Tag Archives: Alphonse Daudet

The Company He Kept: James Tissot’s Friends

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “The Company He Kept: James Tissot’s Friends.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/the-company-he-kept-james-tissots-friends/. <Date viewed.>

 

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

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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.

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James Tissot and Alfred Stevens

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “James Tissot and Alfred Stevens.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/james-tissot-and-alfred-stevens/. <Date viewed.>

 

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.

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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.

Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “Tissot’s La Femme à Paris series.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/tissots-la-femme-a-paris-series/. <Date accessed.>

 

Immediately after James Tissot’s mistress and muse Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis in November, 1882, he abandoned his St. John’s Wood home and moved back to Paris, which he had left following the bloody aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.  During his eleven years in London, he had declined Edgar Degas’ invitation to show his work with the artists who became known as the Impressionists.

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

The pictures were exhibited at the Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris, from April 19 to June 15, 1885, as “Quinze Tableaux sur la Femme à Paris,” and at Arthur Tooth and Sons, London, in 1886 as “Pictures of Parisian Life by J.J. Tissot.”

La Femme à Paris was poorly received.  A critic for La Vie Parisienne complained that the women in the series were “always the same Englishwoman” – some say the faces all resembled Kathleen Newton.  Another reviewer dismissed Tissot’s modern urban women as “gracious puppets.”  Some found both the poses and compositions awkward and disconcerting.

Tissot made etchings only of the first five of the paintings in the series, L’Ambitieuse, Ces dames des chars, Sans dot, La Mystérieuse and La Plus Jolie Femme de Paris, planning to sell sets to collectors, but they never were published.

Tissot intended for all the vignettes of his La Femme à Paris series to be engraved and illustrated by stories, each to be written by a different author.  Tissot’s long-time friend, French novelist Alphonse Daudet (1840 –1897), issued the invitations to write on Tissot’s subjects, but in fact, few of the authors seem to have responded.

The project ended in 1886 with Tissot’s ambition to illustrate the Bible.

Six of the paintings from Tissot’s La Femme à Paris are now in public collections.

L’Ambitieuse (The Political Woman, 1883-1885), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 73 1/2 by 56 by 5 in. (186.69 by 142.24 by 12.7 cm). Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tissot’s L’Ambitieuse (1883-1885), or The Political Woman, was owned by the American painter William Merritt Chase (1849 –1916).  According to the descriptive catalogue at Tooth’s London exhibition in 1886, the woman’s dress is “a marvel of the dressmaker’s art,” and she has “made what she believes to be a fair exchange of her beauty against her white-haired husband’s position.  If not a Minister ‘he will be so one of these days’ through her management of political salons.”  In 1909, Chase donated the painting to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.  It is not on view.

Jules Claretie (1840 – 1913), a writer and playwright who was the director of the Théâtre Français, was to write on L’Ambitieuse, but no such text by him exists.

Ces dames des chars (The Ladies of the Chariots, c. 1883-85), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 57 ½ by 39 5/8” (146 by 100.65 cm). Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

The Ladies of the Chariots (Ces dames des chars), also called The Circus, was exhibited in Paris in 1885 and in London in 1886.  It is the second in the La Femme à Paris series, painted sometime before mid-1884.  The Ladies of the Chariots was assigned to French poet and writer Théodore de Banville (1823 – 1891), but no such text by him exists, either.

The women are performers at the Hippodrome de l’Alma, built in 1877 at the corner of avenues Josephine and Alma.  Up to eight thousand spectators could view races around the thirteen-meter track, circus animals whose cages were beneath the ring, and special effects such as mist and fireworks in the grand arena with a sliding roof that could be opened to the sky.  Electric lighting made evening performances possible, such as the chariot race pictured, with charioteers known as Amazons wearing glittering costumes.  Their diadems are similar to the crown on Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s new statue, Liberty Illuminating the World, which was presented to the United States in a ceremony in Paris on July 4, 1884; it soon would be installed in New York Harbor.

The Ladies of the Chariots was sold by Julius H. Weitzner (1896 – 1986), a leading dealer in Old Master paintings in New York and London, to Walter Lowry, who gifted it to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1958.

From its position on the wall of the RISD museum director’s office, The Women of the Chariots became the centerpiece of an exhibition on the circus that opened in August 2014.  In 2015-2016, it was included in the exhibition “James Tissot” at the Bramante Cloister inside Santa Maria della Pace Church, Rome.

