics despise Tissot and his work.

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On the Thames (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 74.8 by 110 cm.  The Hepworth Wakefield.  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.

Time Out’s reviewer had just begun describing the Tate’s EY Exhibition for his readers, before his excitement brimmed over:  “…then you get hit with a room full of James Tissot paintings, and that’s where it gets good.  Tissot came to England to make a name for himself as a society painter, and boy did he ace it.  His paintings of parties in mansions, picnics in the garden, trysts on the Thames are lush, cool, refined and debauched.  His colours are deep and luxurious, his fabrics flowing and infinitely detailed.  This is society painting at its finest: knowing, cynical and sexy.  He’s an obscure and not particularly cool artist, but it’s such a treat to see so many of his works together.”  (To hipsters and sophisticates, most people described as “knowing, cynical and sexy” would, indeed, be considered cool.  Why not James Tissot?)

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Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née, Thérèse Feuillant (1866), by James Tissot. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. (Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.)

I never have had to struggle through determined museum crowds to see a painting as I did at “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” at the Met in 2013.  The dense, semi-circular crushes before Tissot’s The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their Children (1865), Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née, Thérèse Feuillant (1866), and The Circle of the Rue Royale (1868) were astounding, and deserved.  But a New York Times reviewer couldn’t resist disparaging the Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née, Thérèse Feuillant as “zealously detailed,” when that’s why it’s so wonderful.  People (including me) vied for a position close enough to examine its every exquisite detail, and the masterful brush curls of the gown’s ruffled edging.

Likewise at the Tate’s “Impressionists in London” recently, with waves of visitors flowing past, I had to anchor myself in front of Tissot’s The Wounded Soldier (1870) and his eyewitness account in watercolor, The Execution of Communards by French Government Forces at Fortifications in the Bois de Boulogne, 29 May 1871 (private collection), displayed in public for the first time.

Call James Tissot “devious,” “shifty,” “a manicured and superficial fawner,” whatever makes you feel superior to a man who’s been dead for 116 years but lives on in continued public popularity.  It’s said, “The best revenge is living well,” and Tissot, with his champagne on ice for visitors at his large private villa in the leafy suburbs of London, his hot girlfriend, and his enormous self-generated income and therefore his independence, lived better than pretty much anyone.  If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

“…there is something of the human soul in his work and that is why he is great, immense, infinite…”  

Vincent van Gogh on James Tissot, in a letter to his brother, Theo, September 24, 1880

© 2018 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me, and please enjoy other posts on my blog as well as my book, The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.

If you’d like to learn more about James Tissot and his work, see this show if you can, and let me know what you think:

The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870 – 1904)

November 2, 2017 – May 7, 2018

Tate Britain

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

Tissot’s Tiger Skin: A Prominent Prop

 

View my video, “The Strange Career of James Tissot” (Length:  2:33 minutes).

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 “Algernon Moses Marsden”

I recently had the rare opportunity to see James Tissot’s Algernon Moses Marsden, one of three of his oil paintings on temporary loan to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford from a private collection.  My thanks to the gentleman on Twitter who kindly drew my attention to this.

James Tissot painted Algernon Moses Marsden’s portrait in 1877, and it remained in the Marsden family for nearly a century.  It’s a compelling image; Marsden, at age 30, appears sophisticated and well-to-do.  Unfortunately, he was a complete cad.  He was Tissot’s art dealer for a short time in the mid-1870s, and the setting of the portrait is the elegant new studio of Tissot’s home in St. John’s Wood [not Marsden’s study, as it formerly was identified].

IMG_8023 (2), copyright by Lucy PaquetteMarsden was a witty and engaging gambler, bankrupt and rogue who foisted his debts on his father and deserted his wife and ten children.  When his father died in 1884, he disinherited his son but provided legacies for his abandoned family members.  In 1901, bankrupt for at least the third time, Algernon, at age 54, fled to the United States with another woman.

