Category Archives: Impressionists

James Tissot, the painter art critics still love to hate: a retrospective review round-up

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “James Tissot, the painter art critics still love to hate: a retrospective review round-up.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2020/01/15/james-tissot-the-painter-art-critics-still-love-to-hate-a-retrospective-review-round-up/. <Date viewed.>

 

The current James Tissot retrospective, at the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco until it travels to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris in March, attempts to reassess the artist’s work in the nineteenth-century canon. As of its opening in November, 2019, a number of reviews have been published, collectively providing some idea of the prevailing view of Tissot and his oeuvre and the critical response to the exhibition’s stated objective.

2-james_tissot_self_portrait_1865-the-legion-of-honor-fine-arts-museums-of-san-francisco-ca-public-domain-image

Self-Portrait (c. 1865), by James Tissot, with “all its mysterious emo glamour.”

Of the dozen reviews I’ve read, some are more announcements of the exhibition, or merely reiterate information from the Legion of Honor’s press kit. In the latter case, it often was clear that some reviewers did not know what to make of Tissot or his work and were playing it safe.

An early reviewer, for Boomers Daily, noted, “Tissot consistently defied convention in both his professional and personal life,” and that certainly is true.

Art and Antiques Magazine’s review began with the critic referring to Tissot’s c. 1865 Self-Portrait, with “all its mysterious emo glamour,” and commenting, “Tissot made a name for himself as a painter of glossy society pictures. But he ended up – as if he got in the wrong cab after a party one night – as a reclusive painter of Spiritualist and Biblical subjects.” She summarized his oeuvre as “ ‘attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places’…Men are smug and women are bored.”

The reviewer for France-Amerique, the only bilingual French-English publication in the U.S., vacillated: “With a foot in two cultures, a style that refuses categorization, and a dramatic late-career shift in subject matter, he is hard to pin down…Tissot’s meticulous renderings of shipboard balls and elegant picnics have a superficial air of frivolity yet convey enduring human truths to the astute viewer. One reviewer observed that he was ‘looked upon over here as a kind of artistic Zola.’ ”

James_Tissot_-_Holyday

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

Apollo Magazine’s critic damned Tissot with faint praise: “the artist comes across as focused, organised, ambitious and immensely hard-working.”

The Wall Street Journal’s critic was muted, leaving the impression she was not a fan but did not wish to be a spoilsport: “But was Tissot more than a fussy society painter? Many critics, then and now, think not.” Comparing him to his peers in England and France, she comments, “Tissot’s art stayed within the lines…[his] subjects seem slight.” She concludes that his paintings “were not necessarily vacuous, as critics have claimed,” adding, “ ‘Faith & Fashion’ surely deepens our understanding of Tissot, and it may convince some visitors that he is underestimated. Still I suspect that for many he may remain just a virtuoso with the brush. And what’s wrong with that?”

Some critics, still, just outright loathe Tissot’s work – and also, strangely, Tissot himself.

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s distinguished art critic, while allowing that the show is “impeccably displayed” and “the historical analysis is first-rate,” reports that “the art itself is often an intellectual letdown.”

He wrote, “One leaves the Legion show with a deep sense of disappointment in an artist who had every advantage – innate skill, early success, inherited wealth and social contacts, a friendship with the Impressionists that saw Edgar Degas inviting him to join one of the most important exhibitions in all art history – but who failed to take the chances and set himself the challenges that might have made him great…With some stunning exceptions, Tissot mostly put that technical skill to producing illustrational bromides.”

While people have their own preferences and affinities, this argument is unsound. In hindsight, the first exhibition of the artists who became known as Impressionists certainly was one of the most important in all art history, but who could have known that at the time, when they were just a loose association of young, frustrated rebels bickering among themselves? Manet thought Renoir, who with Degas was organizing their first independent show, took up painting by mistake and said he would never commit himself with Cezanne, and Degas was not a fan of Monet’s pictures. Tissot did not paint like they did, nor did he have the same perspective or goals; this argument is that he should have known better than to follow his own path. Tissot was proud of his work, and he was true to himself in the way he painted and in the subject matter he chose. Had he merely jumped on the bandwagon and started painting like Renoir and Monet to share in the limelight, he’d have been dismissed by later art historians as derivative. Manet also declined to exhibit with the Impressionists and told Degas, “the Salon is the real field of battle.”

This critic additionally condemns Tissot for the clichéd reason many modern critics have: that Tissot pursued a “lucrative career.” Degas and Manet were on the parental dole into their thirties; Tissot earned his living from the time he moved to Paris at nineteen, drawing portraits of maids and hotel housekeepers for thirty or forty francs a head. All three of them were from wealthy families and received inheritances. Who decreed that an artist is only a genius, or authentic, if they’re above pecuniary considerations? No one wants to be a starving artist. Tissot and Manet both tried to help Degas become more successful before his career began to take off in 1869. In 1868, Manet traveled to London to explore the art market there as “an outlet for our products.” In the early 1870s, Degas repeatedly wrote to Tissot about how to turn a profit from his work; from New Orleans, he wrote, “Here I have acquired the taste for money, and once back I shall know how to earn some I promise you.”

James Tissot, 1874, Ball on Shipboard, the-ath

The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874), by James Tissot. Tate, London. (Photo: the-athenaeum.org)

Then there’s the charge of classism, that in “ ‘The Ball on Shipboard’ (circa 1874) and other works of about the same time…Tissot’s high-fashion figures are of a social class far removed from, for example, the T-shirted revelers in Renoir’s famous ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ (1881).” This is comical, because critics at the time derided Tissot for portraying, not Society figures, but social climbers in The Ball on Shipboard, one writing, “The girls who are spread about in every attitude are evidently the ‘high life below stairs’ of the port, who have borrowed their mistresses’ dresses for the nonce,” and another declaring that it featured “no pretty women, but a set of showy rather than elegant costumes, some few graceful, but more ungraceful attitudes, and not a lady in a score of female figures.”

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Ministered_to_by_Angels_(Jésus_assisté_par_les_anges)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall

Jesus Ministered to by Angels (Jésus assisté par les anges, 1886-1894), by James Tissot.

The highly credentialed critic for Visual Art Source also detests Tissot, comparing the artist’s “spooky illustrations” of the Bible unfavorably to Michelangelo and Piero della Francesca. Ouch. Who compares favorably to Michelangelo? He observes that the Legion of Honor exhibition is well organized and beautifully presented, but “curiously lacking in [Tissot’s] voice,” and that, “[w]hile a visual delight, it’s not an emotional one.” He adds:

“Tissot’s drawing is sometimes off the mark, with disconnected body parts emerging from the extravagant costumery without evoking the body underneath. The effects sometimes verge on caricature, as in ‘Painters and Their Wives.’ His restrained but knowing satires of the lower orders now look dated and elitist, as in ‘Provincial Woman,’ ‘Too Early,’ and ‘London Visitors.’ The scenarios that he depicts are sometimes lacking in realistic space or lighting, looking as though they were assembled from various parts, without the rhythmic unity and grouping of the Renaissance painters like Carpaccio, an early influence. Check out ‘Departure of the Prodigal Son,’ ‘Return of the Prodigal Son’ and ‘Rue Royale.’ ” This fault with the composition of Tissot’s 1868 portrait of twelve members of the elite private club, the Circle of the rue Royale, has been pointed out many times; the painting is one of the most widely reproduced of Tissot’s images.

James Tissot, 1873, Too_Early

Dated and elitist? Too Early (1873), by James Tissot. Guildhall Art Gallery, London. (Photo: Wiki)

While comparing the oranges of James Tissot’s Second Empire and Victorian works to the apples of Renaissance masters, this reviewer does offer some praise for Tissot’s paintings: “Several, such as ‘Safe to Win,’ ‘The Fan,’ ‘Young Women Looking at the Chinese Temple’ and ‘Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon,’ are stunning works of indisputable, irresistible charm and verve,” but he also notes, “Tissot’s more stagy, spiritualized and gauzy images tend toward kitsch.” In the end, he dismisses Tissot’s entire oeuvre as “sensationalist drama, and low-rent entertainment.”