La Demoiselle d’honneur (The Bridesmaid, c. 1883-85), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 58 by 40 in. (147.3 by 101.6 cm.). Leeds City Art Gallery, U.K. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

La Demoiselle d’honneur, or The Bridesmaid (c. 1883-85) sold at Christie’s in 1889 for £69.5s.0d and was given to the Leeds City Art Gallery by R.R. King in 1897.  It is now on display in Room Five.  A letter in the Boston Public Library’s Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts from Tissot’s old friend, Alphonse Daudet, to French poet and novelist François Coppée (1842 – 1908) asks him to contribute a story based on The Bridesmaid. 

Les Femmes d’artiste (The Artists’ Ladies, 1885), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 57 1/2 by 40 in. (146.1 by 101.6 cm.) The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Les Femmes d’artiste (Painters and their Wives) was to be written about by art critic, novelist and playwright, Albert Wolff (1835 – 1891).

800px-Skandinaviska_konstnärernas_frukost_i_Café_Ledoyen_-_Fernissningsdagen_1886

The Breakfast at Le Doyen (1886), by Swedish painter Hugo Birger (1854-1887).  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

The Artists’ Wives (also called The Artist’s Ladies) (1885) depicts a gathering of artists and their wives on Varnishing Day, the evening before the official opening of the Salon, the annual art exhibition in Paris at the Palais de l’Industrie.  The artists could put a final coat of protective varnish on their work, and they and their wives and friends could view the exhibition privately, when “the great effort of the year is over, and when our pictures are safely hung, and are inviting the critics to do their worst and the buyers to do their best!”  Tissot depicts the celebratory luncheon on the terrace of the restaurant Le Doyen, with the entrance to the Palais de l’Industrie in the background.  Celebrities present include the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917), the man with the brown beard and spectacles standing in the center of the picture.

In 1889, The Artists’ Wives was sold at Christie’s, London.  It belonged to a Mr. Day, then to Philadelphia art dealer and critic Charles Field Haseltine.  By 1894, it was with the Art Association of the Union League of Philadelphia, and by 1981, it was with M. Knoedler and Co. in New York.  It was a gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., and The Grandy Fund, Landmark Communications Fund, and “An Affair to Remember” to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1981.  It was included in the 2015-2016 exhibition “James Tissot” at the Bramante Cloister inside Santa Maria della Pace Church, Rome.

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

The setting for Women of Paris: The Circus Lover (also known as Les femmes de sport, 1885) is the Molier Circus in Paris, a “high-life circus” in which the amateur performers were members of the aristocracy.  The man on the trapeze wearing red is the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, one of the oldest titles of the French nobility; he was said to have “the biceps of Hercules.”  People of beauty and fashion attended the circus and mingled with the performers during the interval.  This painting was to be written about by Charles Yriarte (1832 – 1898).  To closely examine its details, click here.

The Circus Lover (1885) was sold by Gerald M. Fitzgerald at Christie’s, London in mid-1957 to the Marlborough Fine Art Gallery for $ 3,219 USD/£ 1,150 GBP.  In early 1958, The Circus Lover was purchased from the Marlborough Fine Art by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts for $ 5,000 as Amateur Circus.

Women of Paris:  The Circus Lover was included in the blockbuster exhibition, “Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity,” in Paris, New York and Chicago.

Le Demoiselle de magasin (The Young Lady of the Shop, 1883 – 1885), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 146.1 by 101.6 cm (57.5 by 40 in.) Art Gallery of Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia.org)

Le Demoiselle de magasin (The Young Lady of the Shop, or The Shop Girl, 1883 – 1885), was to be written about by the wealthy and prominent novelist Émile Zola (1840 –1902).  The entry in the catalogue for the exhibition in London reads, “Our young lady with her engaging smile is holding open the door till her customer takes the pile of purchases from her hand and passes to her carriage.  She knows her business, and has learned the first lesson of all, that her duty is to be polite, winning, and pleasant.  Whether she means what she says, or much of what her looks express, is not the question:  enough if she has a smile and an appropriate answer for everybody.”  The painting was a gift to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, from the Corporations’ Subscription Fund, in 1968.

