Tag Archives: Cecil Newton

The Art of Waiting, by James Tissot

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

Many of James Tissot’s most memorable oil paintings feature images of women waiting.  Sometimes they are with men, but the focal point is the woman’s impassive face and languorous mien.  They are not waiting for anything, particularly.  Yet rather than being pleasant and relaxing, these scenes are oppressively still and sometimes claustrophobic.

A Visit to the Yacht (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 by 21 in./87.6 by 56 cm. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org).

In A Visit to the Yacht (1873), the two couples and the girl do not interact.  They are bored and tense, just waiting in the same small space.  Tissot sold this picture directly to Agnew’s, London for £650, as La Visite au Navire.  Shortly after, Agnew’s, Liverpool sold the picture to David Jardine (1827-1911), a Liverpool timber broker, ship owner and art collector.  Jardine was born in New Brunswick, to a family that had grown wealthy from the Canadian timber industry.  After moving to Liverpool, Jardine eventually became Chairman of the Cunard Steamship Company.

In 1922, the painting was purchased at Christie’s, London by Vicars Brothers, art dealers in London.

William Hulme Lever, 2nd Viscount Leverhulme (1888 – 1949), who co-founded Unilever in 1930, purchased Tissot’s A Visit to the Yacht from the Leicester Galleries in 1933.  Upon his death, Philip William Bryce Lever, 3rd Viscount Leverhulme (1915 – 2000), succeeded to the title; he became Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire a few months later and was appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1988.  Prior to his death in 2000, he lived and entertained at Thornton Manor in Cheshire, where his guests included Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, and Lord Snowdon, as well as members of other royal families, heads of state, and notable people from the worlds of industry, academia and the arts.  The last male descendant of the 1st Viscount Leverhulme, his titles became extinct.

Tissot’s A Visit to the Yacht was owned by the Estate of the 3rd Viscount Leverhulme, which sold The Leverhulme Collection from Thornton Manor at Sotheby’s in June, 2001.  However, several paintings including A Visit to the Yacht were exhibited at the Lady Lever Art Gallery by the 3rd Viscount’s Executors.

The Trustees of the 3rd Viscount Leverhulme Will Trust offered Tissot’s A Visit to the Yacht  for sale at Sotheby’s, London on December 4, 2013, but it did not find a buyer.  However, it was announced later that the painting was sold privately to a buyer in the United States for a price within the estimated £2 to 3 million GBP it was expected to bring at the auction.

Tissot painted three versions of Waiting for the Ferry, one in 1874 and two around 1878, at the dock beside the Falcon Tavern, Gravesend.  The women in these pictures don’t look preoccupied with their thoughts, or bored, as if they had something better to do:  they’re simply waiting.

Waiting for the ferry outside the Falcon Inn (1874), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 26 by 37 in. (66.04 by 93.98 cm). The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In Tissot’s Waiting for the Ferry at the Falcon Tavern (1874), man is busy reading, the little girl is obviously bored, but the woman is calmly waiting.  This picture was exhibited at Nottingham Castle, and at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1887.  It then was in the collection of James Hall, Esq., a prominent collector of Pre-Raphaelite art and the grandfather of Mrs. Edward Reeves, who sold the painting at Christie’s, London in 1954 to the John Nicholson Gallery, New York for $ 4,339 (£ 1550).  In 1963, prominent collector Mrs. Blakemore Wheeler, who had owned the painting by 1957, gifted it to the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

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

In about 1876, Tissot’s young mistress and muse, Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854 – 1882), moved into his home at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, London.  Tissot often painted her in his house or garden.  Since they did not marry, they could not socialize in Victorian Society, but they made excursions outside London to places including Greenwich.  The man in this picture, who may have been modeled by Kathleen’s brother, Frederick Kelly, is obviously bored, but the woman just waits.

This version of Waiting for the Ferry was with Leicester Galleries, London, by 1936, and again until about 1953.  It was purchased by by English actor Alec Guinness (1914 – 2000) around 1955, before he was knighted, and it was sold at Christie’s in 1977 as Waiting for the Boat at Greenwich.  It was purchased by the Owen Edgar Gallery, then by Roy Miles Fine Paintings and by 1984-85 belonged to Samuel A. McLean.