There’s one last sticking point with this critic, however: “The problem for a contemporary #MeToo audience, naturally, lies not in the aesthetic realm but the sociopolitical one. Tissot’s women are delicate, decorative creatures, however gloriously painted…the nineteenth-century status of women has to be considered in the case of Tissot. He was merely one of many artists engaged in the Male Gaze market.” Space does not permit me to address the entire section of this review on this point, but it involves an academic discussion [by Bram Dijkstra in “Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture”] of “bourgeois women of that time, uneducated, confined and cosseted, [who] were projected by their men as the repositories of Christian virtue and innocence…[w]hen they fell short of that…they were misogynistically transformed into the harpies, vampires and succubi of Symbolist art.” Let’s just let Tissot weigh in:

portrait-of-mlle-l-l-young-lady-in-a-red-jacket-1864

Portrait of Mlle. L.L. (Young Lady in a Red Jacket) (February 1864), by James Tissot.  Museé d’Orsay, Paris.  (Photo: Wikipaintings)

James Tissot, 1869, At the Rifle Range, the-ath

Safe to Win (also known as At the Rifle Range and The Crack Shot, 1869), by James Tissot. Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, U.K. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

James_Tissot_-_The_Letter c 1878, wikimedia

The Letter (c. 1878), by James Tissot. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Deep breath.

It may be that you either love Tissot, or you hate him, or he’s just not on your map.

The reviewer from the San Francisco Examiner is a fan (or maybe just a hometown booster?), calling James Tissot: Fashion & Faith “a gift to the Bay Area and not to be missed.”

the-apparition-mezzotine-second-state

The Apparition (1885)(mezzotint), by James Tissot

But the brave soul reviewing the retrospective for Hyperallergic put her reputation on the line, openly declaring her feelings: “James Tissot: Fashion & Faith…is a crowd pleaser with…something for everyone…it is wildly likable…What’s more…this is a rare chance to experience the work of an important, but under-known painter.” She wrote, “Tissot was an oddball masquerading as a successful society painter, an artist who’s been shunted aside for not participating in the forward march of capital ‘M’ Modernism.”

While she felt the rediscovered oil painting, The Apparition, is “anemic as a work of art. Too soft and a little vapid,” she termed London Visitors (c. 1874) “weirdly, wonderfully sexy.”

James Tissot, 1874 c, London_Visitors, Toledo, with cigar

London Visitors (1874), by James Tissot. Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, U.S. (Photo: the-athenaeum.org). “Weirdly, wonderfully sexy.”

So, is the ambitious goal of the current retrospective being realized – is James Tissot’s reputation being reassessed? Despite now being considered “emo” and “weirdly sexy,” a critical reappraisal of Tissot from the art world at large may be too much to hope for. Recently, I saw a Tweet rejecting Tissot’s work as “middlebrow.” Face it, he’s no taped banana.

Perhaps the important outcome of the current retrospective is that James Tissot’s work is being exhibited before a wider public that enjoys his iconic images of nineteenth century life. When I attended the show, I had to navigate crowded galleries, and someone even pushed the curator aside to get closer to that emo portrait. Vive la bourgeoisie.

© 2020 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

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James Tissot: Fashion & Faith, a retrospective at the Legion of Honor

James Tissot, the painter art critics love to hate

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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.

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.

James Tissot: Fashion & Faith, a retrospective at the Legion of Honor

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “James Tissot: Fashion & Faith, a retrospective at the Legion of Honor.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/james-tissot-fashion-faith-a-retrospective-at-the-legion-of-honor/. <Date viewed.>

 

James Tissot hasn’t always been in fashion, but he always had faith in his vision and in his legacy.

Opening this major retrospective exhibition of his work with a showstopper – October (1877), a monumental oil painting of the love of his life, the vibrant young Kathleen Newton teasingly skipping ahead of us, looking over her shoulder at us as if to invite us in – was an inspired decision by curator Melissa E. Buron, director of the art division at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor art museum, where James Tissot: Fashion and Faith is on view through February 9, 2020.

James Tissot, Fashion and Faith, wall with October, 1877

Installation view of James Tissot: Fashion & Faith at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, October 2019 Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

shot in studio, polarized light

James Tissot, “Self Portrait,” ca. 1865. Oil on panel, 19 5/8 x 11 7/8 in. (49.8 x 30.2 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection, 1961.16 Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

By 1870, at age 34, James Tissot (1836–1902) was a financially successful painter with an opulent new Parisian villa and studio near the Arc de Triomphe. Handsome and charming, his friends included the painters James McNeill Whistler, Edgar Degas, and Édouard Manet. When the Prussians attacked Paris that year, Tissot became a sharpshooter defending the besieged capital. After the Commune, a bloody civil uprising in the spring of 1871, he moved to London for a decade and rebuilt his career, found and lost love, and returned to Paris in 1882 to find himself out of step with his peers who had founded and fostered the movement that became known as Impressionism. He began again, this time achieving international fame.

In the same way that the Vanderbilts’ Gilded Age Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina is the perfect setting for the current Downton Abbey exhibition, San Francisco’s elegant Legion of Honor Museum is the perfect setting for this James Tissot retrospective, the first major international exhibition on Tissot in twenty years, and the first ever on the West Coast of the United States. A smaller replica of the imposing neoclassical Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, with its colonnaded courtyard, was completed in 1924, built on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate. While Downton-esque escapism may not be everyone’s cup of tea, an open mind may discover a cerebral, enigmatic artist with a heart-rending personal story.

Co-organized by the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Paris, the exhibition includes approximately 70 paintings from public and private collections in addition to drawings, prints, photographs, and cloisonné enamels, in an effort to provide a new perspective on James Tissot for visitors who are familiar with him – and, certainly, to provide an introduction for those who are not. Arranged “chrono-thematically,” the show’s galleries move us back and forth in time a bit to organize the work of a career that began in Paris in the 1850s, relocated to London from 1871 to 1882, and moved back to Paris, each era featuring its own subjects and styles.

The first gallery introduces us to Tissot’s work with his remarkably modern Self-Portrait (c. 1865), from the Legion of Honor’s collection. From there, it’s a visual feast of some of Tissot’s most gorgeous images, painted when he was at the height of his success in Paris prior to 1870 and then in London during the 1870s. These are smallish oil paintings, suited for collectors’ walls, some of which reflect the contemporary craze for Asian art: Young Women Looking at the Chinese Temple (1869), The Japanese Scroll (1872-1873), and The Fan (1875). The Partie Carrée (1870), painted in Paris before Tissot emigrated to England, shows his sexy side, while in a later gallery, Too Early (1873), exhibited at the Royal Academy, indicates his subsequent need to conform to the more prim tastes of the London market while also showcasing his flair for modern subjects and his unique wit. Surprises abound in this exhibition, and one in this gallery is Two Figures at the Door (The Proposal), (1872), previously unknown to contemporary scholars and displayed in public for the first time.

James Tissot, Fashion and Faith, Departure of the Prodigal, 1863

James Tissot (1836-1902). “le départ de l’enfant prodigue”. Huile sur toile. 1863. Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais. Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The next gallery features canvases from Tissot’s early years, when he painted “medieval” subject matter. These often were scenes from Goethe’s 1808 version of the legend of Faust, who sells his soul to Mephistopheles, the devil, in return for youth, knowledge and magical powers; Faust meets and seduces the beautiful and innocent Marguerite, who comes to an unhappy end. On another wall are images Tissot created during the Franco-Prussian War, when he defended Paris as a sharpshooter. The Wounded Soldier (c. 1870), a watercolor purchased by the Tate in 2016, is a singularly beautiful image of a restless young man in uniform perched on the arm of a sofa and quite possibly Tissot’s most sensitive, profound, and arresting work. He kept it in his studio all his life, never exhibiting it.

James Tissot, Fashion and Faith, wall with Femme a Paris

Installation view of James Tissot: Fashion & Faith at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, October 2019 Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

A capacious semi-circular gallery provides a dramatic display area for some of the fifteen large-scale oil paintings comprising Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series (Women of Paris, c. 1883-1885): The Shop Girl, Provincial Woman, The Bridesmaid, The Artists’ Wives, and The Ladies of the Chariots, an extravaganza of glittering circus performers on horseback under the electric lights of the Hippodrome de l’Alma, built in 1877 to accommodate up to eight thousand spectators. To the side is a smaller canvas, a study for a painting in the series called “The Sphinx” (Woman in an Interior), depicting the well-connected and artistic Louise Riesener, to whom Tissot was briefly engaged before she decided that he was too old for her.

James Tissot, Fashion and Faith, wall with Circle of the rue Royale

Installation view of James Tissot: Fashion & Faith at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, October 2019 Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

A gallery devoted to Tissot’s portraits overwhelms with stunning images of individuals who leap off the canvas like characters from a budget-busting Masterpiece Theatre drama chronicling the Second Empire and Victorian high life – the very modern and direct Mlle L.L. (1864), the cozy group of the Marquis and Marquise de Miramon and their children (1865), the Marquise de Miramon (1866) in her boudoir, wearing a luscious pink velvet peignoir, the pensive man of business Aimé Seillière (1866) with his coat over his arm as he heads out the door, and a highlight, Miramon lounging with eleven impeccably-tailored members of the exclusive Circle of the rue Royale (1868). There are outsized personalities, including the debonair and long-legged Captain Frederick Burnaby, the debt-ridden cad who was briefly Tissot’s art dealer, Algernon Moses Marsden, and, of course, the glowing, beloved and doomed Kathleen Newton.