The Shop Girl also was included in the exhibition, “Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity,” in Paris, New York and Chicago, as well as in “Splendor and Misery:  Pictures of Prostitution, 1850-1910” in Paris and Amsterdam in 2015-2016 – the idea being, the goods on display in the shop are not the only things for sale.

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)

Three of the pictures in the series are in private collections:

La Mondaine (The Woman of Fashion), which was to be written about by poet and essayist, René François Sully-Prudhomme (1839 – 1907), was sold at Sotheby’s, New York for $ 1,800,000 USD/£ 1,246,105 GBP (Hammer price) in 1993, to a private collector.

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

Sans Dot (Without Dowry) was assigned to novelist Georges Ohnet (1848 – 1918); the story with that title was published in Les lettres et les arts in 1888.  In Ohnet’s tale, illustrated by August Loustaunou, a young woman is left without a dowry upon the death of her father, a colonel.  The widow and her mother spend the autumn listening to music in the gardens at Versailles, where she finds love.  Sans Dot was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1993 to a private collector for $ 800,000 USD/£ 553,824 GBP (Hammer price).

James Tissot,_La_plus_jolie_femme_de_Paris

La Plus Jolie Femme de Paris (The Most Beautiful Woman in Paris, or The Fashionable Beauty), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 146.32 by 101.6 cm. Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva, Switzerland. (Wikimedia)

La Plus Jolie Femme de Paris (The Most Beautiful Woman in Paris, or The Fashionable Beauty), was to be written about by Edgar Degas’ old schoolmate, the playwright and novelist Ludovic Halévy (1834 – 1908).  In a story with that title later published, translated into English, the wife of a Parisian lawyer is determined to be the most beautiful woman in Paris – until the next day, when a musical comedy actress becomes the focus of the fickle public’s attention.  This painting, protected by a glass box, “as if it were the Mona Lisa,” according to one critic, was highlighted in a small lounge hung with mirrors and crystal chandeliers at the end of the 2015-2016 exhibition “James Tissot” at the Bramante Cloister inside Santa Maria della Pace Church, Rome.

The location of the following six paintings from the series is unknown:

La Mystérieuse (The Mystery Woman), portraying a chic woman dressed in black walking her dogs along a fashionable promenade in the park, was to be written about by dramatist and opera librettist Henri Meilhac (1831 –1897).

L’Acrobate (The Tightrope Dancer), was assigned to author and journalist Aurélien Scholl (1833 – 1902).  In 1885, both Tissot and Scholl were pursuing the comely circus performer wearing pink tights in this painting.

La Menteuse (The Gossip), which showed a woman dressed in black with an armful of flowers, was to be written about by Tissot’s friend, Alphonse Daudet.  Daudet actually did write a short story called “La Menteuse,” later making it into a play which was performed in Paris in 1892.

James_Tissot_-_Les_demoiselles_de_province

Les Demoiselles de province (Provincial Women), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 58 by 40 ¼ in. (147.3 by 102.2 cm).  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

Les Demoiselles de Province (Provincial Women) *, was assigned to the master of short stories, Guy de Maupassant (1850 – 1893).  Recalling Tissot’s Too Early, acclaimed in London in 1873, the descriptive catalogue at Tooth’s exhibition in London in 1886 set the scene in Demoiselles as a “the salon of some prefecture, say at Caen or at Dijon… when M. le Préfet is giving a ball.  If the invitations were at 9 o’clock, why not come at 9 o’clock?  So, at least, thought M. Prud’homme and his three daughters.”  Papa “is simply lost in open-mouthed admiration; while his daughters, in home-made dresses… a little distressed at being the first arrivals are still sympathetically supporting him in his astonished survey of the gilding and the mirrors.”

James_Tissot,_The_Sphinx

Study for ‘Le sphinx’ (Woman in an Interior), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 44 by 27 in. (111.76 by 68.58 cm). Private Collection.  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

Le Sphinx (The Sphinx) was to be written about by novelist and critic Paul Bourget (1852 – 1935).   The model for this painting was Louise Riesener (1860 – 1944), the granddaughter of portrait painter Henri Riesener (1767 – 1828), and a daughter of the painter Léon Riesener (1808-1878).  In 1885, Alphonse Daudet’s wife arranged a match between Tissot and Louise Riesener.  Unfortunately, the 25-year-old Louise suddenly broke the engagement to Tissot, who was 49.  [See Tissot’s Romances.]

