Category Archives: Impressionists

James Tissot’s Mourners at Auction

 

All auction prices listed are for general reader interest only, and are shown in this order:    $ (USD)/£ (GBP).  All prices listed are Hammer Price (the winning bid amount) unless noted as Premium, indicating that the figure quoted includes the Buyer’s Premium of an additional percentage charged by the auction house, as well as taxes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sans dot (Without Dowry, 1883-85), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 58 by 41 in. (147.32 by 104.14 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:

James Tissot’s popularity boom in the 1980s

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

James Tissot in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection

Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series

James Tissot in Mourning

©  2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library

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

James Tissot in Mourning

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

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

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

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

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

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Advertising for Victorian mourning garb

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tissot’s double portrait The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874) depicts the exiled French Empress (1826 – 1920), living outside London after the collapse of the Second Empire, and her son, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, who would be killed in 1879, at age 23, in the Zulu War.  The only child of Napoléon III of France, he was accepted to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in 1872 and is pictured in the uniform of a Woolwich cadet.  The Empress is in her first year of mourning following the death of her husband in January, 1873.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sans dot (Without Dowry, 1883-85), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 58 by 41 in. (147.32 by 104.14 cm).  Private Collection.  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

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

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

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

Related posts:

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

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

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

Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series

REFERENCE WORKS:

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

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

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

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

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2017.  All rights reserved.

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:

Ready and waiting: Tissot’s entrée, 1865

From Princess to Plutocrat: Tissot’s Patrons

Tissot in the new millenium: Museum Acquisitions

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

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

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

CH377762© 2016 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo by R. Zuercher, © 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:

Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series

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

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

Tissot in the U.S.:  New England

© 2016 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

CH377762If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “The Fan”

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

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

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

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

The Fan was sold at Sotheby’s, London in 1982 for $ 73,974/£ 42,000 to Charles Jerdein (1916 – 1999).  Jerdein was the trainer who officially received the credit when thoroughbred Gilles de Retz landed the 2,000 Guineas in 1956; the Jockey Club did not recognize the female trainer, Helen Johnson-Houghton.  Jerdein left Mrs. Johnson-Houghton’s operation that year, trained on his own for a short time, then concentrated on his business as an art dealer in London, though he occasionally had a horse in training in Newmarket.  By the early 1960s, Jerdein had pioneered the market for paintings by James Tissot’s friend, the Dutch-born Victorian painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912), before Alma-Tadema’s name became associated with the American television personality who collected his work, Allen Funt of “Candid Camera.”

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo by R. Zuercher, © 2016

I’ve tried to see The Fan for the past few years, but the museum was undergoing renovations.  In 2013, The Fan was in the Mississippi Museum of Art’s “Old Masters to Monet” exhibition, one of fifty master works of French art spanning three centuries from the Wadsworth’s collection.  After that and through the first two months of 2014, The Fan was on display at the Denver Art Museum’s exhibition, “Court to Café: Three Centuries of French Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:

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

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

Tissot in the Conservatory

Tissot in the U.S.:  New England

© 2016 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

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

www-jamestissot-org-in-the-conservatory-rivals-2-1875-78The popular and informative 19th century romance, literature, and history blogger, author Mimi Matthews, features a guest post from me this week, James Tissot’s Fashion Plates (1864-1878):  A Guest Post by Lucy Paquette.

Mimi’s posts, always so well-researched and entertaining, discuss numerous subjects relevant to the fashions that James Tissot painted in such stunning detail.  You can find them at 19th Century Fashion & Beauty, and they include:

Japonism: The Japanese Influence on Victorian Fashion

The 1860s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade

The 1870s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade

The 1880s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade

The Trouble with Bustles: Victorian Fashion in the 19th Century News

The 19th Century Wire Cage Crinoline

My guest post on Mimi’s blog is just one way to celebrate James Tissot’s 180th birthday on October 15, 2016.  I also will have the opportunity to visit two more of Tissot’s oil paintings that I have never seen close up.

I hope you will celebrate James Tissot’s life and work by reading my novel, THE HAMMOCK:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.*

THE HAMMOCK is the story of ten remarkable years in the life of James Tissot (1836 – 1902), who rebuilt – and then lost – his reputation in London.

