Tag Archives: Alfred Stevens

The Company He Kept: James Tissot’s Friends

If a person can be known by the company he keeps, James Tissot’s friends indicate he was charming, broad-minded and cultured, interested in music and literature as well as art, resourceful, and unafraid of change.  Described as reserved, he had a strong work ethic and spent a great deal of time working in his studio.  But he seems to have made friends easily and maintained numerous mutually satisfying relationships over many years – with both men and women, of varied ages, religions, backgrounds, and temperaments.

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James Tissot, age 20-21

Jacques Joseph Tissot’s first friend may have been his mother.  When he realized that what he really wanted was a career in art instead of architecture, his businessman father was less than thrilled.  His father told him that if he was determined to pursue this unreliable profession, he was going to have to make it on his own – with no financial help.  But his mother found a connection for him in Paris, and Jacques left home at 19, in 1856 (i.e before he turned 20 that October).

Within three years of his arrival in Paris, Tissot was ready to exhibit his work at the Salon.  Competing with established artists, the 23-year-old student submitted five entries for the Salon of 1859.  The jury accepted them all, including Portrait de Mme T…, a small oil painting of his mother.  With her belief in him, his career in the capital of the European art world was launched.

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James Whistler

When Jacques Joseph Tissot exhibited in the Salon, it was as James Tissot – and it’s likely he borrowed the name from another young art student, James Whistler.

It is thought that when Tissot registered for permission to copy paintings at the Louvre on January 26, 1857, he met the pugnacious American James McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903), reportedly while copying Ingres’ 1819 Ruggiero Freeing Angelica side by side in the Luxembourg Museum.

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Self-Portrait with White Collar (c. 1857), by Edgar Degas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Photo by Lucy Paquette)

In 1859, Tissot met another art student, with whom he became close friends – Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917).  Degas, the curmudgeonly son of a prosperous banker from Naples and a mother from New Orleans, had spent the previous three years traveling in central Italy.  Probably through Degas, Tissot soon met the charismatic, restless Édouard Manet (1832–1883).

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Lawrence Alma-Tadema

In 1859, Tissot traveled to Antwerp, augmenting his art education by taking lessons in the studio of Belgian painter Hendrik Leys.  There he made friends with a young Dutch art student working with Leys, Lourens Tadema (1836 – 1912; the painter moved to London in 1870 and restyled himself Lawrence Alma-Tadema).

Alma-Tadema’s personality combined middle-class sensibilities with a ribald sense of humor.  He was an extrovert who loved wine, women, music, and practical jokes.

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Édouard Manet

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Emmanuel Chabrier, by Édouard Manet

Though still living in the dilapidated Latin Quarter at 29, Tissot was enjoying increasing professional success and was described as a boulevardier – a man-about-town.  In addition to painters, his friends included the poet Camille-André Lemoyne (1822 – 1907), “a man of modesty and merit” who dedicated a published poem, “Baigneuse,” to Tissot in 1860, and composer, pianist and bon vivant Emmanuel Chabrier (1841 – 1894), whose portrait Tissot drew in 1861.  His circles often overlapped; Chabrier, for example, was friends with Degas and Manet as well.

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John Everett Millais

In 1862, Tissot traveled to London, where the first exhibition of his work was at the International Exhibition.  He showed one of his début paintings from the Paris Salon of 1859, and he must have met Britain’s most popular painter, John Everett Millais (1829  1896).  Warm-hearted, boyish, and boundlessly self-confident, Millias had a wife and five children to provide for by this time.  He found a steady source of income drawing illustrations, for periodicals such as Once a Week and The Cornhill Magazine as well as Tennyson’s Poems (1857) and Anthony Trollope’s novel Framley Parsonage (1860).  James Tissot, at 26, having inherited his parents’ business sense, was exploring a new art market and making useful contacts.

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Alphonse Daudet

In 1863, Tissot became close friends with Alphonse Daudet (1840 – 1897), a young writer who had published a volume of poetry (The Lovers) in 1858, and who rented the room below him in the rue Bonaparte.  Daudet, who was kind, hard-working, generous and sociable, was employed as a secretary to the Duc de Morny, the Emperor’s illegitimate half-brother who served as a powerful appointed minister.  He eventually became wealthy from his novels, in which he wrote about the poor and downtrodden with sympathy, and his friendship with Tissot was a lifelong one.

In 1864, the year Millais was elected a member of the Royal Academy, Tissot again exhibited work in London:  two pictures on display at the Society of British Artists, and a small oil painting at the Royal Academy Exhibition.  In France, Tissot associated, loosely, with a band of artistic rebels led by Manet – men who met at the Café de Bade to debate the purpose of art and express their frustration with the rigidity of the Paris art Establishment.  But Tissot was a traditionalist at heart.  He must have admired Millais – as a man, as a painter, and as a successful businessman.  In 1865, Tom Taylor’s Ballads and Songs of Brittany was published in London, illustrated by several artists including Millais and Tissot, who provided the Frontispiece and further widened his reputation in Great Britain.

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Ernest Meissonier

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Ferdinand Heilbuth

In 1866, the thirty-year-old artist bought land to build a villa on the most prestigious of Baron Haussmann’s grand new Parisian boulevards, the eleven-year-old avenue de l’Impératrice (now avenue Foch).  By the Salon of 1868, Tissot had occupied his newly built, elegant mansion in the splendid avenue, the place to see and be seen amid the heady delights of life in the imperial capital.  But an early biographer asserted that there were no parties or receptions in this home, as Tissot dreaded the noise; he hosted only quiet gatherings with intimates such as Degas, eminent painter and sculptor Ernest Meissonier (1815 –1891), and painter Ferdinand Heilbuth (1826 – 1889).

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Alfred Stevens

Tissot and wildly successful Belgian painter Alfred Stevens (1823 –1906) moved in the same social circle, which included Manet, Degas, Frédéric Bazille, Berthe Morisot and Whistler as well as Alma-Tadema.  Stevens and his wife held regular receptions at their home on Wednesdays.  Tissot may have preferred quiet evenings with his friends in his new villa, but in early 1868, he scribbled a hurried message to Degas on the back of a used envelope when he found Degas away from his studio:  “I shall be at Stevens’ house tonight.”  He had dropped by to give Degas advice on finishing a problematic painting-in-progress, Interior (The Rape) before the Salon deadline.

Tissot appears to have been content to live well and maintain a fairly low profile in the art world he had conquered within a decade of his arrival as a provincial art student.  Oddly, there are almost no references to Tissot in letters, journals or accounts of his chatty friends and acquaintances during this time, even though his studio was a chic gathering place, and it is likely he visited crowded, gossipy weekly soirées such as those hosted by Madame Manet (Edouard’s formidable mother) on Tuesdays, the Stevenses on Wednesdays, and Madame Morisot (Berthe’s formidable mother) on Thursdays.

In 1869, Tissot began contributing political cartoons to the newest Society journal in London, Vanity Fair, founded by Thomas Gibson Bowles (1841 – 1922).  Tommy Bowles was the illegitimate son of Thomas Milner Gibson (1806 – 1884), a Liberal MP for Manchester and President of the Board of Trade from 1859 to 1866, and a servant, Susannah Bowles.  Tommy’s father (and even his father’s wife, Arethusa Susannah, a Society hostess who was the daughter of Sir Thomas Gery Cullum of Hardwick House, Suffolk, and their six children) acknowledged him.  Tissot, at 33, was famous in Paris.  Tommy, a handsome blue-eyed blonde, was five or six years younger and making a name for himself, even in France, with his controversial articles in London’s Morning Post.