Musique sacrée, which depicted a fashionable woman singing a duet with a nun in the organ loft of a church, was to be written about by composer Charles Gounod (1818 –1893).  It was while painting this picture that Tissot experienced a mystic vision that completely changed his art.

He never painted from modern life again.

* Update on June 16, 2015:  Tissot’s Les Demoiselles de Province recently appeared on the art market!  It was sold by the artist for £300 to the London art gallery, Arthur Tooth & Sons, where it remained until May 22, 1886.  It then was purchased for £320 by Baker, who returned it to Tooth’s on December 28, 1886.  In 1889, it was sold by E. Simon at Christie’s, London as Provincial Ladies – to Tooth’s, this time for 135 guineas.  In 1905, it was offered for sale by Lefevre & Sons at Christie’s, London, as Early Arrivals, but it did not find a buyer.  The location of the painting was unknown to art historians – but since at least 1955, it was in a private collection in Rotterdam, and it was left to the current owner, who passed away.  It was sold at Christie’s, London on June 16, 2015 for £1,202,500 ($1,867,483).

© 2013 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:

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

Tissot’s Romances

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

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

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.

Select Bibliography

David S. Brooke, “James Tissot’s Amateur Circus.” Boston Museum Bulletin, vol. 67, no. 347. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1969).

Christie’s,Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art,” London (16 June 2015), Lot 62: James Jacques Joseph Tissot, Les Demoiselles de Provincehttps://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/james-jacques-joseph-tissot-1836-1906-les-demoiselles-5899598-details.aspx, (accessed 15 December, 2013).

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Women of Paris: The Circus Lover, James Jacques Joseph Tissot, 1885. http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/women-of-paris-the-circus-lover-33605, (accessed 15 December, 2013).

Paquette, Lucy. “Tissot around the world: Canada,” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/tissot-around-the-world-canada/, accessed 15 December, 2013.

Paquette, Lucy. “Tissot in the U.K.: Northern England.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/tissot-in-the-u-k-northern-england/, accessed 15 December, 2013.

Paquette, Lucy. “Tissot in the U.S.:  New England,” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/tissot-in-the-u-s-new-england/, accessed 15 December, 2013.

Paquette, Lucy. “Tissot in the U.S.:  New York,” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/tissot-in-the-u-s-new-york/, accessed 15 December, 2013.

Sotheby’s, “19th Century European Art,” New York (25 October, 2005), Lot 115: James Jacques Joseph Tissot, Study for “Le Sphinx” (Woman in an Interior). http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.pdf.N08121.html/f/115/N08121-115.pdf, (accessed 15 December 2013).

Sotheby’s, “19th Century European Paintings & Sculpture,” New York (17 February, 1993), Lot 60: James Jacques Joseph Tissot, Sans Dot (Without dowry).

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

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

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “Paris c. 1865: The Giddy Life of Second Empire France.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/paris-c-1865-the-giddy-life-of-second-empire-france/. <Date viewed.>

 

NapoleonIIIHaussmann

Napoleon III and Haussmann (Photo: Wikipedia)

By 1865, Napoléon III’s majestic and “revolution-proof” vision to modernize Paris had been methodically implemented for twelve years by his préfet, Baron Haussmann.  James Tissot had lived and painted in the city during nine years of this transformation.  The economy was booming as overcrowded medieval buildings were demolished, hills were leveled, bridges were constructed, and narrow, tangled streets were replaced with straight, broad tree-lined avenues extending to the western suburbs where fields of cabbages once grew.  When the Arc de Triomphe was completed in 1836, five streets radiated from it; Haussmann added seven more and a traffic round-about, and it became known as Place de l’Etoile (Place of the Star).  In an effort to create a large, clean and progressive metropolis, rows of neo-classical apartment buildings were constructed with shops at street level, as well as a breathtakingly beautiful new opera house.