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

This version of Waiting for the Ferry does show the woman, modeled by Kathleen Newton, looking as bored as the two children, while the man, who was modeled by the artist himself, appears to be talking or whispering to her.  This picture was owned by Mrs. Viva King by 1968.  In 1920s London, Viva King was a beautiful and vivacious free spirit called the “Queen of Bohemia” by English writer Osbert Sitwell.  Her husband, Willie King, was a curator at the British Museum, and in the 1940s, Viva was the hostess of a successful salon at Thurloe Square.   Her Waiting for the Ferry later belonged to Charles de Pauw.   It was sold at Christie’s, London in 1978 for $ 39,754/£ 22,000; Sotheby’s, London in 1986 for $ 73,568/£ 49,000; and Christie’s, London in 1993 for $ 148,650/£ 100,000.

Le banc de jardin/The Garden Bench (1882), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 99.1 by 142.2 cm. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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

Tissot, Kathleen Newton, Cecil Newton, and Lilian Hervey posed for a photograph that gives some insight into how the artist composed this version of Waiting for the Ferry.

Kathleen Newton (center) and James Tissot (right) with her son, Cecil Newton. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Kathleen Newton (center) and James Tissot (right) with her son, Cecil Newton. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

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

On the Terrace of Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich, London (c. 1878) depicts people in a situation that suggests social interaction, but they appear to merely wait for something, with only the smoker evincing boredom.  This painting is inscribed “No. 1 Trafalgar Tavern/(Greenwich)/oil painting/James Tissot/17 Grove End Road/St John’s Wood/London/N.W.” on an old label on the reverse.  It belonged to Sir Thomas Wilson, Bt., before it was sold at Sotheby’s, Belgravia in 1970 for $ 9,839/£ 4,100.  As “The Property of a Lady of Title,” it was sold at Christie’s, London in 1993 for $ 193,245/£ 130,000.  It is now in the collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana.

No other painter painted the act of waiting like Tissot, or as often as Tissot did.

Related posts:

For sale: A Visit to the Yacht, c. 1873, by James Tissot

James Tissot Domesticated

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

© 2015 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. 

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.

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James Tissot in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection

Award-winning musical theater composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (b. 1948) became interested in Victorian art at the age of eight. As he achieved success with his musicals, Evita (1976), Cats (1981), Phantom of the Opera (1986) and Sunset Boulevard (1993), he began to collect Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

His collection of Victorian art, assembled over a period of forty years and now one of the world’s largest in private hands, includes works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, John William Waterhouse, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Giovanni Boldini, and James Tissot.

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1992, Lord Lloyd-Webber spent 10 million on paintings during three weeks in 1994, according to the London Telegraph.

All the Tissot paintings in his collection are from the artist’s London period, 1871-1882, and were purchased in the 1990s.

As of 1989, the highest auction price on record for an oil painting by James Tissot was Reading the News (1874) sold at Sotheby’s, New York that year for $ 1,250,000/£ 797,295.

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

On February 18, 1993, Christie’s, New York offered two major Tissot oil paintings at its sale of 19th Century European Paintings, Drawings & Watercolors.  One of them, L’Orpheline (Orphans, 1879), features Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882) and was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1879.  L’Orpheline beat the 1989 record for a Tissot oil – bringing $2,700,000/£ 1,867,865 from Lloyd-Webber.  [The second painting was Jeune femme chantant a l’orgue/Young Woman Singing at the Organ.]

Quiet (c. 1878/79), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 13 by 9 in. (33.02 by 22.86 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Quiet (c. 1881) was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1881.  It was purchased by Richard Donkin, M.P. (1836 – 1919), an English shipowner who was elected Member of Parliament for the newly created constituency of Tynemouth in the 1885 general election.  The small painting remained in the family and was a major discovery of a Tissot work when it appeared on the market in November, 1993, selling to Lloyd Webber at Christie’s, London for $ 416,220/£ 280,000.  In perfect condition, it shows Kathleen Newton and her niece, Lilian Hervey (1875 – 1952) in the garden of Tissot’s house at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, in north London.  It was Lilian Hervey who, in 1946, publicly identified “La Mystérieuse” – the Mystery Woman – as her aunt, Kathleen Newton.

Uncle Fred (Frederick Kelly with his niece Lilian Hervey, 1879-80), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 7 by 12 in. (17.78 by 30.48 cm). Private Colletion. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Uncle Fred (Kathleen Newton’s brother, Frederick Kelly, with his niece Lilian Hervey, 1879-80), previously had been in a private collection in Besançon, France.  Lloyd Webber purchased the painting at Sotheby’s, New York in February, 1994 for $ 320,000/£ 216,802.  It was Frederick Kelly, incidentally, who arranged Kathleen’s marriage to Isaac Newton, a surgeon in the Indian Civil Service on January 3, 1871, when she was seventeen.

The marriage ended in divorce within months, and Mrs. Newton returned to England.  She gave birth to a daughter at the end of the year, and a son in 1876, the year by which she began living with James Tissot in London.