By 1870, at age 34, he had become a multi-millionaire celebrity with an opulent new Parisian villa and studio among aristocratic neighbors near the Arc de Triomphe.  Handsome and charming, his friends included the painters James McNeill Whistler, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Lawrence Alma-Tadema and John Everett Millais.  When the Prussians attacked Paris that year, Tissot became a sharpshooter in the artists’ brigade defending the besieged capital.  After a bloody Communist rebellion, fought virtually at the doorstep of his mansion, he fled to London.

CH377762Amid suspicions that he was a Communist, he quickly rebuilt his brilliant career among the Industrial Age’s nouveaux riches.  In 1876, Tissot took a young Irish divorcée as his mistress and muse.  He referred to her only as “La Mystérieuse” and withdrew from Society to paint her in his garden paradise in the suburbs.  Within three years, his pictures had pushed the boundaries of Victorian morality, and the British art establishment turned against him.  In a debacle of friendship, fame and loss, his artistic heyday of painting a decade of glamour and leisure in London came to an end.  Celebrated during his lifetime, Tissot has been nearly forgotten by all but art historians.

THE HAMMOCK is a psychological portrait, exploring the forces that unwound the career of this complex man.  Based on contemporary sources, the novel brings Tissot’s world 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  

ISBN:  978-0-615-68267-9 (ePub)

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

View Lucy Paquette’s videos:

“The Strange Career of James Tissot”  (2:33 min.)

“Louise Jopling and James Tissot”  (2:42 min.)

Take Lucy Paquette’s BuzzFeed Personality Quiz,

Which Female Victorian Artist Are You?

*Don’t own a Kindle?  Amazon.com has free Kindle reading apps!

Download free Kindle reading apps for:

Kindle Cloud Reader     Read instantly in your browser

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James Tissot’s Cloisonné

James Tissot’s meticulous technical skills extended beyond oil painting, watercolor, pastels, and engraving to cloisonné.

Cloisonné is an enameling technique in which delicate metal strips or wires are soldered to a metal surface to outline intricate designs, and the spaces (cloisons in French) are filled with pastes made of ground colored glass.  The object is fired in a kiln, the paste becomes enamel, and the piece is ground smooth and polished until glossy.

Cloisonné rings exist from 13th century BC Mycenaean Greece, and cloisonné enameling was widespread in the Byzantine Empire from the 10th to the 12th century.

The earliest Chinese cloisonné pieces were made during the Xuande period (1426–1436), but the cloisonné enamel technique was likely introduced into China during the late Mongol Yuan dynasty (1279–1368).  From that time through the early Ming dynasty (1368–1644), cloisonné enamel pieces were primarily intended for ritual use in Buddhist temples.  During the second half of the eighteenth century, imperial workshops were established within the Forbidden City, and there were numerous commissions of cloisonné enamels for the imperial palaces and private residences.

Meanwhile, 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.  J.G. Houssaye’s À la porte chinoise (At the Chinese Gate) was established on rue Vivienne by 1855, and by 1856, M. Decelle had opened L’Empire Céleste (The Celestial Empire) there.  Houssaye later opened Au Céleste Empire on rue Saint-Marc.

During the Second Opium War in 1860, the dazzling Summer Palace in Beijing – the Emperor’s favorite residence, built between 1750 and 1764 – was looted and burned to the ground by British and French troops.  Treasures from the palace arrived in Britain and France along with all manner of exotic porcelains, engravings, lacquer ware, silks, scrolls, screens, fans and trinkets from the Far East.

In 1862, Madame Desoye, who with her husband had lived for many years in Japan, opened an import shop, La Jonque Chinoise (The Chinese Junk) at 220 rue de Rivoli, near the Louvre.  Among her customers were Tissot, Manet, Degas, Whistler, and Sarah Bernhardt.  So novel was the art of East Asia that the distinction between Japanese and Chinese traditions was blurred into the catch-all term, Oriental.

Cloisonné became popular throughout Europe, especially in France, sparking Chinese production during the reign of the Guangxu emperor (1875–1909).  In Japan, cloisonné was popular during the Tokugawa (1603–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) periods.

Lucien Falize (1839 – 1897) a French goldsmith, visited the International Exhibition in London in 1862 and saw the first display of Oriental works of art at the Japanese Pavilion – the collection of exotic treasures owned by the retired first British Minister to Japan, Sir Rutherford Alcock (1809-1897).  In 1867, Falize saw the display of cloisonné enameled objects by the celebrated French jeweler and silversmith firm, Christofle, at the Expositon Universelle in Paris.  Falize’s firm began to produce cloisonné jewelry.