It is strange, the life Tissot led – an exclusive address and titled patrons in Paris and yet close friends with the individualistic, struggling Edgar Degas (who ceased to exhibit in the Salon after this year, due to his discontent with it), the illegitimate and irreverent London publisher Tommy Bowles, and the renegade James Whistler, who was considered belligerent and uncouth by this time.

It seems that James Tissot was a peaceable, refined, and multifaceted gentleman, truly his own man – in a world about to implode.

The Franco-Prussian War united Tissot and Tommy Bowles, who raced to Paris as a war correspondent.  Because there were not enough French troops, a National Guard – a volunteer militia independent of the regular army – was forming to defend Paris.  On Friday, September 9, 1870, Tommy was surveying the scene of Garde Mobile squads drilling or wandering around along the avenue de l’Impératrice [near James Tissot’s sumptuous villa at No. 64], “when my hand was suddenly seized, and I found myself talking to one of my smartest Parisian friends [James Tissot] who had donned the blue uniform like everybody else.  He was delighted to see me.”  Tissot gamely promised that if there was a sortie, he would make sure that Tommy had the chance to see some action.  [Tissot scholar Willard E. Misfeldt learned that James Tissot actually had enlisted in the Garde Nationale de la Seine, the Fourth Company of the Eighteenth Battalion, in 1855 – as soon as he had arrived in Paris at age 19.]

In early October, military operations blocked access to Tissot’s new villa, and he turned up at Bowles’ rented apartments.  Tommy observed affectionately of his friend, “We neither of us have got any money left, but we propose to support each other by our mutual credit…and to share our last rat together.  Meantime we are not greatly to be pitied.  Our joint domestic, Jean, one of those handy creatures yet to be invented in England, makes our beds, scrubs the floor, brushes the clothes, cooks like a cordon bleu, and is, as we believe and fervently hope, capable of producing any explanation or invention that may be required by persons in search of payment.  He has been especially successful as regards meat.”  The British journalist and the French painter shared a mischievous sense of humor, numerous dangerous sorties – and strong survival instincts.

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The Tirailleurs de la Seine at the Battle of Rueil-Malmaison, 21st October 1870 (1875), by Étienne-Prosper Berne-Bellecour. (Oil on canvas, 103×203 cm; Château de Versailles, France; Giraudon). Photo courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” by Lucy Paquette © 2012

On October 21, 1870, the men in Tissot’s unit – the Éclaireurs of the Seine, an elite unit of scouts and snipers (tirailleurs) – “one and all Parisians of the purest type” according to Tommy Bowles – were sent to fight in the Battle of Malmaison (also referred to as the Battle of Rueil-Malmaison, or La Jonchère, for the nearby towns), west of Paris.  [See James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71.]

During the war, James Tissot fought with valor on the front line, and he later volunteered as a Red Cross stretcher-bearer.  Then he became involved in the bloody civil uprising that followed, the Paris Commune.  He fled to London with a hundred francs in his pocket.  There, he had plenty of friends to help him rebuild his life.

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Chichester Fortescue

Besides Tommy Bowles, there was Frances, Countess Waldegrave (1821 – 1879), an influential Liberal Society hostess whose fourth and final husband was Chichester Fortescue (1823 – 1898), an Irish MP, who became Lord Carlingford.  Tissot may have met her through Millais, who frequented her salons.  She shared Tissot’s interest in spiritualism and painting, and at some point, Tissot painted her portrait in her boudoir.  (The portrait, whereabouts unknown, was not considered a good likeness.)

In 1871 – shortly after Tissot fled Paris – the charming and “irresistible” Countess Waldegrave pulled strings to get Tissot a lucrative commission to paint a full-length portrait of Fortescue, which was funded by a group of eighty-one Irishmen including forty-nine MPs, five Roman Catholic bishops and twenty-seven peers to commemorate his term as Chief Secretary for Ireland under Gladstone – as a present to his wife.

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Ouida

Tissot also was friendly with Society novelist Ouida (Maria Louise Ramé, 1839 – 1908); on June 19, 1871, she sent him an invitation to visit on June 21, with the promise that “some English artists will enjoy the great pleasure of meeting you & seeing your sketches.”  Described as having a “sinister, clever face” and a “voice like a carving knife,” Ouida lived in the Langham Hotel, where surrounded by purple flowers, she wrote on large sheets of violet-colored notepaper in bed by candlelight.  Her lavish soirées included celebrities such as Oscar Wilde, J.E. Millais. Algernon Charles Swinburne, and Wilkie Collins, along with dozens of handsome guard officers.

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

Once Tissot moved to London in 1871, he continually sought “British” subject matter, always offering it up with a French twist.  He soon found a friend in Captain John Freebody (1834 – 1899), master of the Arundel Castle from 1872-73, when he took emigrants to America.  Captain Freebody’s wife, Margaret Kennedy (1840 – 1930), modeled for The Captain’s Daughter, set at the Falcon Tavern in Gravesend.  Tissot exhibited The Captain’s Daughter, as well as two other paintings [The Last Evening (1873) and Too Early (1873)], at the Royal Academy in 1873.

Two other paintings featuring Margaret Kennedy are in a private collection:  Boarding the Yacht (1873) and The Captain and the Mate (1873), in which Margaret’s older brother, red-bearded Captain Lumley Kennedy (1819 – 1899), and her sister posed as well.   Tissot, having grown up in the bustling seaport of Nantes, where his father was a successful wholesale linen draper (a trader in fabrics and dress trimmings to retailers and exporters), must have felt quite comfortable with sailors and their families.

Within a few years of hard work and help from such friends, Tissot bought the leasehold to a house in St. John’s Wood, at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road, and built an extension with a studio and a conservatory.  A handsome and talented 35-year-old Parisian, he earned and returned the respect of intelligent and capable women.

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Louise Jopling

British painter Louise Jopling (1843 – 1933) lived in Paris from 1865 to 1869, when her ne’er-do-well husband, Frank Romer, was sent packing by his employer, Baron de Rothschild.  Louise had been painting with the encouragement of the Baroness, a watercolor artist, and after moving to London, Louise continued painting despite numerous hardships.  Her work was exhibited at the Royal Academy exhibitions after 1870, and she met “that extraordinarily clever French artist, James Tissot,” when his
picture, Too Early, “made a great sensation” at the 1873 exhibition.  Tissot gave her a sketch of Gravesend he made that year.  In her 1925 autobiography, Louise wrote of him, “James Tissot was a charming man, very handsome.”

Louise proved to be an excellent source of information on Tissot’s personality, including this anecdote about a day they spent with Ferdinand Heilbuth.  She wrote, “Heilbuth was a delightful man as well as an excellent painter.  He was a great friend of Tissot…One day, before I was married, he arrived at my studio and said he had a letter from Tissot, who begged him to come round to me and try to induce [my sister] Alice and I to come spend the day at Greenwich where he was painting his charming pictures of scenes by the Thames.  I was to bring my sketching materials.  I had promised [my fiancé] Joe to give him a sitting for my portrait, but it was much too delightful a project not to be accepted with fervor.  I wired to Joe, “Called out of town on business.”

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Berthe Morisot, by Édouard Manet

Berthe Morisot (1841 – 1895) also appreciated Tissot.   He socialized frequently in 1875, inviting Berthe Morisot to dinner at his home in St. John’s Wood when she was in England for her honeymoon.  She wrote to her sister, Edma Pontillon, “We went to see Tissot, who does very pretty things that he sells at high prices; he is living like a king.  We dined there.  He is very nice, a very good fellow, though a little vulgar.  We are on the best of terms; I paid him many compliments, and he really deserves them.”

During the same trip, Berthe wrote to her mother, “[I was dragged out of bed] just now by a letter from Tissot – an invitation to dinner for tomorrow night.  I had to get up and ransack everything to find a clean sheet of paper in order to reply.”  Later, she added, “He was very amiable, and complimented me although he has probably never seen any of my work.”