James Tissot, Fashion and Faith, wall with Ball on Shipboard etc.

Installation view of James Tissot: Fashion & Faith at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, October 2019 Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

In another gallery, some of Tissot’s most iconic London pictures are displayed: The Captain’s Daughter (1873), The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874), London Visitors (1873-1874), The Letter (1874), The Thames (1875), Holyday (1876), Chrysanthemums (c. 1876), The Gallery of HMS “Calcutta” (Portsmouth) (c. 1876), Croquet (1877-1878), and Evening (also known as The Ball, 1878). Afternoon Tea (also known as In the Conservatory, 1874), is on display for the first time since 1955.

James Tissot, Fashion and Faith, Hide and Seek, 1877

James Tissot, “Hide and Seek,” ca. 1877. Oil on panel, 30 x 23.75 in. (73.4 x 53.9 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Chester Dale Fund 1978.47.1 Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The exhibition segues into joyful images of the domestic idyll at Tissot’s villa in St. John’s Wood, London, where the divorced Mrs. Newton’s children and nieces are shown scampering inside and out in paintings such as Hide and Seek (c. 1877), Kathleen Newton at the Piano (c. 1880-1881), and The Little Nimrod, c. 1882-1883. These merry, well-dressed children at play, with a loving mother, present a vision of a harmonious family life as appealing to us as it was to the Victorians. These scenes are followed on a more subdued note by sad images of Kathleen Newton in declining health.

James Tissot, Fashion and Faith, What Our Lord Saw from the Cross

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). What Our Lord Saw from the Cross, 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray-green wove paper, 9 3/4 x 9 1/16 in. (24.8 x 23 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

James Tissot, who moved from coastal Nantes to the capital city of Paris to study art and soon became immensely affluent and prominent, strove, failed, succeeded, fought, and suffered – along the way provoking envy and spite – and then repeated the cycle in London. He made friends easily but lost some, notably Degas, as well. Tissot was not venerated, even though he, at the end, aimed to be, because he expected to be remembered as the visionary illustrator of the Bible, which brought him unprecedented wealth and acclaim in the decades before his death. Never-before-published photographs of Tissot provide us a glimpse of his private life, in his later years, at his secluded château in eastern France with family and friends.

Holyday

James Tissot, French, 1836–1902 “Holyday” (The Picnic) , ca. 1876. Oil on canvas Image: 30 x 39 in. (76.2 x 99.4 cm) Frame: x in. (92.5 x 118.5 cm) Tate Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

In spite of the paintings of Mrs. Newton’s drawn-out death from tuberculosis, a scourge of the time that even Tissot could not disregard, and even including his praiseworthy images of soldiers during Franco-Prussian War, there is something optimistic about his oeuvre, with none of Degas’ misogyny or Manet’s demoralized barmaids or drunks. Tissot proved he could skewer those in power, as in his caricature of Napoléon III for Vanity Fair in 1869 – a year before the emperor sent France into an unwinnable war with Prussia. In Tissot’s portraits and his paintings of domestic bliss with Kathleen Newton, he portrayed people in their best light, while many of his pictures are notable for their psychological ambiguity or tension – moodiness, quarrels, shady situations, vulgarity, frustration, even anger – with a soupçon of urbane naughtiness and wit all his own. Ms. Buron observes that Tissot was generous to viewers of his oil paintings, providing exquisite details for them to enjoy.

James Tissot’s particular brand of truth, beauty, and humor was recognized by Vincent van Gogh, in an 1880 letter to his brother, Theo: “There is something of the human soul in his work and that is why he is great, immense, infinite…”

shot in studio

James Tissot, French, 1836–1902 “L’Apparition Médiunimique” (The Apparition), 1885 Mezzotint 25.375 x 19.375 in. (64.45 x 49.21 cm) Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 2001.26 Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The exhibition reaches its denouement in a small, final gallery highlighting the recently rediscovered oil painting, The Apparition (1885), showing the spirit of Kathleen Newton as Tissot experienced it during a séance. A wall of the gallery is lined with a selection of Tissot’s watercolor illustrations for The Life of Christ, their blend of mysticism and spiritualism the subject Ms. Buron has chosen for her Ph.D. thesis. In a corner vitrine is a more material contribution she has made to this retrospective: her own copy of the illustrated “Tissot Bible,” a gift from her husband.

The show is, beyond an important retrospective of a lesser-known artist’s work, a gift to us from a curator captivated and challenged by an intriguing individual so confident in his own talent that he declined Degas’ exhortation to exhibit with the Impressionists. This decision, along with his move to London, put James Tissot in the position of being neither fully a French painter nor a British one, and his reputation has suffered.

Yet as this exhibition so sumptuously demonstrates, Tissot’s legacy in our age is that faith and beauty will always be in fashion.

James Tissot: Fashion and Faith is co-organized by Paul Perrin and Marine Kisiel, Curators of Paintings at the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Paris, where the exhibition will be on view from March 23 through July 19, 2020, and Cyrille Sciama, Director of Musée des impressionnismes Giverny.

Related posts:

James Tissot’s Prints at the Zimmerli Art Museum

© 2019 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

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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.

On Holiday with James Tissot and Kathleen Newton in 1878, by Lucy Paquette for The Victorian Web

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “On Holiday with James Tissot and Kathleen Newton, by Lucy Paquette for The Victorian Web.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2019/07/15/on-holiday-with-james-tissot-and-kathleen-newton-in-1878-by-lucy-paquette-for-the-victorian-web/. <Date viewed.>

 

James Tissot and Kathleen Newton lived in relative seclusion during their years together in London, from about 1876 until her death from tuberculosis in late 1882, but they enjoyed numerous trips outside the city in 1878.

Partly, as an unmarried couple living together, they were not welcome in respectable company. Kathleen’s two children lived nearby with her sister, Polly, who brought them to visit at tea time. But Tissot spent a great deal of time painting at his home, and Kathleen was his primary model during these years. Still, they managed what essentially were working holidays, when he painted her while they enjoyed excursions to resort towns easily accessible from his villa in suburban St. John’s Wood, London.

Each of their destinations had its own attractions, described in contemporary travel guides.

Greenwich

In Greenwich, Tissot painted The Terrace of the Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich, London.

James Tissot, the-terrace-of-the-trafalgar-tavern-greenwich-london

The Terrace of the Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich, London (c. 1878), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 11 by 14 in. (27.94 by 35.56 cm). New Orleans Museum of Art.  (Photo: Wikiart.org)

On the south bank of the Thames, Greenwich was four miles from London by road and railway, and five or six miles by river from London Bridge; steamers ran every half hour. The parish of Greenwich had a population of 40,412 in 1871, and the town was an important manufacturing center, with engineering establishments, steel and iron works, iron steamboat yards, artificial stone and cement works, rope yards, a flax mill, and a brewery. The meandering streets,  less than picturesque at that time, held a market, a theatre, a literary institute, a lecture hall, public baths, banks, and twenty almshouses.

The glory of the town was Greenwich Hospital, a home for retired Royal Navy sailors until 1869, which commanded the view from the Thames. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, its Painted Hall contained a picture gallery that was free to the public on Monday and Friday, and four pence on other days.

Greenwich, Old_Royal_Naval_College_2017-08-06

Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_-_London_from_Greenwich_Park_-_Google_Art_Project

London from Greenwich Park, by J.M.W. Turner (1809), Tate. (Wikipedia)

James Tissot, Trafalgar Tavern etching

Trafalgar Tavern (1878), by James Tissot. Etching  & drypoint. Metropolitan Museum of Art; public domain.

Behind the Hospital, visitors could enjoy the beautiful 190 acres of Greenwich Park, and the view of the Royal Observatory above it. The park, designed on plans by King Louis XIV’s landscape architect, André Le Nôtre by commission of Charles II, had been magnificently terraced and planted with avenues of elms in 1664. It was now in a state of neglect but still had charming, distant views of London and the Thames for the crowds who came to enjoy the open air and the deer fearless enough to feed from visitors’ hands. On its summit was the Royal Observatory, founded by George III, and while this was not open to the public, there was an electric time-ball that fell every day at precisely 1 p.m., an electric clock, a standard barometer, and highly accurate standard measures of length for public use by the entrance gates.

The Trafalgar Tavern was one of four riverside inns operating at that time; all were known for their whitebait dinners – for diners with the means to enjoy the delicacy, seasoned with cayenne pepper and lemon juice. The Terrace of Trafalgar Tavern is inscribed “No. 1 Trafalgar Tavern/(Greenwich)/oil painting/James Tissot/17 Grove End Road/St John’s Wood/London/N.W.” on an old label on the reverse. The terrace provided extensive views of the ships on the Thames, all the way to London.