He was bankrupt again in 1912, and he died eight years later in upstate New York.  His tombstone in Mt. Hope Cemetery (Section S) in Rochester, New York, is inscribed:  “MARSDEN Algernon Moses of London, Eng.; d Jan 23, 1920 æ 72y” [at the age of 72 years].

Tissot’s portrait, which captures the man in his moment of youth and apparent success, was sold at Sotheby’s, London in 1971 for $4,838/£2,000.  In 1983, it was sold at Christie’s, London for $65,677/£45,000.  [Hammer prices.]

During my visit to the Ashmolean, I was alone in the gallery with this portrait for some time, and Algernon Moses Marsden is eerily alive.  A highly-educated professional woman I encountered at the museum told me he made her “swoon.”

Enjoy these close-up photographs of the man and that tiger skin – which Tissot uses to provide visual interest to the otherwise plain leather armchair, but which also functions as a startling emblem of Marsden’s virility:  through Tissot, we see Algernon Moses Marsden the way he saw himself.

(And yes, the blue dots are reflections on the glass.)

IMG_7964, Algernon Moses Marsden, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7969 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7967 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7970 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7994 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7989 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7991 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_8030 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7965 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

 

© 2018 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Related Posts:

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “Quarrelling”

Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?

Tissot’s Tiger Skin: A Prominent Prop

 

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.

Exhibition note:

The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870 – 1904),” November 2, 2017 – May 7, 2018.

 Curator, Dr. Caroline Corbeau-Parsons, Assistant Curator 1850-1915

Tate Britain

And see “James Tissot, the Englishman,” by Cyrille Sciama, Curator of the 19th century collections at the Musée d’arts de Nantes, in the exhibition catalogue.

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “Quarrelling”

It’s a rare thing to see a painting by James Tissot from a private collection.  For this opportunity, I thank a lovely gentlemen I know from Twitter, who alerted me last fall that three of Tissot’s oil paintings were on temporary loan to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.  I made the trip to see Quarrelling (c. 1874-76), The Bunch of Lilacs (1875), and Algernon Moses Marsden (1877).

IMG_8012, copyright by Lucy PaquetteIn Quarrelling, which Tissot exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1876, a stylish couple stand in uncomfortable silence on opposite sides of one of the cast-iron columns in the graceful, curved colonnade that Tissot added to his garden at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, around 1875.  Copied from the colonnade in Parc Monceau in Paris, it became the backdrop for a number of Tissot’s paintings in the next few years.

photo 1

Parc Monceau, Paris.  (Photo by Lucy Paquette.)

Everything in this picture is beautiful – and beautifully painted:  the man’s dapper beige lounge suit, his flamboyant tan and white leather spectator shoes, and his straw boater with its black band; the woman’s chic fur-trimmed ensemble, which Tissot used in other paintings, the slick black cast iron, the slightly broken surface of the ornamental pond, and the quietly rippling willow branches.  Enjoy Tissot’s brushwork in the photographs below!

IMG_7950, Quarreling, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7982 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7953, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7961 (2), copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7985, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7973, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7983, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7997, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7972, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7954, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7956, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7957, copyright by Lucy Paquette

IMG_7977, copyright by Lucy Paquette

Stay tuned for another private viewing in my next post, “A Closer Look at Tissot’s Algernon Moses Marsden.”

As for The Bunch of Lilacs, one of my favorite of all Tissot’s oil paintings, this is what I found during my visit:

IMG_8031, copyright by Lucy Paquette

 

© 2018 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Related Posts:

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “Too Early”

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “The Fan”

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “The Ball on Shipboard”

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “Hush! (The Concert)”

 

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.

Exhibition note:

The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870 – 1904),” November 2, 2017 – May 7, 2018.

 Curator, Dr. Caroline Corbeau-Parsons, Assistant Curator 1850-1915

Tate Britain

And see “James Tissot, the Englishman,” by Cyrille Sciama, Curator of the 19th century collections at the Musée d’arts de Nantes, in the exhibition catalogue.