In 1873, Tissot joined the Arts Club in Hanover Square, and in 1875, Italian painter Giuseppe De Nittis (1846 –1884) wrote to his wife, Léontine, “I saw Tissot at the club, he was very nice, very friendly.”

In 1874, Degas invited both Tissot and De Nittis to display their work in the first exhibition by the French artists who would become known as the Impressionists.  Tissot was achieving success in London and declined, but De Nittis accepted.

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Sir Julius Benedict

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Self-Portrait, Giuseppe Di Nittis

Another member of the Arts Club with whom Tissot was friendly was Sir Julius Benedict (1804 – 1885), the German-born composer and conductor who is portrayed as the pianist in Tissot’s Hush! (The Concert, 1875).  The son of a Jewish banker, Benedict became a naturalised Englishman and was knighted in 1871.

After spending several weeks in Venice with Manet, Tissot dined at his friend Jimmy Whistler’s three-storey townhouse in Lindsey Row, Chelsea on November 16, 1875 with Alan S. Cole (1846 – 1934, a lace and textile expert who was the son of Sir Henry Cole, the first director of the South Kensington Museum, now the V&A), independent-minded, outspoken painter Albert Moore (1841 – 1893) and Captain Crabb (commander of The Brazilian in 1870) on topics such as “ideas on art unfettered by principles.”

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George Adolphus Storey

On December 7, Tissot returned to dine with Jimmy, his patron Cyril Flower (1843 – 1907, later Lord Battersea), and painter George Adolphus Storey (1834 – 1919); they conversed on the works of Balzac.

Storey, in his 1899 memoirs, described a high-spirited “railway picnic party” in 1873 with men he referred to as intellectuals:  Tissot, Heilbuth, Philip Hermogenes Calderon, R.A. (1833 – 1898), George Dunlop Leslie, A.R.A. (1835 – 1921), David Wilkie Wynfield (1837–1887), William Yeames, A.R.A. (1835 – 1918), Frederick Walker (1840 – 1875), editor Shirley Brooks (1816 – 1874) and “the Punch men,” pianist, conductor and composer Frederic Hymen Cowen (1852 – 1935), and a host of others returning from a grand house party in Manchester hosted by art dealer William Agnew (1825 – 1910).  Opera star Charles Santley (1834 – 1922), Storey added, “sang us many of his delightful songs.”

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

As desirable he was as a guest, Tissot must have enjoyed entertaining in his turn.  Louise Jopling noted of Tissot, “At one time he was very hospitable, and delightful were the dinners he gave.  But these ceased when he became absorbed in a grande passion with a married woman.”

Around 1876, Tissot met Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882), an Irish divorcée in her early twenties with a four-year-old daughter and a son born on March 21, 1876.  [See James Tissot’s Model and Muse, Kathleen Newton and Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?]  Being Roman Catholic, Tissot and Kathleen could not marry, but she moved into his house in St. John’s Wood.

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Sir Charles Wyndham

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Sir Henry Irving

Kathleen’s two children lived with her sister’s family around the corner, and they and their cousins visited Kathleen and Tissot regularly.  Tissot’s social life drastically changed, and he must have judged his love affair with the discarded young beauty well worth the sacrifice.  Though cohabitation was common in Victorian England, especially in bohemian circles, it was not socially acceptable to most people in the middle and upper classes.

Though Tissot and Mrs. Newton were not invited out, their friendship was valued, and plenty of lively friends sought their company.  One of Kathleen’s nieces, interviewed as an adult, recalled, “Whistler and Oscar Wilde, with his brother Willie, were constant visitors,” as were actor Henry Irving (1838 – 1905), actor-manager Charles Wyndham (1837 – 1919), and actress Miss Mary Moore (1860 – 1931, who became Wyndham’s second wife in 1916, the year he was widowed).  Tommy Bowles, his longtime friend, remained a frequent visitor and introduced others including landscape painter William Stone (c. 1840 – 1913), who “often had tea in the garden with Tissot and the lady.”  Stone, perhaps revealing the essence of Tissot’s charm, observed, “Tissot was quite a boulevardier and could not grasp our somewhat puritanical outlook.”

© 2017 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:

On his own: Tissot as a Paris art student, 1855 — 1858

James Tissot & Tommy Bowles Brave the Siege Together: October 1870

James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71

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

James Tissot and Alfred Stevens

James Tissot: Portraits of the Artist

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.

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What became of James Tissot and Alfred Stevens?

Note:  This is the second part of an earlier post, James Tissot and Alfred Stevens

By 1867, James Tissot (1836 – 1902), like his older friend and mentor, Alfred Stevens (1823 – 1906), was a wealthy easel painter, well-connected and prominent in Paris, both depicting the affluent life of Second Empire France.

A Duchess (The Blue Dress, c. 1866), by Alfred Stevens. The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. (Photo: Wikicultured.com)

At the Rifle Range (1869), by James Tissot. Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, U.K. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

They were so successful that the painter Henri Fantin-Latour warned James Whistler that Stevens and Tissot would imitate his Symphony in White No. 3 (1865-67), sent to Paris in 1867.

After his success at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1867, when Stevens exhibited eighteen paintings, he was promoted to Officer of the Legion d’honneur.  According to Berthe Morisot, he was earning about 100,000 francs a year.  He had moved several times, always to a more luxurious home.

In late 1867 or early 1868, Tissot moved into the splendid new villa he had built near the recreational grounds at the Bois de Bologne, at the west end of the chic avenue de l’Impératrice [now avenue Foch].

But abruptly, everything changed.  On July 15, 1870, Napoléon III, Emperor of the French, heeding his advisors in a diplomatic quarrel regarding the succession to the Spanish throne, declared war on Prussia – and its well-equipped and impeccably-trained army.

Because there were not enough French troops, a National Guard – a hastily-organized, inexperienced militia protecting Paris – was forming to defend Paris.  Every able-bodied Frenchman enlisted.  The volunteers were mostly assigned tasks such as standing guard at the city walls or public buildings.

Stevens, the son of a former officer under France’s first Empire, was a Belgian citizen but asked the Mayor of France to join the National Guard, saying, “I have been in Paris for twenty years, I married a Parisian, my children were born in Paris, my talent, if I have it, I owe it largely to France.”  Now 47, he was assigned to a unit which did not see much action.

On Friday, September 9, James Tissot was among the squads drilling along the avenue de l’Impératrice (near his sumptuous, three-year-old villa).  [Tissot scholar Willard E. Misfeldt learned that James Tissot actually had enlisted in the Garde Nationale de la Seine, the Fourth Company of the Eighteenth Battalion, in 1855 – as soon as he had arrived in Paris at age 19.].

On September 19, 200,000 Prussian troops encircled Paris in attempt to starve the French into submission.  By October 22, James Tissot was armed and fighting on the front line – as well as saving lives as a Red Cross stretcher-bearer.

In the months following the Franco-Prussian War and its bloody aftermath, the Paris Commune, Stevens convinced art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel to purchase over twenty canvases by Edouard Manet, one of his many friends.

The Game of Croquet (La Partie de Croquet, 1873), by Edouard Manet. Painted in Alfred Stevens’ garden; Stevens is the figure in the yellow jacket. Städel Museum, Frankfort, Germany. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Grand Canal, Venice (Blue Venice, 1875), by Edouard Manet. Shelburne Museum, VT. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

James Tissot moved to London and rebuilt his career.  By 1873, he was living in a large house in St. John’s Wood, and in 1875, he built an extension with an elegant studio.  That fall, he traveled to Venice with Edouard Manet and his wife, Suzanne, and he bought Manet’s The Grand Canal, Venice (Blue Venice, 1875).