Gravesend

In 1878, the couple traveled a bit farther, to Gravesend, the setting for two versions of Waiting for the Ferry (1878).

Gravesend was accessible by numerous river steamers which conveyed crowds of passengers during the day, as well as by trains on the Tilbury Railway and the North Kent Railway; a steam-ferry transported visitors from Tilbury over to Gravesend. The trip was about 27 miles by river, or 24 miles by rail. By 1878, Gravesend had a population of 22,000, and the influx of summer visitors brought unexpected prosperity.

At that time, Gravesend fishermen hauled in shrimp in prodigious quantities, mainly for the London market, but the streets of Gravesend teemed with “tea and shrimp houses.” The formerly crowded, labyrinthine medieval old town boasted new and wider streets, and a new town with broad streets was lined with shops, homes, and lodging-houses.

While the churches and public buildings of Gravesend were of little interest to tourists, with the exception of the impressive Town Hall and the massive, “Collegiate Gothic” College for Daughters of Congregational Ministers, Milton Mount (built in 1872-73), there was a theatre, and the Assembly Rooms in Harmer Street, built in 1842 as a Literary Institute, featured a concert-room for one thousand persons, as well as billiard-rooms.

Gravesend_Town_Hall-geograph.org-3552497

Gravesend Town Hall (Wikimedia)

The Town Hall, near the center of High Street, was built in 1836 on the site of previous town halls, and was fronted by colossal Doric columns over which a pediment featured the town arms and statues of Minerva, Justice, and Truth. Beneath the Great Hall on the main floor was the market: A corn market was held in the town on Wednesdays, a general market on Saturdays, and a cattle market monthly.

Along the river, there were barge and boat building yards, iron foundries, rope walks, breweries, steam flour mills, soap and other factories. Beyond those were market gardens, renowned for asparagus and rhubarb, and cherry and apple orchards.

GravesendThames3370, Town Pier

Gravesend Town Pier (Wikipedia)

For visitors, the place to be was the Town Pier, with its 40-foot cast-iron arches extending 127 feet into the river. It was the landing for the London steamers and the location of the railway ticket office. Built in 1832, the Pier was covered in 1854 and featured sliding shutters on the sides, making it possible in any weather to stroll along the river. On summer days, a band played, and there were occasional balls. The favorite hotels, such as the Clarendon and the Roebuck, were located near the Pier. Bathing machines were within walking distance, and since Gravesend was the headquarters of the Royal Thames Yacht Club, watermen kept busy conveying passengers to and from the vessels anchored off the Club House on the Main Parade.

All in all, Gravesend offered plenty of entertainment to fill James Tissot’s and Kathleen Newton’s leisure hours.

Tissot painted three versions of Waiting for the Ferry, one in 1874 (Speed Museum, Kentucky), and two around 1878, at the dock beside the Old Falcon Tavern, Gravesend; Kathleen Newton modeled for the figures in only the latter two versions. She wears the same triple-caped greatcoat that Tissot portrayed her wearing in numerous other paintings, including The Terrace of the Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich, London.

James Tissot, waiting-for-the-ferry-1

Waiting for the Ferry (c. 1878), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 10 by 14 in. (26.7 by 35.6 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

James_Tissot_-_Waiting_for_the_Ferry

Waiting for the Ferry (c. 1878), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 9 by 13¾ in. (22.5 by 32.5 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

James Tissot_and_Newton, photo for Waiting for the Ferry

Photograph of James Tissot and Kathleen Newton (Wiki)

While this third version of Waiting for the Ferry [above] is said to have been painted around 1878, Kathleen Newton’s son, Cecil, was born in March, 1876, and he clearly is older than two or two and a half here. In fact, it must have been painted in 1882, when Tissot painted Cecil at about six in The Garden Bench, wearing the same knit cap and brown suit. That would make the young girl in this Waiting for the Ferry Lilian Hervey, Kathleen Newton’s niece, who was seven in 1882 [Kathleen’s daughter, Muriel Violet Newton, was born in December, 1871 and would have been about ten at this time, too old to be the girl shown in this version].

Tissot, Kathleen Newton, Cecil Newton, and Lilian Hervey posed for a photograph that gives some insight into how the artist composed this later version of Waiting for the Ferry, simply painting in the background from the previous version.

Ramsgate

The farthest the couple ventured on these excursions was Ramsgate, a seaside resort on the Kent coast, seventy-eight miles southeast of central London. There, Tissot painted Seaside (July: Specimen of a Portrait, 1878) and Room Overlooking the Harbour (c. 1878-79).

Ramsgate etching, Met

Ramsgate (1876), by James Tissot. Drypoint. Metropolitan Museum of Art; public domain.

Londoners could take the train from Victoria Station to Ramsgate on the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway. A travel guide of the time highly recommended this resort, population 12,000: “It is impossible to speak too favourably of this first-rate town, its glorious sands, its bathing, its hotels, libraries, churches, etc. etc. not forgetting its bracing climate.”

“The streets of Ramsgate are well paved or macadamized, and brilliantly lighted with gas.  There are banking establishments and a savings bank, with a literary institute, assembly-rooms, a small theatre, several good libraries, dispensary, town-hall, custom-house, music-hall, gas-works, water-works &c. An excellent promenade on the West Cliff has been laid out in an ornamental manner, and forms a delightful source of healthy recreation. The bathing-machines are under the East Cliff, where also, as well as in front of the harbor, there are well-appointed warm baths, &c. The markets are extremely well supplied with meat, excellent fish, &c.; and few places on the coast are so cheap, as well as healthy and agreeable for a summer’s residence.”

Vincent Van Gogh moved to Ramsgate in April, 1876, at age 23, to work as an assistant teacher in a boys’ school for a brief time. He wrote to his brother Theo, “There’s a harbour full of all kinds of ships, closed in by stone jetties running into the sea on which one can walk. And further out one sees the sea in its natural state, and that’s beautiful.”

Ramsgate_Sands

Ramsgate Sands in 1854, by William Powell Frith. (Wikipedia)

Ramsgate,_Kent,_England,_ca._1899, The Sands

Ramsgate Beach, Kent, England, c. 1890/1900 (Wikipedia)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe setting for Seaside was the Royal Albion Hotel near the shore of Viking Bay in Ramsgate, Built in 1791, Albion House sits atop the East cliff, with a sweeping view of the beach and the Royal Harbour. Princess Victoria stayed in one of its elegant rooms, ornamented with Georgian and Regency cornices, iron balconies, and shutter-panelled windows, before she was crowned Queen

Kathleen wears one of the prop gowns Tissot often used, a summery white gown trimmed with lemon-yellow satin ribbons that featured in a half-dozen of his oils in the mid-1870s, including A Portrait (1876, Tate Britain), A Convalescent (c. 1876, Museums Sheffield), A Passing Storm (c. 1876, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, New Brunswick), and Spring (c. 1878, private collection).

James Tissot, Seaside, or July, 1878 Cleveland OPEN ACCESS

Seaside (JulySpeciman of a Portrait, 1878), by James Tissot. Oil on fabric, 87.5 x 61 cm. Cleveland Museum of Art. Open Access.

Tissot exhibited Seaside, along with nine other paintings, at London’s Grosvenor Gallery – a sumptuous, invitation-only showcase for contemporary art in New Bond Street – in 1878, the year it was painted.

He made a copy (now in a private collection), showing Kathleen Newton wearing a tight blonde bun. He gave this version to Emile Simon, administrator of the Théâtre l’Ambigu-Comique at 2, Boulevard Saint Martin, Paris from 1882 to 1884. Simon sold it as La Réverie in 1905; this version of Seaside (also known as July, La Réverie, and Ramsgate Harbour) is signed and inscribed: “J.J. Tissot a l’am(i) E. Simon en bon Souvenir” (on the horizontal bar of the window frame). At some point, another artist painted a frizzy red hairstyle (probably considered more up-to-date) on Kathleen Newton.

James Tissot, Room Overlooking the Harbour

Room Overlooking the Harbour (c. 1878-79), by James Tissot. Oil on panel 25 by 33 cm, 10 by 13 in. Private collection. (Wikiart.org)

In Room Overlooking the Harbour (c. 1878-79), Tissot depicts Kathleen Newton going about her business while an older man (who could be a servant accompanying the couple) gamely models as well.

The picture has been held by the same family since 1933. In excellent condition, though needing to be cleaned and revarnished, it was sold at Sotheby’s, London on July 11 2019, for £ 400,000 (Hammer price).