Paris Opéra Garnier Grand escalier

Paris Opéra Garnier, Grand escalier (Photo: Wikipedia)

To serve a population that had almost doubled in the past fifteen years and was nearing two million, aqueducts transported fresh spring water to city reservoirs, and an extensive sewer system was installed.  Telegraph lines allowed modern and efficient communication.  Railways now branched out from the city, reaching into the outlying regions and making it an industrial center.  Trains also encircled the city, so that the main railroad stations were conveniently connected within the old fortified wall around the capital.  The once-squalid city had become an international model of urban planning, with new public squares and parks.  The densely wooded Bois de Boulogne was designed on the western edge of the city as an imperial playground, with two lakes, a zoo, an aviary, and an aquarium plus a thoroughbred race course, Longchamp.

The splendid new streets now were a cacophony of horses, carriages, and omnibuses.  Parisians flaunted their wealth, and conspicuous consumption was the order of the day.  Grand department stores and hotels sprang up, and cafés spilled thousands of tables and chairs into the wide sidewalks, packed with people of all classes taking in the spectacle between two and six in the afternoon.  Shops stayed open into the night, drawing crowds from nine o’clock to midnight and beyond, and to the east, there were theaters, music halls and cabarets.  With 15,000 gaslights glittering on the streets, Paris became “The City of Light.”

Valentine Haussmann and her father, Georges Haussmann (fr.wikipedia.org)

While the Emperor carried on affairs with women including Valentine Haussmann, the 21-year-old daughter of the man renovating Paris, the Empress Eugénie and her friends would drive themselves down the elegant avenue de l’Impératrice – Empress Avenue (now the avenue Foch) – heading for the Bois de Boulogne in an open carriage to boat on the lakes, sip wine at the Swiss Chalet there, and enjoy picnics and galas.  Like London’s Hyde Park, it was the place to see and be seen, and to show off fine horses.  In the winter, there was ice skating (introduced in 1862 by the Empress Eugénie), and there were always balls at the Tuileries; in 1865, it was the fashion to drive to masked balls at 3 a.m.  The Empress patronized Charles Worth, the first dressmaker to offer his own designs at luxury fashion shows and to label his creations.  Eugénie’s tastes set style; her extravagant white tulle ballgown strewn with diamonds led to imitations sewn with beetles, butterflies and bells.

The Empress Eugenie Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting, by Franz Winterhalter (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

Princess Mathilde Bonaparte

Princess Mathilde Bonaparte (Photo: Wikipedia)

The power behind the throne – in cultural matters, at least — was not Eugénie or even a mistress, but Princess Mathilde.  A first cousin of Napoléon III, she was engaged to him briefly at age 16, though they were mismatched intellectually.  When the man she did marry turned out to be cruel and abusive, she fled him with her Parisian lover, the Comte de Nieuwerkerke.  She took her family’s jewels, using them as collateral for a bank loan of 500,000 francs that funded her cousin’s rise to power.  Even after Napoléon III’s marriage to Eugénie, a Spanish countess educated in Paris, Mathilde wielded enormous power.  At the Paris townhouse Napoléon III put at her disposal, she regularly received scientists, writers, painters, and musicians, and she obtained advantages for them.  She herself was an artist, winning a medal for her painting at the Salon in 1865, and it was at her request that the Comte de Nieuwerkerke (a failed sculptor) was promoted to Superintendent of Fine Arts in 1863, at an annual salary of 60,000 francs.  It is said that Princess Mathilde decided who was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, or which painter won a medal.

Portrait of Count Alfred Émilien de Nieuwerkerke (1811 – 1892), c. 1856-57, by Princess Mathilde Bonaparte.  (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

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

Self portrait (1865), by James Tissot, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA, USA. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, by Lucy Paquette © 2012

What would Tissot, a man who had depicted himself in a self-portrait a few years earlier as a hooded monk, have been doing amid the heady delights of life in the imperial capital?

In an 1865 photograph, he’s a dapper dresser.  Though still living in the dilapidated Latin Quarter at 29, he was enjoying increasing professional success and was described as a boulevardier – a man-about-town.

In addition to painters, his friends included poets (Camille-André Lemoyne, 1822 – 1907, who dedicated a published poem to Tissot in 1860), writers (Alphonse Daudet, 1840 – 1897, who lived in the rented room below his), and composers (Emmanuel Chabrier, 1841 – 1894, whose portrait Tissot drew in 1861).

He was 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, perhaps, Tissot – a traditionalist at heart — had more closely allied himself with some of the most prominent figures of the Second Empire.

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2012.  All rights reserved.

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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.