Tissot did not marry, but from 1876, his young mistress lived with him.  When she died of tuberculosis in November, 1882, Tissot left her two children by one or more previous relationships and moved back to Paris, where he attempted to reclaim his earlier renown.

Upon Manet’s death in 1883, the pallbearers at his funeral included Stevens, Zola, Proust, Duret, Fantin-Latour and Monet, but not James Tissot.  Stevens helped to organize Manet’s memorial exhibition a year later.

Stevens, who had married Marie Blanc, a wealthy Parisian, in 1858 and had four children (two of whom also became painters), continued to live extravagantly in Paris.  There he was discovered by several prominent American collectors, including railway mogul William Henry Vanderbilt (1821 – 1885), Baltimore liquor wholesaler William T. Walters (1820 – 1894), and New York sugar refiner Theodore A. Havemeyer (1839–1897).

Sarah Bernhardt (1882), by Alfred Stevens. Photo: http://www.the-athenaeum.org)

Around 1875, Stevens moved into a sumptuous 18th century residence at 65, rue des Martyrs, near Place Pigalle, with a large English garden.  Stevens’ studio was styled to resemble a large Japanese cabinet, with walls of dull gold, black and gold lacquered doors, gilded furniture, and a Japanese shrine.  Over the embroidered, white silk window-shades hung gold brocade draperies, the floors were covered in Oriental carpets, and the windows overlooked a large English garden.  He collected antiques, Old Masters paintings, and Japanese prints and objets d’art including kimonos, parasols, fans, screens and porcelains.

Stevens received writers, painters, musicians and theater people, and he frequented the Café Tortoni and the Café Riche.  He started a private atelier which drew wealthy students including Sarah Bernhardt [and incidentally, it is thought that they were lovers].  In 1878, Stevens was promoted to Commander of the Legion of Honor and received another first-class medal at the Salon.

Le salon du peintre (The Painter’s Salon, 1880), by Alfred Stevens. Private Collection. (Photo: http://www.the-athenaeum.org)

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Rue Alfred Stevens, Paris. (Photo: Lucy Paquette)

In 1880, railroad manager William Kissam Vanderbilt (1849 – 1920) visited Stevens’s studio, saw Le salon du peintre (1880), and bought it on the spot for 50,000 francs.  But that year, Stevens was dispossessed as a result of road work during urbanization; he was paid 300,000 francs, and a nearby passage was named rue Alfred Stevens.  That year, he was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, and his doctor advised him to spend summers at the seaside.  Stevens went to Sainte-Adresse in Normandy, and art dealer Georges Petit offered him a contract for 50, 000 francs a year for three years, for his entire output of marine paintings.  This was a stroke of fortune that helped Stevens fund his trips.  Flirting with Impressionism, he made oil sketches of the sea and the coast under changing weather conditions.

Lighthouse at Dusk, by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

During Tissot’s eleven years in London, he had declined Edgar Degas’ invitation to show his work with the artists who became known as the Impressionists.  Now back in Paris, he exerted himself to re-establish his reputation 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.

The Ladies of the Chariots (c. 1883-85), by James Tissot. Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

What Our Lord Saw From the Cross, by James Tissot. Brooklyn Museum, New York. (Photo: Wikimedia.org).

The project ended in 1885 with Tissot’s ambition to illustrate the Bible.  He traveled to the Holy Land that year, and again in 1889 and 1896, to make detailed drawings and notes of locations and details, taking photographs as well.  He produced 365 illustrations for the New Testament, of which 270 were exhibited at the Salon du Champ-de-Mars in 1894, causing women to fall to their knees with reverence and sob.  The illustrations were shown in London in 1896, again in Paris in 1897, and in America in 1898, when they raised over $100,000 in entrance fees and were purchased for $60,000 by the Brooklyn Museum.  The Life of our Lord Jesus Christ, illustrated by James Tissot, was published in France in 1896-97 and later in England and America.  Tissot was paid one million francs for the reproduction rights.  He still owned his house in Paris, and lived with style there and at the château near Besançon, France, that he had inherited upon his father’s death in 1888.  He spent increasing time there, working on illustrations of the Old Testament; English painter Louise Jopling (1843 – 1933) expressed the belief in her 1925 autobiography that Tissot had joined a Trappist monastery in Rome.

In 1886, Stevens published Impressions sur la peinture, (Impressions on Painting) which later was published in English and American editions.

But he also was involved in a greater work.

In 1883, painter Henri Gervex (1852 – 1929, perhaps best known for his 1878 painting, Rolla) conceived an idea for a joint project with Alfred Stevens for the Paris World Fair of 1889:  a grand panorama to be called History of the Century 1789-1889.  It would depict over 660 life-size figures of significant French men and women from one hundred years of French history between the Revolution to the present.  With a team of fifteen assistants that included Stevens’ son, Léopold, the resulting painting was 20 meters (65 ft.) high and had a circumference of 120 meters (nearly 400 ft.).  It was exhibited in a specially constructed rotunda in the Tuileries Gardens.

The History of the Century (detail), 1889, by Alfred Stevens, Henri Gervex, and a team of assistants. (Photo: http://www.the-athenaeum.org)

After the Exposition, the rotunda was pulled down.  No permanent installation could be found for the painting due to its size, and it was cut into 65 sections and distributed among various locations.  Only two-thirds of the sections have been preserved.  In addition to the photographs and twelve heliogravures from 1889 that captured the complete panorama, Stevens made four small sketches representing the whole panorama (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels) [also signed by Gervex for the sake of courtesy].

At the Salon du Champ de Mars in 1890, Stevens showed eleven works; in 1891, fourteen works; and in 1892 sixteen works.

His younger brother, Arthur, died in 1890, his wife, Marie, died in 1891, and his older brother, Joseph, in 1892.  In 1895, Stevens returned to Brussels with the intention of settling there, but when he applied for the vacant position of Director of the Brussels Academy, he was rejected.   In 1896, he returned to Paris and a year later, in need of money, tried to sell his replicas of the Panorama.

After an accidental fall at age 76, in 1899, Stevens was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.  He lived in a few rooms in the avenue Trudaine, near Place d’Anvers.  He had four works in the Exposition Universelle in Paris In 1900.  Greatly respected and beloved by his peers, he also was given a special tribute with a retrospective at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he exhibited 205 pictures.  [Incidentally, there has not been an exhibition of Stevens’ work in Paris since this date.]  Stevens was the first living painter accorded this honor, and he also was the only living artist represented at the Retrospective Exposition of Belgian Art in Brussels, with thirty-one paintings.  [Click here for an image of Alfred Stevens from 1900.]

Portrait of the Pilgrim (c. 1886-1896), by James Tissot. Brooklyn Museum, NY. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Ninety-five of James Tissot’s Old Testament illustrations were exhibited at the Salon du Champ-de-Mars in 1901, the last time his work was exhibited in Paris.  He died at age 65 the following summer after catching a chill outdoors at his château, and his illustrations toured America.  They were later purchased by the New York Public Library and passed to the Jewish Museum.

After a lifetime devoted to art, from which he had earned immense wealth, a sale of the effects from Tissot’s studio in 1903 resulted in the dispersal of his pictures and prints at very low prices.  Following the death of his elderly niece, the contents of the decrepit château near Besançon were auctioned off in November, 1964.

After Alfred Stevens’ death in 1906 at the age of 83, his obituary in a Boston newspaper extolled his genius and observed, “He was king of the boulevard in his day.”

James Tissot and Alfred Stevens, virtually forgotten for decades after their deaths, now are known for their entrancing images of the opulence of Paris life under the Second Empire.

“It all comes down to the degree of life and passion that an artist manages to put into his figure.  So long as they really live, a figure of a lady by Alfred Stevens, say, or some Tissots are also really magnificent.”