Richmond

James_Tissot_-_By_the_Thames_at_Richmond, wiki

By the Thames at Richmond (1878-79), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 29.2 x 19.7 cm. Private collection. (Wikimedia)

In 1878-79, the couple traveled west to Richmond, a village on the south bank of the Thames, where Tissot painted By the Thames at Richmond (oil on canvas) and Richmond Bridge (oil on panel, 35.6 x 22.9 cm).

Baker_Street_tube_station,_1862 INCLUDE COPYRIGHT LINE from Wiki

Exterior view of Baker Street Metropolitan Railway station, 27 December, 1862, The Illustrated London News. [Wikipedia; this work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.]

Richmond, about nine miles by land from central London, was easily accessible by omnibuses running frequently from the City and West End. The trip was 16 miles by river, but because the Thames was too shallow there for steamers, the trip was usually made by railway – from the Waterloo, Vauxhall, and other stations. The District Railway connected Richmond to the London Underground in 1877, making the trip from Tissot’s villa near the Swiss Cottage Underground station (opened in 1868) possible.

Richmond_Bridge_from_west

Richmond Bridge from the west (Wikipedia)

Richmond_Bridge_lampRichmond Bridge, built of Portland stone between 1774 and 1777, began as a toll bridge, but tolls ended in 1859. Its five segmental arches, rise gradually to the tall, 60-foot wide central span which allowed vessels to pass through the tallest arch.

In Richmond Bridge, Kathleen Newton wears the green tartan gown from Room Overlooking the Harbour and The Warrior’s Daughter (The Convalescent, c. 1878, Manchester Art Gallery, U.K.).

In By the Thames at Richmond, she wears the striking, simple brown floral dress also worn in three oil versions (and one watercolor version) of La sœur aînée (The Elder Sister, c. 1881) and in The Garden Bench (c. 1882, private collection). The little girl is in the exact same pose and outfit as in the photograph above, painted in the third version of Waiting for the Ferry. The man uses his cane to trace “I love you” in the ground beneath the woman’s gaze.

Kathleen Newton, who died of tuberculosis in 1882, was depicted in a chaise-longue looking ill by Tissot in The Dreamer (Summer Evening, Musée d’Orsay ), c. 1876. While the secluded couple’s trips outside the city in 1878-79 must have been liberating escapes made possible by new forms of transportation, they also may have been just what the doctor ordered.

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

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

Bibliography

Baedeker, Karl. London and its environs, including excursions to Brighton, the Isle of Wight, etc.: handbook for travelers. Leipzig: Karl Baedeker, 1878.

Collins’ Illustrated Guide to London and Neighbourhood. London: William Collins, Sons, and Company, 1875.

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

Measom, George S. Official illustrated guide to the South-Eastern railway, and its branches. London: Reed and Pardon, c. 1860.

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

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

Paquette, Lucy. “Artistic intimates:  Tissot’s patrons among his friends & colleagues.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/artistic-intimates-tissots-patrons-among-his-friends-colleagues/. Web. 8 July 2019.

Paquette, Lucy. “The Artist’s Closet: James Tissot’s Prop Costumes.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/the-artists-closet-james-tissots-prop-costumes/. Web. 8 July 2019.

Paquette, Lucy. “The Art of Waiting, by James Tissot.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/the-art-of-waiting-by-james-tissot/. Web. 8 July 2019.

Sotheby’s. “Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art, 11 July 2019.” Lot 36, Condition Report. https://www.sothebys.com/en/buy/auction/2019/victorian-pre-raphaelite-and-british-impressionist-art/james-jacques-joseph-tissot-room-overlooking-the. 11 July 2019.

Thorne James. Handbook to the Environs of London, Part I. London: John Murray, 1876.

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

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

Related posts:

The Art of Waiting, by James Tissot

Victorians on the Move, by James Tissot

Tissot and Degas visit the Louvre, 1879

James Tissot Domesticated

© 2019 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

CH377762

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.

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.

Who was the Comtesse d’Yanville?

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “Who was the Comtesse d’Yanville?” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/who-was-the-comtesse-dyanville/. <Date viewed.>

 

Tissot’s pastel portrait, Comtesse d’Yanville and Her Four Children (c. 1895), was gifted to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts by Ruth and Bruce Dayton in 1997, but it is not currently on view. Measuring 53 3/16 by 49 1/2 in. (135.1 by 125.73 cm), the large work  shows the young countess in a richly decorated interior, surrounded by her children in white pinafores (left to right): Isaure and Simone in the background, and in the foreground, Daniel and Nicole. The woman in this aristocratic picture is wealthy and privileged, but she knew a great deal of heartbreak.

Comtesse_d’Yanville_and_Her_Four_Children,_by_James_Tissot

The Comtesse d’Yanville and Her Four Children (c. 1895), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Comtesse d’Yanville was Henriette-Marguerite Vivier-Deslandes (1864-1932), daughter of Baron Émile-Auguste Vivier-Deslandes (1832-1917) and Émilie Caroline Simone Hélène Oppenheim (1840-1866), a woman of German origin who died when she was two.

Portrait_du_Dr_Gérard_Encausse_(dit_Papus)_-_Auguste-Émile_Deslandes, 1899

Portrait of Dr. Gerard Encausse, dit Papus (1899), by Baron Deslandes.

Her father, who was born in Florence, Italy, was in his youth a French naval officer who received the Médaille Militaire, was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1858, and became an administrator and diplomat.

A descendent of Pauline Bonaparte, sister of Napoléon I, he was created the first Baron Vivier-Deslandes by Napoléon III in 1862, the year of his marriage, through the resurrection of an extinct family title.

His maternal grandmother, Angelica Catalani (1780-1849) had been painted by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. He became a painter who by 1894 was an associate of the Society of French artists, exhibiting in the Salon as Baron Deslandes.

In 1886, his daughter Marguerite married Marie Thibaud Pierre Henry Coustant, the second Comte d’Yanville (1865-1951), a sportsman who soon became a prominent coach racer, photographed many times for Universal Sport Illustrated. He participated in the Paris-Deauville excursion of 1905.

The couple quickly had four children, beginning with three daughters: Simone (1887-1963), Isaure (1888-1966), and Nicole (1889-1977).

Chevalier_légion_d'honneurTheir son, Daniel, was born in late 1890, and was killed in action weeks before his twenty-fourth birthday on November 4, 1914, at Mont-Kemmel, Heuvelland (Belgium). He was a Second Lieutenant in the 5th Dragoon Regiment and is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris. He was characterized as earnest, upright, and devoted to his country. His father said as he was leaving to fight for his country, “Pray God that you may come back safe”, and Daniel responded “No! Pray rather that I may do my duty, and more than my duty.” Daniel was well regarded by the men he led, according to an account by The Beaumont Union, and he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. When breaking the news of his son’s death to Comte d’Yanville, his Colonel called him “a young officer full of gaiety, vigour and courage who rightly looked forward to a brilliant future.” He was struck by a shell and killed instantly.

Daniel’s name lived on. His sister, Simone, married Guy de la Mure Riviera (1870-1957) in 1908. They had two daughters and two sons, the younger of whom was Daniel de Rivière de la Mure (1913-1994).

Daniel’s sister, Isaure, was married in 1920 to Comte Gaston Christyn de Ribaucourt (1882-1961). Like her mother, she had three daughters and one son, Comte Daniel Robert Henry Adolphe Christyn de Ribaucourt (1922-2007).

Leaving many descendants, the Comtesse d’Yanville, Henriette-Marguerite Vivier-Deslandes, died at her home in 56 rue des Saints-Pères, Paris on October 18, 1932, at the age of 68. Tissot’s image of her as a beautiful young mother, wearing a pale pink gown and surrounded by her four happy children, lives on.

Related posts:

Belle Époque Portraits in Pastel by James Tissot

Paris, 1885-1900

Portrait of the Pilgrim: James Tissot’s Reinvention (1885-1895)

Portrait of the Pilgrim: “not necessary or advisable to start a controversy” (1896-1898)

Portrait of the Pilgrim: “a dealer of genius” (1899-1900)

 

© 2019 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

CH377762

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.

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 “Embarkation at Calais”

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “A Closer Look at Tissot’s “Embarkation at Calais”.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2019/05/15/a-closer-look-at-tissots-embarkation-at-calais/. <Date viewed.>

 

James Tissot began a follow-up series to his 1883-85 series of large-scale paintings, La Femme à Paris (The Parisian Woman), to be called L’Etrangère (The Foreign Woman), but he only completed two canvases. The first, L’Esthétique (The Aesthetic Woman, or In the Louvre, 1883-1885), entered the renowned Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian art collection of the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1962.

The other, La Voyageuse (The Embarkation at Calais, or The Traveller, 1883-1885), is in the collection of the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (The Royal Museum of Fine Arts), Antwerp, and I was able to view it a few weeks ago. It is a large picture, measuring 146.5 by 102 by 1.7 cm (57.7 by 40.2 by .7 in.), and it is known there as The Embarkation at Calais.