Firm of Lucien Falize

Firm of Lucien Falize

House of Christofle

Christofle & Cie

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

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

Tissot exhibited Le rendez-vous at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1867.  Notice the cloisonné  vases and pots clustered at the bottom right.

By about 1869, James Tissot’s new studio, on the most prestigious new thoroughfare in Paris, the avenue de l’Impératrice (Empress Avenue, now avenue Foch), had become a showcase for his renowned collection of Japanese art, and a landmark to see when touring Paris.  Tissot’s villa provided the lavish interiors filled with Oriental carpets, furniture, fabrics, carvings, vases and wall hangings that he used in his paintings.

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

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

But Tissot fled Paris in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and the bloody Commune in 1871, and he established himself in the competitive London art market.  By 1876, Tissot had earned great wealth and lived in relative seclusion with his mistress and muse, young divorcée Kathleen Newton.

In 1878, Lucien Falize won a Grand Prize and received the Legion of Honor for the work he exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris.  Other illustrious artists, such as the celebrated bronze founder Ferdinand Barbédienne (1810 – 1892) produced cloisonné enamels as well.

In the late 1870s, Tissot began to produce cloisonné enamels.  La Fortune (Fortune, c. 1878-1882), on display at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, is his largest piece.  A design for a fountain or a monument, it comprises patinated bronze, silver bronze, gilt bronze, cloisonné enamel, silver, and glass, on a walnut base.

La Fortune, by James Tissot

La Fortune (Fortune, c. 1878-1882), by James Tissot. Height: 127 cm, Diameter: 65 cm

La Fortune, by James Tissot

La Fortune (Fortune, c. 1878-1882), by James Tissot. Patinated bronze, silver bronze, gilt bronze, cloisonné enamel, silver, and glass, on a walnut base. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

Around 1880 or 1882, Tissot produced an oval jardinière (a planter), Lake and Sea, composed of copper panels decorated in cloisonné enamel with a bronze frame and gilt-bronze mounts.  It was based on a rare Ming gilt and enamel jardinière that Tissot acquired for his collection around 1870.  The Chinese piece, a basin with pastoral and mountain landscapes on its sides, was among the treasures looted from the Summer Palace in 1860.  It inspired Tissot to create the jardinière with Art Nouveau-like nude women seated on dragon heads, in place of the pair of lion-shaped handles on the original.

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Lake and Sea, (c. 1880-1882), by James Tissot. Coisonné enamel, bronze frame with gilt-bronze mounts. 240 by 620 by 310 mm. Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton, UK

Tissot exhibited this jardinière with over twenty pieces of cloisonné enamel including a large sculpture, vases, jardinières, trays, teapots, plaques and trial pieces at the Dudley Gallery, in London in 1882.  They did not receive much acclaim, and none sold.

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Children in a Garden (c. 1882), by James Tissot. Cloisonné enamel on copper (25 by 10 cm). Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

Mrs. Newton with a Parasol (1879), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Mrs. Newton with a Parasol (1879), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Note the similarity of the shape of Tissot’s vase, Children in a Garden, compared to the vase he showcased on the table in Jeunes femmes regardant des objects japonais (Young Women Looking at Japanese Objects, 1869), above.  The images he used to decorate his modernized vase were based on his paintings of the period, such as Mrs. Newton with a Parasol (1879).

When Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882, Tissot was distraught.  Immediately after the funeral on November 14, at the Church of Our Lady in Lisson Grove, St. John’s Wood, he returned to Paris.

He took his paintings and the entire cloisonné collection he had exhibited at the Dudley Gallery, but he left all his paints and art supplies in trays in the studio, and the pots containing the materials for his cloisonné work were left in the basement.

Tissot exhibited his cloisonné collection twice in Paris:  in March, 1883 at the Palais de l’Industrie, and again from April to June, 1885 at the Galerie Sedelmeyer.  He continued to produce more pieces, but all of them remained in his possession.  After his death, some  of his cloisonné enamels were sold and some were kept by family members.

Related posts:

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

On top of the world: Tissot, Millais & Alma-Tadema in 1867

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

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

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

© 2016 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

 

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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