~ Vincent Van Gogh, in a letter to his brother, Theo, 1885

Related posts:

James Tissot and Alfred Stevens

Degas’ portrait: Tissot, the man-about-town, 1867

“Hurling towards the abyss”: The Second Empire, 1869

James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71

Paris, June 1871

Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2015.  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.

James Tissot and Alfred Stevens

James Tissot’s work often is compared to that of Belgian painter Alfred Stevens (1823 –1906).

Alfred Stevens, 1865. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Stevens was born in Brussels, where he received his first artistic training.  His father was an art collector, and his maternal grandparents ran a café that was a gathering spot for politicians, writers, and artists.  Stevens’ elder brother, Joseph, was a painter, and his younger brother, Arthur, became an art critic and a dealer based in Paris and Brussels who advised the King of the Belgians.

Stevens’ father died in 1837, when he was fourteen, and in 1844, he went to Paris.  He stayed with a friend, the painter Florent Joseph Marie Willems (1823–1905) and attended the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  He studied under Camille Roqueplan (1802/03 – 1855), a friend of his father.

Stevens first exhibited his work in 1851, with four historical paintings at the Salon in Brussels.  The next year, he settled in Paris.  In 1853, at 30, he made his debut at the Salon there with three paintings; he won a third-class medal for Ash-Wednesday Morning, which was purchased by the Ministry of Fine Arts for the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Marseilles.  A year later, he also exhibited his first painting of modern life, The Painter and his Model [see below], at the Salon in Antwerp.  In 1855, Stevens exhibited six paintings at the Exposition Universelle in Paris and won a second-class medal.  Within a few years, he and his elder brother, Joseph, had become widely known and accepted in the Paris art world.

Lady at a Window, Feeding Birds (c. 1859), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

James Tissot, c. 1855-62. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Jacques Joseph Tissot’s parents were self-made, prosperous merchants and traders in the textile and fashion industry in Nantes, a bustling seaport on the banks of the Loire River, 35 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.  Tissot left Nantes at 19, in 1856 (i.e. before he turned 20 that October).

In the spring of 1857, he enrolled at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, though there is little documentation on the regularity of his attendance at classes, which included mathematics, anatomy and drawing, but not painting.  Tissot studied painting independently under Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (1809 – 1864) and Louis Lamothe (1822 – 1869); both men had been students of the great Neoclassical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867), and taught his principles.

In 1858, Stevens married Marie Blanc, who came from a wealthy Belgian family who were old friends of the Stevens family.  Eugène Delacroix, whose paintings were among those that Stevens’ father collected, was one of the witnesses at the ceremony.

Promenade dans la Neige

Promenade dans la neige, by Tissot

Within three years of his arrival in Paris, Tissot was ready to exhibit his work at the Salon.  Competing with established artists, the 23-year-old Jacques Joseph Tissot – likely borrowing the name from a new friend, the American artist James McNeill Whistler – submitted his paintings to the jury under the name James Tissot.  Two of Whistler’s prints were accepted by the jury for exhibition in the Salon of 1859, but his strikingly original oil painting, At the Piano, was rejected, while five of Tissot’s entries were accepted, one called Portrait de Mme T…, a small painting of his mother.  There was another small portrait (Mlle H. de S…), and two designs for stained glass windows.  The fifth painting was Promenade dans la Neige, which depicted a young medieval couple taking a winter’s walk and caused one critic to wonder if Tissot was amusing himself by placing student work in a frame.  Of the medieval subject matter, the critic sniped at the young artist, “What are you, blind to the life around you?”

Faust and Marguerite (a study for The Meeting of Faust and Marguerite), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 6.10 by 8.66 in. (15.50 by 22.00 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

However, Tissot and his painting, Le Recontre de Faust et de Marguerite (The Meeting of Faust and Marguerite) attracted the attention of the Comte de Nieuwerkerke, Director-General of Museums, who purchased the painting by an order of July 17, 1860 on behalf of the government for the Luxembourg Museum for 5,000 francs.  This was a huge honor for the very young artist, who exhibited the painting at the Salon in 1861.

In the 1860s, Stevens became immensely wealthy due his paintings of stylish and refined contemporary parisiennes, characteristically in luxurious private residences, but occasionally in religious settings.

Le bouquet (c. 1861), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

In Memoriam (c. 1861), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: http://www.the-athenaeum.org)

Les rameaux (Palm Sunday, c. 1862), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Stevens exhibited Les rameaux (Palm Sunday, c. 1862), at the Paris Salon in 1863 (and again at the Exposition Universelle, the world’s fair, in Paris in 1867).

In 1863, when he was forty, Stevens received the Legion of Honor (Chevalier) from the Belgian government.

Princess Mathilde Bonaparte’s salon at 24 rue de Courcelles, Paris (1859), by Giraud Sébastien Charles (1819-1892). Musée national du château de Compiègne. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Among the places where Alfred Stevens and his brother, Joseph, socialized were the crowded literary and artistic receptions held weekly by Napoléon III’s cousin, Princess Mathilde.  There, he may have met the young James Tissot; another of Tissot’s new friends, the writer Alphonse Daudet, (1840 – 1897), attended these soirées as well.

Tissot made a name for himself at the Salon in 1864, exhibiting portraits from modern life that were highly praised:  The Two Sisters may have been a double portrait; the elder model reappears in Portrait of Mademoiselle L.L.   

The Two Sisters (1863), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Portrait of Mademoiselle L.L. (1864), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Tissot’s work first showed the influence of Alfred Stevens at the Salon of 1866, with Le Confessional, which was described by a critic as “perhaps a little too much in the style of Alfred Stevens.”

Leaving the Confessional (1865), by James Tissot. (Photo: http://www.the-athenaeum.org)

Considering that Stevens began his career with a painting very much in the style of his friend, Florent Willems (compare the two paintings below), he must have enjoyed Tissot’s homage and certainly did not discourage it.

Painter at his easel shows his work to a girl (1852), by Florent Joseph Marie Willems (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Painter and his Model (1855), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tissot received a medal at the Salon of 1866 which made him hors concours, entitled to exhibit from now on without the jury’s scrutiny, and with this official recognition came financial success.  Tissot now was 29 and Stevens was 43.

At the Salon in 1867, Tissot exhibited Jeune femme chantante à la orgue (Young Woman Singing to the Organ), depicting a fashionable woman singing a duet with a nun in a church’s organ loft and The Confidence.  Both owe a debt to Alfred Stevens – although perhaps Stevens’ In the Country (c. 1867) [see below] owes something to Tissot’s The Two Sisters (1863).

The Confidence (1867), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

In the Country (c. 1867), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

At the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1867, Stevens exhibited eighteen paintings, including La dame en rose (Woman in Pink, 1866), and he won a first-class medal; he was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honor and invited to an Imperial ball at the Tuileries Palace.  Tissot exhibited Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née Thérèse Feuillant, a stunning portrait of the wife of one of his new, aristocratic patrons.  The 30-year-old Marquise wears a pink velvet peignoir while leaning on the mantel in her sitting room at her husband’s château in Auvergne with a stylish Japanese screen behind her.

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

La dame en rose (Woman in Pink, 1866), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Stevens’ La dame en rose, which depicts an elegantly gowned woman near a Japanese carved and painted table, admiring a doll from “her” collection, is often said to have inspired Tissot’s japonisme phase, along with Whistler’s paintings such as The Golden Screen (1864), The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks (completed 1864; exhibited at the Royal Academy that same year), The Princess from the Land of Porcelain  (completed 1863-64; exhibited at the Salon in 1865), and The Little White Girl (completed 1864; exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1865).  But Tissot’s The Bather (c. 1864) pre-dates Stevens’ La dame en rose.  [See “The three wonders of the world”: Tissot’s japonisme,1864-67.]