Embarkation at Calais, KMSKA, copyright Hugo Maertens

James Joseph Jacques Tissot, Embarkation at Calais, KMSKA, Photo: Hugo Maertens

In this lively scene, a beautiful, fashionable, and confident woman descends a ship’s gangplank unaccompanied, surrounded by fellow travelers, sailors, and laborers. You can hear the shouts and sounds of the dock workers, the thumping footfall of the porter bearing her trunk, and the din of the genteel stampede behind her.

goodbye-on-the-mersey

“Goodbye” – On the Mersey (c. 1881), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

In mid-1871, following the Franco-Prussian War and the bloody days of the Commune, James Tissot moved to London.

Around 1876, he met Kathleen Newton, who moved in with him and became his principal model. Mrs. Newton, a divorcée with two children, died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882, at age 28, at Tissot’s villa in suburban St. John’s Wood.

Immediately after her funeral on November 14, Tissot returned to Paris, beside himself with grief [see James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death.]

The Embarkation at Calais seems to portray an English woman, connected with his images of Kathleen Newton travelling [see Victorians on the Move, by James Tissot].

In fact, if you look closely just behind the woman’s head, you’ll see a ghostly figure of a woman wearing Mrs. Newton’s distinctive triple-caped greatcoat and high black bonnet. The face is not Kathleen’s though; it’s as if Tissot has put her unforgettable garb on some anonymous stand-in.

Ghost of Kathleen Newton

Arthur_d'Echérac_(Bracquemond_1883)

Portrait of Arthur d’Echerac (1883, etching), by Félix Barcquemond.

The Embarkation at Calais was exhibited at Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris, in 1885. In 1903, about twenty years after Tissot painted it, it was donated to The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp by Belgian art collector, art dealer, and critic Paul Leroi (Léon Gauchez 1825-1907).

It is interesting that Leroi, who from 1875 to the year of his death co-published the illustrated weekly magazine, L’art, owned this picture; in 1885, L’art printed an unflattering review of Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series by G. Dargenty [pseudonym of the sculptor, public administrator and art critic Arthur Auguste d’Echérac (1832-1919)] that referred to the central figures as “graceful puppets put into movement on the stage where they are used to performing, who call for neither commentary nor notes, inspire neither admiration nor repugnance nor desires, and are content to be interesting and pleasant to see.”

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp has been closed for renovation since late 2011. Tissot’s painting, displayed in Antwerp, the Netherlands, and Honfleur, France over the past decade and a half, was last exhibited in public in “James Tissot: 1836-1902” (September 26, 2015 – February 21, 2016), held at the Palazzo Montoro in Rome, Italy. Now in storage in the museum’s facility in Kallo, about twenty minutes outside Antwerp in the harbor, it was made available for me to view by the accommodating staff.

IMG_1586, edited

My embarkation at Antwerp, in the splendid Central Station (c. 1905)

IMG_1563                             IMG_2567 (2)

At first glance, it is an odd picture for Tissot – cheerless, using the thick, dry pigment that characterized his La Femme à Paris series but in a dark palette of browns, greys and blues with touches of burnt sienna for contrast. It’s as if Tissot has lost his direction, attempting to soldier on in the vein of the unsuccessful La Femme à Paris but without the passion that animated that project.

He had left his shining, enameled Academic style behind when he emigrated to England in mid-1871, but in this painting, there is none of the palpable self-confidence, exuberant brushwork, or wit, that characterized his best work throughout the 1870s, and in his remaining years with Kathleen Newton. Yet in its myriad vignettes, Tissot still shows his fascination with individual faces and human emotion. Even dejected and directionless, he can’t create a composition that doesn’t brim with life. This is the quality that Vincent van Gogh described in a letter to his brother, Theo, on September 24, 1880:

“A discerning critic once rightly said of James Tissot, ‘He is a troubled soul.’  However this may be, there is something of the human soul in his work and that is why he is great, immense, infinite…”

The museum staff kindly shared a high-resolution image for this article, so let’s get a good look at some of Tissot’s details.

Calais porter, top left

In his expression, his shoulders and his hands, we can see how the porter strains under his heavy load.

Soldier in background

The crowd on the pier is so detailed, it seems copied from a photograph.

Background couple

A rather smug-looking couple glances curiously at the central figure – or at us?

Crowd in background, top right

A young mother protectively hurries her two little daughters through the throng.

Dock worker, far right

A dock worker squats, his strong hands anticipating the next task.

Dock workers, bottom right corner

The captain automatically offers his hand, though the lady is managing well on her own, while the laborers to his right go about their business.

Calling worker's hands

We can tell how loudly this worker must shout to be heard.

Rope puller, lower left corner

Another dock worker quietly concentrates on the job at hand.

Lady's feet

We see no heels on the lady’s narrow leather boots, and so she appears to float.

Lady's plaid skirt, blanket detail

Tissot again demonstrates his love of painting plaid.

The Lady's gloves

The lady’s movement is suggested by the wrinkles in her gloves and the drape of her skirt.

Lady's head

A beautiful face, a self-possessed demeanor.

The lady, full length

There is something ethereal about this veiled woman, so weightless on those tiny feet, and strangely detached from the humanity surrounding her. Is she alone, or is the mysterious, headless man behind her actually with her? Overall, this is an unexpectedly haunting and somewhat sad painting of what it feels like to be lonely in a crowd of strangers: everyone is busy with their own tasks and emotional life, and not one of these people is engaged with any of the others. There is a strong sense in The Embarkation at Calais that, rather than portraying the life around him, James Tissot was inadvertently portraying his own psychological state at this time, between Kathleen Newton’s death and his imminent, abrupt reincarnation as a Bible illustrator. The Embarkation at Calais is significant in that this was Tissot’s last painting of “modern life.”

With special thanks to the following staff

at Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen:

Fleur Van Paassen, Registrar

Johan Willems, Depot Manager

Madeleine ter Kuile, Imaging Manager

© 2019 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

Related posts:

James Tissot’s “A Civic Procession” (c. 1879)

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

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

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

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

CH377762

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.

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.

 

Portrait of the Pilgrim: “a dealer of genius” (1899-1900)

To cite this article, Paquette, Lucy. “Portrait of the Pilgrim: “a dealer of genius” (1899-1900).” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/portrait-of-the-pilgrim-a-dealer-of-genius-1899-1900/. <Date viewed.>

 

James Tissot, having devoted years researching and completing his Life of Christ illustrations, did not leave his reputation to his friends.

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Sermon_of_the_Beatitudes_(La_sermon_des_béatitudes)_-_James_Tissot

The Sermon of the Beatitudes (La sermon des béatitudes, 1886-1894), by James Tissot. Watercolor. Brooklyn Museum. (Wikimedia.org)

In March, 1899, an eleven-page article on Tissot and his Christianity and art appeared in McClure’s Magazine. Written by Cleveland Moffett, a 36-year-old American journalist, the article was based on personal interviews with the artist, now 62, over several weeks.

It begins with a long shot of Tissot’s lone figure on a cliff, standing in rugged travel garb with his hands at his hips, surveying a vast desert landscape, over the caption, “The Place where the Sermon on the Mount was Pronounced” – along with a reproduction of Tissot’s watercolor, The Sermon on the Mount (right), showing the same landscape, this time crowded, with Jesus standing on the spot where Tissot was photographed. The awestruck Moffett extols Tissot’s “vigor” and describes him at the outset: “the spiritual quality in this distinguished artist is one of his most striking characteristics. Not only is he deeply religious in his daily life, but he is something beyond that: he is a mystic and a seer of visions.”

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Procession_in_the_Streets_of_Jerusalem_(Le_cortège_dans_les_rues_de_Jérusalem)_-_James_Tissot

The Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem (Le cortège dans les rues de Jérusalem, 1886-1894), by James Tissot. Watercolor. Brooklyn Museum. (Wikimedia.org)

Moffett described Tissot’s earlier career, supplanted by his new religious fervor: “And now in the East a star of guidance shone out clear, a sign in the heavens beckoning this man, calling him to Jerusalem, and he heard the call and answered it.”

Moffet recorded Tissot’s anecdotes of his travels. In November, 1886, approaching Jerusalem in the rain, Tissot reprimanded the guide for suggesting a short cut: “Do you think I have traveled two thousand miles to have my first impression spoiled? Do you think I have come here like a scampering tourist?”

Tissot also told Moffett how he painted his pictures – and that “many of his best pictures were never painted at all, because the very gorgeousness of the scene made it slip from him as a dream vanishes, and it would not come back. ‘Oh,’ he sighed, ‘the things that I have seen in the life of Christ, but could not remember! They were too splendid to keep.’”