Tissot and Stevens moved in the same social circle, which included Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Frédéric Bazille, Berthe Morisot and James Whistler as well as Dutch painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema.  But while Tissot is said to have preferred quiet evenings with his friends in his splendid new home on the chic avenue de l’Impératrice (now avenue Foch), Stevens often gathered with friends at the Café Guerbois.  In addition, he and his wife held regular receptions at their home on Wednesdays; weekly soirées were held by Madame Manet (Edouard’s formidable mother) on Tuesdays, Madame Morisot (Berthe’s formidable mother) on Thursdays, and Princesse Mathilde on Fridays.

Tissot attended Stevens’ receptions, as he noted in early 1868 in a hurried message to Degas scribbled on the back of a used envelope when he found Degas away from his studio:  “I shall be at Stevens’ house tonight.”

Both James Tissot and Alfred Stevens had grown wealthy depicting the elegance of Parisian life during France’s Second Empire.  But their comfortable lives were about to change.

Related posts:

Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?

More “Plagiarists”: Tissot’s friends Manet, Degas, Whistler & Others

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

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

In a class by himself: Tissot beyond the competition, 1866

Degas’ portrait: Tissot, the man-about-town, 1867

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

What became of James Tissot and Alfred Stevens?

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2015.  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.

Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?

Today is April Fool’s Day – and my birthday – so let’s have some fun.

On November 3, 1874, novelist Edmond de Goncourt (1822 – 1896) wrote in his journal, “Tissot, that plagiarist painter, has had the greatest success in England.”  In the spring of 1880 (two years after James Tissot refused to testify on his behalf during the infamous libel suit against art critic John Ruskin), James Abbott McNeill Whistler wrote from Venice to his sister-in-law in London, describing how busy he was after having produced dozens of beautiful pastels.  He believed they would create envy among other artists:  “Tissot I daresay will try his hands at once – and others too.”

Did Tissot borrow ideas and subject matter from other painters?  Absolutely.  Was he unusual in this?  Consider some evidence.

235px-Whistler_James_Symphony_in_White_no_1_(The_White_Girl)_1862

Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl (1862), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas, 84.5 in by 42.5 in. (215 cm by 108 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

In 1862, under the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite painters in London, Whistler painted The White Girl.  Rejected at the Royal Academy of 1862 and the Paris Salon of 1863, The White Girl was a portrait of Whistler’s mistress, Joanna Hiffernan.  Combining the ambiguous mood of John Everett Millais’ paintings at the time with the “stunners” painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Whistler described the painting as “a woman in a beautiful white cambric dress, standing against a window which filters the light through a transparent white muslin curtain – but the figure receives a strong light from the right and therefore the picture, barring the red hair, is one gorgeous mass of brilliant white.”  The White Girl was accepted for the Salon des Refusés in 1863, and though it impressed a few art critics and many artists, it provoked hilarity from the 7,000 visitors who streamed through.  One critic reported, “The hangers must have thought her particularly ugly, for they have given her a sort of place of honor, before an opening through which all pass, so that nobody misses her…they always looked at each other and laughed.”

Two Sisters (1863), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 82.7 by 53.5 in. (210 by 136 cm). Museé d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

James Tissot admired The White Girl, and influenced by it and fashion plates popular in women’s magazines of the time, he painted Two Sisters in 1863.  It was exhibited at the Salon in 1864, and a prominent critic admired the woman on the right as “a model of elegance, nobility, and simplicity,” her pose in “irreproachable taste.”

Albert Moore (1841 – 1893) met and befriended Whistler in 1865, and his work became purely aesthetic under Whistler’s influence.

Azaleas (1868), by Albert Joseph Moore. Oil on canvas, 100.2 by 197.9 cm. Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896), whose Pre-Raphaelite paintings had been notably original, also imitated artists he admired. The azaleas in Millais’ 1868 portrait of his daughters, Sisters, were copied from Albert Moore’s 1868 Azaleas.

Sisters (1868), by John Everett Millais. Oil on canvas, 42½ by 42½ in. (108 by 108 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

Symphony in White, No. 3 (1865–1867), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas, 51.4 by 76.9 cm. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts Collection, University of Birmingham. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Millais had pronounced Whistler’s The White Girl (1862) “splendid,” and it and Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 2 (also known as The Little White Girl, 1864-65 – see below), and Symphony in White, No. 3 (1865-67) inspired the white muslin dresses in which Millais had his three daughters pose.

Hearts are Trumps (1872), by John Everett Millais. Oil on canvas. Tate Britain, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

The Ladies Waldegrave (1780), by Sir Joshua Reynolds. 143.00 by 168.30 cm. National Galleries Scotland. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Millais’ Hearts are Trumps (1872) was a triple-portrait challenge he undertook out of admiration for Sir Joshua Reynolds’ The Ladies Waldegrave (1780).

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863), by Édouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 208 by 264.5 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Tissot’s rebel friend, Edouard Manet, painted Le déjeuner sur l’herbe in 1863, suffering its rejection from the Salon in 1863 and the scandal it created at the Salon des Refusés that year.  Famously, Manet borrowed the subject from the Concert champêtre (by Titian, but attributed at the time to Giorgione).

The Pastoral Concert (c. 1509), by Titian. Oil on canvas. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In the spring of 1865, Claude Monet, inspired by Manet, began his own Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, a massive canvas that he abandoned in 1866 due to financial pressures.

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (1865-66), right fragment, Claude Monet. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tissot, too, painted a Déjeuner sur l’herbe, c. 1865-68, a depiction of a family which may have been his own, enjoying a picnic on the grounds of their château near Besançon, France.  This painting was not exhibited at the time, but Tissot later painted La Partie Carrée (The Foursome), using subject matter similar to Manet’s – though less controversial – which he exhibited at the Salon in 1870.  La Partie Carrée was praised both by art critics and the public.

La Partie Carrée (The Foursome, 1870), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 47 by 57 in. (119.5 by 144.5 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In the meantime, at the Salon in 1865, James Tissot exhibited Spring, which received some praise because of its similarities to John Everett Millais’ Spring (Apple Blossoms), exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1859.

Spring (Apple Blossoms), 1859, by John Everett Millais. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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

Tissot has been accused of copying the formula for commercial success of his wealthy, older friend Alfred Stevens (1823 – 1906):  paint beautiful women in gorgeous interiors, wearing stunning fashions, often with a distinctive touch of japonisme.

Exotic Trinket (1865), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wiki, cultured.com)

La dame en rose (1866), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Young Women looking at Japanese Objects (1869), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Young Women Looking at Japanese Articles (1869), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 27 3/4 by 19 3/4 in. (70.5 by 50.2 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

But if Tissot copied Stevens, Stevens copied Tissot as well, by depicting two young ladies rather than the single figure he usually painted.

The Japanese Mask (1877), by Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Stevens also imitated Whistler.

Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (1864-65), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas, 30 in by 20 in. (76 cm by 51 cm). Tate Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

La Parisienne japonaise (1872), Alfred Stevens. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In 1864, Whistler had exhibited Wapping, featuring Jo Hiffernan as a dockside whore, at the Royal Academy; the Establishment had not been impressed.  Yet Wapping was purchased c. 1864/67 by Thomas DeKay Winans (1820-1878), a locomotive engineer and collector from Baltimore  who was one of Whistler’s first patrons.  Tissot exhibited The Last Evening (1873), with its similar jungle of ship’s masts, at the Royal Academy in 1873; it was snapped up even before the exhibition by wealthy London wine merchant Charles Gassiot (1826 – 1902) for £1,000.