Brooklyn_Museum_-_What_Our_Lord_Saw_from_the_Cross_(Ce_que_voyait_Notre-Seigneur_sur_la_Croix)_-_James_Tissot

What Our Lord Saw from the Cross (Ce que voyait Notre-Seigneur sur la Croix, 1886-1894), by James Tissot. Watercolor. Brooklyn Museum. (Wikimedia.org)

In 1900, Tissot entered into partnership with the McClure Company of New York to publish The Life of Christ, previously published in New York by L. Weiss & Co. (1896-97) and Doubleday (1898).

Tissot’s talent for publicizing his piety while monetizing his Christianity did not sit well with some of his friends.

Edmond de Goncourt, a cynical observer of those around him and whose novel, Renée Mauperin (1884), Tissot had illustrated, did not find him credible; Goncourt wrote in his journal in January, 1890, “Tissot, this complex being, with his mysticism and cunning, this intelligent worker, despite his unintelligent skull and his eyes of a cooked whiting, was passionate, finding every two or three years a new passion, with which he contracted a new little lease on his life.”

Edgar Degas, once one of Tissot’s closest friends, had a different reaction to his success: fury. He wrote in a letter to Ludovic Halévy, “Now he’s got religion. He says he experiences inconceivable joy in his faith. At the same time he not only sells his own products high but sells his friends’ pictures as well…To think we lived together as friends and then…Well, I can take my vengeance. I shall do a caricature of Tissot with Christ behind him, whipping him, and call it Christ driving His Merchant from the Temple. My God!”

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Merchants_Chased_from_the_Temple_(Les_vendeurs_chassés_du_Temple)_-_James_Tissot

The Merchants Chased from the Temple (Les vendeurs chassés du Temple, 1886-1894), by James Tissot. Watercolor. Brooklyn Museum. (Wikimedia.org)

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Bad_Rich_Man_in_Hell_(Le_mauvais_riche_dans_l'Enfer)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall

The Bad Rich Man in Hell (Le mauvais riche dans l’Enfer, 1886-1894), by James Tissot. Watercolor. Brooklyn Museum. (Wikimedia.org)

While Tissot was not alone in selling works bought from Degas or received from him as gifts, he did sell at least two. In 1890, Tissot sold Degas’ Horses in a Meadow (1872) for an unknown amount to art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who kept it until his death in 1922. Durand-Ruel actually had purchased the picture from Degas in 1872 and sold it in January, 1874 for under 1,000 francs to Paris opera baritone Jean Baptiste Faure (1830-1914). Faure returned it to Degas, who gave it as a gift to James Tissot. Several years later, on January 11, 1897, Tissot sold a painting that Degas had given him as a gift in 1876, right after finishing it – a portrait of a woman named Lyda, titled Woman with Binoculars. Tissot received 1,500 francs from Durand-Ruel for the picture; Durand-Ruel sold it to H. Paulus that November for 6,000 francs. After keeping the picture for over twenty years, why did Tissot sell it – especially for a mere 1,500 francs when it was worth four times that? [Tissot sold Manet’s Blue Venice in 1891, possibly at a profit, after Manet’s 1883 death had made his work valuable; he bought it on March 24, 1875 for 2,500 francs, after the two painters had traveled to Venice together, and Manet badly needed the income.]

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Goes_Up_Alone_onto_a_Mountain_to_Pray_(Jésus_monte_seul_sur_une_montagne_pour_prier)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall

Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray (Jésus monte seul sur une montagne pour prier, 1886-1894), by James Tissot. Watercolor. Brooklyn Museum. (Wikimedia.org)

But any profit realized by the sale of these paintings paled in comparison to the income the French painter in the English business suit was earning from his own work.

In 1900, at the end of the North American tour, James Tissot’s Life of Christ water-colors and pen-and-ink drawings were purchased by the rapidly expanding Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, now the Brooklyn Museum, as advised by the painter John Singer Sargent. Sargent referred to Tissot as “a dealer of genius,” but the museum’s trustees wanted to attract the crowds that flocked to Tissot’s exhibitions.

Tissot set the price for these 540 works – he refused to allow them to be sold separately – at the substantial price of $60,000. The money was raised by public subscription.

According to the museum’s website, “Every two or three days, newspaper headlines in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle urged the borough to ‘Bring the Tissot Pictures Here.’ The Eagle published the names of the donors and the amounts they had pledged toward the acquisition, which the paper described as ‘the most important contribution to the knowledge of the life of Christ that has been given to mankind in the form of art since the creations of the great masters of the Italian, Spanish and Dutch schools of painting.’” Subscriptions flowed in at the rate of $300 – $1,000 per day for several months.

In 1992, the Brooklyn Museum acquired a sketchbook of studies Tissot made during his research trips to the Middle East.

Tissot’s Life of Christ illustrations, not currently on view, were last exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 2009-2010.

© 2019 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

Related posts:

Portrait of the Pilgrim: James Tissot’s Reinvention (1885-1895)

Portrait of the Pilgrim: “not necessary or advisable to start a controversy” (1896-1898)

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

CH377762

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.

 

Paris, 1885-1900

To cite this article: “Paris, 1885-1900.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/paris-1885-1900/. <Date viewed.>

 

April 1 is my birthday, and I write an annual April Fool’s Day post, so here’s something fun: an illustrated timeline of James Tissot’s life in Paris during La Belle Époque. It puts him in the context of his time, and it provides us a little escapism.

woman-of-fashion-la-mondaine-1885

La Mondaine (The Woman of Fashion), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 58 by 40 in. (147.32 by 101.60 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

1er_juin_1885_-_Enterrement_Victor_Hugo

Cortège toward the Panthéon with Victor Hugo’s coffin, Paris, June 1, 1885 (Wikipedia.org)

In 1885, Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series was exhibited at Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris, along with his collection of the cloisonné enamels he created. Upon his return to Paris after living in England for eleven years following the Franco-Prussian War, he intended this series to reestablish his place in the French art world, but it was not well received.

June 1, 1885 was a day of national mourning for the death of poet and novelist Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885), revered as a national hero for his passionate defense of democracy as well as his contributions to French culture. He had requested a pauper’s funeral but was given a state funeral, and more than two million people followed his coffin as the cortège carried it from the Arc de Triomphe to the Panthéon, where he was buried.

Forain_-_The_tightrope_walker

The Tight-Rope Walker (c. 1885), by Jean-Louis Forain. Art Institute of Chicago. (Wikimedia.org)

Two days before Hugo’s death, Tissot participated in a séance in London, where he exchanged kisses with an apparition he believed to be his late mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854–1882).

During this year, he became engaged to Louise Riesener (1860 – 1944), daughter of painter Léon Riesener, but she was 25 and he was 49, and she changed her mind.

Tissot also had a brief romance with a tightrope walker in a Paris circus.

Tissot joined the new Société de pastellistes français and exhibited his work. From the mid-1880s to the early 1890s, he executed about forty portraits of aristocratic and Society women, most often in pastel.

Clotilde Briatte, Comtesse Pillet-Will, James-Jacques-Joseph Tis

Portrait of Clotilde Briatte, Comtesse Pillet-Will (c. 1883 – 1885), by James Tissot. Pastel on linen. Private collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Caricature_Gustave_Eiffel

Caricature of Gustave Eiffel, Le Temps, February 14, 1887.

In 1886, Tissot exhibited his La Femme à Paris series at Arthur Tooth and Sons, London as “Pictures of Parisian Life by J.J. Tissot”; they were not well received. In Paris, he exhibited with the Société d’aquarellistes français.

But in 1885, James Tissot had a religious revelation, in the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris, and he decided he would dedicate the rest of his life to illustrating of the Bible. Between October 1886 and March 1887, he traveled to the Middle East to research his illustrated Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ  visiting sites in Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria to make his work as authentic and realistic as possible.

While Tissot was abroad, work began on an iron tower on the Champs de Mars, to be a centerpiece for the 1889 Exposition Universelle: the foundations of the Eiffel Tower were laid in late January, 1887. A “Committee of Three Hundred” – the most important figures in the cultural life of France – protested that this “gigantic black smokestack” would dominate Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and other monuments in Paris “in this ghastly dream.”

There is no indication of Tissot’s opinion on Eiffel’s tower; the United Kingdom, rather than Paris, seemed to be his focus. In 1887, he exhibited at least one painting, Waiting for the Ferry at the Falcon Tavern (1874), at Nottingham Castle and at Newcastle-on-Tyne, and in 1888, he exhibited three works at the International Exhibition, Glasgow.

Construction_tour_eiffel4

Eiffel Tower: Installation of the pillars above the first level (May 15, 1888). (Wikimedia.org)

Construction on the Eiffel Tower was proceeding steadily, and by the end of the year, Tissot would have been able to see it from the villa he had built in 1867 near the entrance to the Bois de Boulogne, at the far west end of what is now avenue Foch.