Wapping (1860-1864), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas. 28 3/8 by 40 1/16 in. (72 by 101.8 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 28.5 by 40.5 in. (72.4 by 102.8 cm), Guildhall Art Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Whistler’s most famous painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (1871), known as Whistler’s Mother, was inspired by Dutch Old Masters portraits he had seen.

Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet (1657), by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Oil on canvas. 125.5 by 98.5 cm. Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd, Wales. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, also called Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1871), by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas, 56.81 by 63.94 in. (144.3 by 162.5 cm). Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In 2009, a small, undated Tissot oil painting called Portrait d’une dame cousant près de la cheminée (Portrait of a lady sewing near the fireplace) was sold at auction for $ 5,295 USD/ £ 3,240 GBP (Premium).  Who copied whom?

Is it “inspiration” if a painter imitates a masterpiece of a long-dead artist, and “plagiarism” if he or she copies a living artist?

One of my college English literature professors, lecturing us on the academic Honor Code and plagiarism, defined originality as “not something no one has ever thought of before, but bearing the stamp of your own mind.”

I thought of this when I saw Phil Grabsky’s film, “Vermeer and Music:  The Art of Love and Leisure, from the National Gallery, London” on October 10, 2013.  In this film, Xavier Bray, Chief Curator at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, discussed Vermeer’s Lady Seated at a Virginal (1670-72), and said that he believed Vermeer definitely saw A Woman Playing a Clavichord by Gerrit Dou (1613 –1675).

A Woman Playing a Clavichord (1665), by Gerrit Dou. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Lady Seated at a Virginal (1670-72), by Johannes Vermeer. Oil on canvas, 20.3 in by 17.9 in. (51.5 cm by 45.5 cm). National Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Bray said that it would have been easy for Vermeer to have taken a boat down to Leiden where Dou’s 1665 picture was exhibited – prior to beginning work on his image five years later.  Bray commented that what Vermeer brought to the concept that Dou pioneered – an intimate scene of a woman interrupted while making music – was to distill the scene down to its elemental serenity.  Vermeer is not considered a plagiarist; his work bore the stamp of his own original mind.

So did Tissot’s.  His success, and his obvious enjoyment of the material rewards it brought him during his lifetime, was just really annoying to many of his contemporaries, especially Edmond de Goncourt and Whistler.

Related blog post:

Riding Coattails: Tissot’s earliest success, 1860 – 1861

More “Plagiarists”: Tissot’s friends Manet, Degas, Whistler & Others

©  2014 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. 

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.

Courage & Cowardice: The Impressionists at War, 1870 (Part 2 of 2)

French National Guard soldier with Tabatière rifle (Wikimedia.org)

From September 1870 on, every able-bodied Frenchman enlisted in the National Guard, a hastily-organized, inexperienced militia protecting Paris.  The volunteers were mostly assigned tasks such as standing guard at the city walls or public buildings.  The illustrious Parisian painter of well-dressed women, Alfred Stevens (1823 – 1906) joined the National Guard.  Stevens was a Belgian citizen but had resided in Paris since he was 20; now 47, he was assigned to a unit which did not see much action.  Even Ferdinand Heilbuth (1826 – 1889), a German painter who, like Stevens, had settled in Paris around 1843, served in the National Guard.  [Édouard Manet and Heilbuth had become good friends over the past summer, and James Tissot and Heilbuth would become close within the next few years.  Tissot had long been friends with Alfred Stevens.]

In September, 1870, Edgar Degas, now 36, was working on the coast.  He returned to Paris and enlisted in an infantry unit with the National Guard.  When he could not see the target clearly at rifle practice, he realized he was losing vision in his right eye.  He told another friend that it had been confirmed that his eye was almost useless, and he blamed this on the fact that he had been sleeping in a damp attic.

Édouard Manet closed his Paris studio and sent his family (his mother, his wife, Suzanne, and Suzanne’s 18-year-old “brother,” Léon Leenhoff), to stay with friends tucked away safely in Oloron-Sainte-Marie near the Pyrenees mountains, north of the Spanish border.  He transported a dozen of his most important paintings, including Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1862-63) and Olympia (1863) to the cellar of a friend’s house, and took the remainder to the cellar of the family home in Paris, where he stayed with his brothers Gustave and Eugène.  On September 10, Manet wrote to Suzanne, “I’m surprised we have not had to lodge any militiamen, everyone in the neighborhood has them….  I hope this won’t last long.”

Berthe Morisot, 29, remained in Paris with her mother and father at their house in Passy.  Her father, Chief Clerk of the Audit Office, was required to stay in Paris.  He wanted his wife and daughter to leave, and Édouard Manet tried his best to scare the Morisot women into leaving, but they stood firm.  “I am not worried,” Madame Morisot wrote, “I think we will survive.”  By September 12, National Guard soldiers were quartered in their studio, and Berthe could not paint.

On September 19, 200,000 Prussian troops encircled Paris in attempt to starve the French into submission.  No one could enter or leave the city; all communication between the French capital and the outside world was cut off.  The Siege of Paris had begun.

Later that month, Berthe wrote to her married sister, Edma, “I have heard so much about the perils ahead that I have had nightmares for several nights.”  She added, “Would you believe that I am being accustomed to the sound of the cannon?  It seems to me that I am now absolutely inured to war and capable of enduring anything.”

Édouard Manet - Le repos

Repose, by Édouard Manet, c. 1871, depicting Berthe Morisot in Manet’s Paris studio (Photo: Wikipedia)

Manet wrote to Suzanne, “Paris is now a huge camp — from 5 a.m. until evening, the militia and the National Guards not on duty do drill and are turning into real soldiers.”  By the end of September, the National Guard comprised nearly 200,000 men.  When not on duty, they could live at home – or in tents pitched along the boulevards and avenues, or at the fortifications.  The government provided their uniforms and food and paid them 30 sous a day.  Many militiamen, undisciplined and bored, spent their salary getting drunk.  As the war continued, the National Guardsmen were predominately from the poor sections of Paris.  Frédéric Bazille (who would die in battle on November 28, 1870) wrote that they were “a filthy, greasy lot,” adding, “I can’t imagine where they’ve all crawled from.”

Self-portrait. Oil on canvas, 925 x 665mm (36 ...

Edgar Degas, self-portrait, c. 1863. Oil on canvas, 925 x 665mm (36 3/8 x 26 1/8″). Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon. London only. (Photo: Wikipedia)

In early October, Degas was transferred to the artillery and was posted to the Bastion 12 fortifications, just north of the Bois de Vincennes, a large public park on the eastern edge of Paris created by order of Napoléon III between 1855 and 1866.  He served under the command of his old school friend, the engineer and entrepreneur Henri Rouart.

On October 16, Berthe Morisot’s mother wrote to her daughter Yves, “Monsieur Degas has joined the artillery, and by his own account has not yet heard a cannon go off.  He is looking for an opportunity to hear that sound because he wants to know whether he can endure the detonation of his guns.”

Well east of the action, Degas had the leisure to read and draw.

 

Ernest Meissonnier, self-portrait c. 1865 (Wikimedia.org)

Manet’s brothers both were conscripted into the Garde Mobile, a unit of the National Guard.  In November 1870, Édouard Manet was conscripted as a gunner in an artillery unit of the National Guard protecting Paris, along with Degas.  He was commissioned a lieutenant.  Soon he was on maneuvers with Degas for two hours a day in ankle-deep mud.  By December 7, he had left the artillery, which he said was “too demanding” on a soldier of 39, to be transferred to the general staff headquarters in company with the acclaimed painter and sculptor Ernest Meissonier (now 55, and a grandfather) and other painters.  Meissonier’s assignment was to inspect the protective walls and fortresses encircling Paris.  At the headquarters, Manet said, he could “be safe while being able to see everything.”

As for Édouard Manet’s protégée, Eva Gonzalès, she had fled with her family to Dieppe, a French port on the English Channel, where the twenty-one-year-old received many letters from Manet describing conditions in Paris as well as sentiments such as, “Of all the privations the siege is inflicting upon us, that of not seeing you any more is certainly one of the hardest to bear.”  But he told her that he had no excuse for wasting his time, as he carried his paintbox and portable easel in his military kitbag.  He sketched scenes of the people and activities around him (such as his National Guard comrades, and Parisians in line at the butcher shop), writing his wife that these pictures would become valuable souvenirs of the war.

Édouard Manet (Wikimedia.org)

In a November 19 letter to Gonzalès, Manet wrote, “A lot of cowards have left here, including Zola, Fantin, etc. I don’t think they’ll be very well received when they return.”  In early September, 1870 the writer Émile Zola, 30, had fled to Marseilles in southeastern France with his mother and his new wife, Alexandrine, joining Cézanne (his childhood friend) and his mistress.  Around Christmas, Zola and his wife went to Bordeaux, in southwestern France.  Thirty-four-year-old painter Henri Fantin-Latour holed up in the cellar of his Paris studio.  Manet later called Gustave Courbet a coward as well – and not only because Courbet, a socialist and pacifist who did not join the National Guard, sewed a red stripe up his trouser legs in imitation of a military uniform.

© 2013 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. 

How much do you know about the Impressionists & War?  Take my quiz on goodreads.com!

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.

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

Exhibition Notes:

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity                                                                          February 26 – May 27, 2013 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

A revealing look at the role of fashion in the works of the Impressionists and their contemporaries. Some eighty major figure paintings, seen in concert with period costumes, accessories, fashion plates, photographs, and popular prints, will highlight the vital relationship between fashion and art during the pivotal years, from the mid-1860s to the mid-1880s, when Paris emerged as the style capital of the world.

For more information, visit

http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2013/impressionism-fashion-modernity

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

James Tissot’s studio, a showcase for his renowned collection of Japanese art, became a landmark to see when touring Paris – and, for Tissot, it was a brilliant marketing tool to attract commissions.

Within about five years, his collection of Japanese art and objets had grown to include a model of a Japanese ship, a Chinese shrine and hardwood table, and a Japanese black lacquered household altar, along with dozens of embroidered silk kimonos, Japanese dolls, folding screens and porcelains.  Tissot’s Parisian villa provided the lavish interiors filled with Oriental carpets, furniture, fabrics, carvings, vases and wall hangings that he used in his paintings.

Young Women Looking at Japanese Objects

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)

In 1869, he arranged these exotic items into elegant compositions in three similar paintings featuring young women looking at Japanese objects. 

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

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

The artist Berthe Morisot, after visiting the Paris Salon of 1869, wrote to her sister, “The Tissots seem to have become quite Chinese this year.”  The exquisitely detailed version of Young Women Looking at Japanese Objects on exhibit prompted one critic to write:

“Our industrial and artistic creations can perish, our morals and our fashions can fall into obscurity, but a picture by M. Tissot will be enough for archaeologists of the future to reconstitute our epoch.”

Tissot employed japonisme more sensationally (and with more financial success) than anyone at that time except for Alfred Stevens.  In London, where Jimmy Whistler had been exploring japonisme in his work for the past four years without much praise, Millais only added a Japanese fan near the bottom of his portrait of little Miss Davidson (1865).

Miss Davidson, by Millais 1865

Miss Davidson, by Millais 1865 (Photo: Martin Beek)

Émile Zola

Émile Zola, by Manet (Photo: Wikipedia)

As for Manet and Degas at this time, while they were absorbing new concepts of color, shading, perspective and composition from Japanese prints, they merely added a touch of japonisme in their work.  Manet added a Japanese screen, as well as a Japanese print in his 1868 portrait of his defender, the writer Émile Zola. 

Degas included a Japanese screen in the background of his 1867 portrait of Tissot, and his portrait of Madame Camus, (1869-70, Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) depicts her holding a fan. 

Tissot continued to surround himself with Japanese art.  As it would turn out, he had very little time left to enjoy it.

 

Young Women looking at Japanese articles (1869), by James Jacques Joseph Tissot. Oil on canvas, 70.5 x 50.2 cm. Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio, USA; Gift of Henry M. Goodyear, M.D. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in "The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot," by Lucy Paquette © 2012

Young Women looking at Japanese articles (1869), by James Jacques Joseph Tissot. Oil on canvas, 70.5 by 50.2 cm. Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio, USA; Gift of Henry M. Goodyear, M.D. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” by Lucy Paquette © 2012

Related posts:

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

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

© 2013 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. 

CH377762NOTE:  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.

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

One of the most dazzling exhibits at the 1867 Paris International Exposition was the Japanese Pavilion, and it received more visitors than any other exhibit.  This was the first World’s Fair in which Japan participated.  The Japanese Imperial Commission to the Exposition was led by fourteen-year-old Prince Tokugawa Akitake (1853-1910), a younger brother of the man who would be the last Shogun under Japan’s feudal regime.

The Japanese delegation to the Exposition Univ...

The Japanese delegation to the Exposition Universelle, around the young Tokugawa Akitake. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The delegation arrived in Paris in March, 1867, and one year later, James Tissot was appointed gwa-gaku, or drawing master, to Prince Akitake.  (This fact was revealed in December, 1979, at the International Symposium in Tokyo.)

How was it that 31-year-old James Tissot was appointed to this position with a Japanese prince?  Alfred Stevens, who had been a successful painter for a decade and who was now 44 years old, was an avid collector of japonisme and diligently capitalized on the cultural craze for exotic arts and crafts.  In fact, Stevens won a gold medal at the International Exhibition, where he displayed The Lady in Pink (1867, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium); it depicted an elegantly gowned woman near a Japanese carved and painted table, admiring a doll from “her” collection.

Though Stevens was much admired by the Imperial family, was he perhaps too busy to teach art to a foreign teenager?  Did the ambitious, younger Tissot seek the appointment, or was he perhaps recommended (through Princess Mathilde) by Napoleon III, whose government was assisting Japan in reorganizing the Shogunate Army?  Or was it a coincidence of location — perhaps the young prince’s delegation lodged in the rue de l’Impératrice, where many aristocrats and foreign dignitaries [including Elihu Washburne (1816-1887), the United States Minister to France, and his legation] resided?  In late 1867 or early 1868, Tissot moved into his sumptuous new villa and chic “Oriental” studio in the rue de l’Impératrice, displaying his impressive collection of Japanese and Chinese art and artifacts to all who visited, including princes and princesses.

In any case, Prince Akitake made several visits to Tissot’s studio over the course of the seven-  or eight-month appointment, and Tissot painted his portrait in water-color mounted on a hanging scroll on September 27, 1868.  (Now at the Historical Museum of the Tokugawa Family, Mito, Japan, it wasn’t until about 1968 that the painter of this picture was identified, by a Japanese scholar, as James Tissot.)

徳川昭武。Tokugawa Akitake.パリ万国博覧会に徳川慶喜の代理として出席した時の...

Tokugawa Akitake at 14 (Photo: Wikipedia)

Prince Akitake, who called his teacher “Chi-so,” returned to Japan in October, 1868 for the Meji Restoration, an era of modernization and industrialization which brought sweeping reforms in government, the military and the culture.  Eight years later, in 1876, Tokugawa Akitake was sent as the special emissary in charge of the Japanese exhibition to the Philadelphia World’s Fair.  He returned to France to continue his studies.  By this time, James Tissot’s carefree existence had drastically changed, and he now lived in London.

Related blog posts:

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

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

© 2012 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

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.