In 1888, Tissot’s father died, leaving him the Château de Buillon, near Besançon, in eastern France. During his remaining years, Tissot lived partly at his villa in Paris and partly at the Château.

Central_Dome_of_the_Gallery_des_Machines_Exposition_Universelle_de_Paris_1889_by_Louis_Beroud_1852_1930

Central Dome of the World Fair in Paris, 1889 (1890), by Louis Béroud (Wikimedia.org)

But Tissot exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889, winning a gold medal for his Prodigal Son series.

Paul_Renouard_-_Café_Tortoni

Café Tortoni (1889), by Paul Renouard. (Wikimedia.org)

Bérard_Gloppe

La Pâtisserie Gloppe au Champs-Élysées (1889), ), by Jean Béraud. (Wikipedia.org)

Le_bar_de_Maxim's_par_Pierre-Victor_Galland_(A)

The Bar at Maxim’s (c. 1895), by Pierre-Victor Galland. (Wikimedia.org)

Henri_de_Toulouse-Lautrec,_At_the_Moulin_Rouge

At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance (1889-90), by
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Wikipedia.org)

It seems unlikely that Tissot avoided the sophisticated delights of Paris, including its café culture, but in 1889, he left for his second journey to the Middle East to research his illustrated Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In 1893, focusing on the art market beyond France, he exhibited in the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, displaying his Prodigal Son series and one of his pastel portraits.

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Goes_Up_Alone_onto_a_Mountain_to_Pray_(Jésus_monte_seul_sur_une_montagne_pour_prier)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall

Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray (Jésus monte seul sur une montagne pour prier, 1886-1894), by James Tissot. Watercolor. Brooklyn Museum. (Wikimedia.org)

Alphonse_Daudet_Vanity_Fair_11_March_1893

Caricature of Alphonse Daudet, Vanity Fair, March 11, 1893.

But after his long absence as a prominent artist in Paris, James Tissot stole the show at the Salon of 1894.

He exhibited 270 of the ultimate total of 365 drawings for La Vie de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ (The Life of Christ).

The pictures were given a gallery and a special catalogue. The public reaction was astonishing: one headline read, “THE CHAMP DE MARS SALON; JAMES TISSOT’S LIFE OF CHRIST A MARVELOUS SERIES. Women Weep as They Pass from Picture to Picture.”

Tissot’s achievement was the talk of Paris; at a dinner party on May 6, 1894 given by Tissot’s longtime friends Alphonse and Julia Daudet, celebrated writer Émile Zola said he was “captivated” by Tissot’s Bible illustrations.

the-princesse-de-broglie

The Princesse de Broglie (c. 1895), by James Tissot.

poster-for-victorien-sardou-s-gismonda-starring-sarah-bernhardt-at-the-théâtre-de-la-1894.jpg!PinterestSmall

Gismonda (1894), by Alphonse Mucha (Wiki)

James Tissot’s presence at Robert, Comte de Montesquiou’s extravagant “fête littéraire” at Versailles in 1894, along with princes and princesses, counts and countesses, indicates that Tissot socialized among the upper echelon of Parisian Society, where he found many of the subjects for his pastel portraits.

On January 1, 1895, Parisians awoke to find a startling, life-sized advertisement for Victorien Sardou’s play Gismonda starring Sarah Bernhardt at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris posted on the streets.

Designed by an unknown Czech, Alphonse Mucha, the poster almost immediately was pulled down by collectors.

summer.jpg!Large

Summer (1878), by James Tissot.

Alfons_Mucha_-_1896_-_Summer

Summer (1896), by Alphonse Mucha.

The new style, or Art Nouveau, was emerging throughout Europe, inspired by the natural, curving lines of plants and flowers. It influenced the decorative arts, architecture, interior design, jewelry, furniture, and fashion. James Tissot’s “modern art” of the 1870s and 1880s was completely outdated, and his realization of this must have contributed to his dedication to his Bible illustrations, which he considered historical accurate and therefore timeless.

In 1895, Tissot exhibited his entire series of 365 Life of Christ illustrations in Paris, and he exhibited the next year in London. La Vie de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ was published in France, and he received a million francs for the reproduction rights. In 1896, he made a third trip to the Middle East, this time to begin an illustrated Old Testament (which would be published in 1904, two years after his death).

Clément_Maurice_Paris_en_plein_air,_BUC,_1897,146_Boulevard_Bonne-Nouvelle._Devant_la_rue_de_la_Lune

Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, in front of rue de la Lune (1897), by Clément Maurice, PARIS, Paris en plein air, Le Beau Pays de France. (Wikimedia.org)

Clément_Maurice_Paris_en_plein_air,_BUC,_1897,072_L'Heure_des_fiacres

L’heure des fiacres (1897), by Clément Maurice, PARIS, Paris en plein air, Le Beau Pays de France. (Wikimedia.org)

About this time, Tissot began work in Paris on a colossal Christ Pantocrator for the high altar of the convent church of the Dominicans in the rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

In 1897, he exhibited his Life of Christ illustrations at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and The Life of Our Saviour Jesus Christ was published in London and New York. In December, there was a dedication ceremony for his completed Christ Pantocrator.

Eglise_du_couvent_de_l'Annonciation_06

The church of the convent of the Annunciation, built in 1860: No. 222 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honore, Paris 8th. Christ Pantocrator painted by James Tissot and installed in 1897. (Wikimedia.org)

Eglise_du_couvent_de_l'Annonciation_02

Interior of the church of the convent of the Annunciation. (Wikimedia.org)

Paris, in preparation for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, was growing: the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais were under construction as exhibition halls, and the Alexandre III bridge and the Gare d’Orsay were being built to facilitate the movement of the influx of visitors.

But James Tissot was busy arranging the North American tour of his Life of Christ illustrations. In February, 1898, he visited New York, and in October, he traveled to Chicago, then returned to New York for the opening of his exhibition. His New Testament watercolors toured New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, Boston, St. Louis, Omaha, and other cities through 1899, to adoring crowds.

Camille_Pissarro_003, rain

Place du Théâtre Français, Paris: Rain (1898), by Camille Pissarro. Minneapolis Museum of Art. Minneapolis Museum of Art. (Wikimedia.org)

Exposition_univ_1900The Exposition Universelle was held in Paris from April 14 to November 12, 1900, and nearly fifty million people visited it.

James Tissot, now 64 years old, did not display any of his work.

In 1900, at the end of the North American tour, Tissot’s Life of Christ water-colors and pen-and-ink drawings were purchased by the rapidly expanding Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, now the Brooklyn Museum; the museum’s trustees wanted to attract the crowds that flocked to Tissot’s exhibitions. Tissot set the price at $60,000, an enormous sum that was raised by public donations.

Gare-d'Orsay-BaS

Gare d’Orsay, Paris, Paris-Orléans railway, c. 1900 (Wikipedia.org)

Pont_Alexandre_III

Pont Alexandre III, Paris, c. 1900.  (Wikipedia.org)

Le_Petit_Palais_3,_Exposition_Universelle_1900

Le Petit Palais, c 1900 (Wikimedia.org)

Le_Chateau_d'eau_and_plaza,_Exposition_Universal,_1900,_Paris,_France

View of the Champ-de-Mars towards the Château d’eau, Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900.  (Wikimedia.org)

Vue_panoramique_de_l'exposition_universelle_de_1900

Panoramic view of the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900. (Wikipedia.org)

Joaquín_Pallarés_Allustante_Porte_Dauphine_Bois_de_Boulogne_1872

Porte Dauphine at the Bois de Boulogne, by Joaquín Pallarés Allustante (Wiki)

Beginning in 1898, the Paris Métro was under construction. Hector Guimard (1867 – 1942) designed roofed Art Nouveau entrances to the various métro stations. One, the Porte Dauphine station, was built adjacent to Tissot’s villa in the avenue du Bois de Boulogne. Opened in 1900, it is the only original (not reconstructed) Guimard Métro station entrance still on its original site. It was restored in 1999.

James Tissot died in 1902. It is believed that his Paris villa, once visited by “all the princes and princesses,” was demolished in 1906.

Porte_Dauphine_photo_gallery_no.1

Art Nouveau entrance to the Porte Dauphine Métro station in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, designed by Hector Guimard and opened in 1900. (Wikipedia.org)

© 2019 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

Related posts:

Belle Époque Portraits in Pastel by James Tissot

Paris, June 1871

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

Paris c. 1865: The Giddy Life of Second Empire France

The James Tissot Tour of Paris

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

James Tissot, the painter art critics love to hate

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

CH377762

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.

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.