Le banc de jardin/The Garden Bench (1882), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 99.1 by 142.2 cm. Private collection. (Photo: Wikiart)

American millionaire Frederick Koch (b. 1933) began collecting Victorian paintings in the 1980s.  James Tissot’s Le banc de jardin (The Garden Bench, c. 1882) set an auction price record in 1983, when Fred Koch paid $ 803,660/£ 520,000 for it at Christie’s, London.  This was a favorite image of Tissot’s, depicting his happy half-dozen years with Kathleen Newton and her children in his garden; the artist kept it all his life.  Pictured are Mrs. Newton, her daughter Violet (1871 – 1933), her son Cecil George (1876 – 1941), and a second girl who could be her niece Lilian Hervey or her niece Belle (behind the bench).  [See Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?]

Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882.  [See James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death.]

In October, 1994, Le Banc de jardin set another record for a Victorian picture – as well as a record to date for a Tissot painting – when Lloyd Webber purchased it from Fred Koch for $ 4,800,000/£ 3,035,093 at Sotheby’s, New York.

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

Lloyd Webber purchased The Widower (c. 1887), which Tissot exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877, at Sotheby’s, London in November, 1994 for $ 122,587/£ 75,000.

The Captain and the Mate, (1873), by James Tissot.  Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, © 2012

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

The Captain and the Mate (1873) features Margaret Kennedy (1840-1930), the wife of Tissot’s friend, Captain John Freebody, (b. 1834).  Freebody was the master of the Arundel Castle from 1872-73, and his ship took emigrants to America.  Margaret’s older brother, red-bearded Captain Lumley Kennedy (b. 1819), and her sister posed as well.  Tissot exhibited The Captain’s Daughter, The Last Evening and Too Early [both at the Guildhall Art Gallery, London] at the Royal Academy in 1873.

Lloyd Webber acquired The Captain and the Mate in 1995.  It is one of two paintings featuring Margaret Kennedy in private collections [the other is Boarding the Yacht (1873)].

The Return from the Boating Trip (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 24 by 17 in. (60.96 by 43.18 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

The Return from the Boating Trip (1873), one of dozens of Tissot oils that changed hands during the 1980s, was sold at Christie’s, London in 1982 for $ 31,852/£ 20,000.  It was acquired by Lloyd Webber in 1995.

“Good bye” – On the Mersey (c. 1881), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 33 by 21 in. (83.82 by 53.34 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

Lloyd Webber acquired “Goodbye” – On the Mersey, which depicts well-wishers on a small local ferry waving at a Cunad steamer setting sail from the port of Liverpool, in 1997.  It is one of two known versions painted by Tissot, the other, larger of which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1881 and was sold from The Forbes Collection in 2003 to a private collector.

Of course, the Tissot paintings form just a fraction of Lloyd Webber’s collection of Victorian art, but he owns more Tissot oils than the Tate Gallery in London.

A 1995 plan for putting his collection on permanent public view, in a gallery on the South Bank within a new £50 million arts complex designed by Sir Richard Rogers and entirely funded by Lloyd Webber’s theater operating company, the Really Useful Group, was dropped.

But Lord Lloyd-Webber and his wife, Madeleine, lent about three-quarters of their collection – some 200 paintings – to London’s Royal Academy of Arts for “Pre-Raphaelite and other masters:  the Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection,” from September  20 to December 12, 2003.  The collection is unlikely ever to be shown again, though Lloyd Webber has said, “I hope that after my death my family will be able to find a way to exhibit the best of my collection on a more permanent basis.”

In 2011, Lord Lloyd-Webber discussed his passion for the Pre-Raphaelites in a British television documentary, aired as part of the “Perspectives” series.  You can view this hour-long program, “A Passion for the Pre-Raphaelites,” in 15-minute increments by clicking the following links:

Part 1:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmO3ZO9TGgA

Part 2:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMcEhnON1ro

Part 3:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRBpNxdLotw

Part 4:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijxxbM-y4iQ

Related posts:

James Tissot oils at auction: Seven favorites

Kathleen Newton by James Tissot: eight auctioned oil paintings

James Tissot and the Revival of Victorian Art in the 1960s

If only we’d bought James Tissot’s paintings in the 1970s!

James Tissot’s popularity boom in the 1980s

©  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. 

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.

Was Cecil Newton James Tissot’s son?

Was James Tissot the father of Kathleen Newton’s son, Cecil George Newton, born in 1876?  It’s an interesting question, and to my knowledge, there is no documentation.  It is widely speculated that Tissot was Cecil’s father.  In the past four years that I’ve been researching Tissot, various online sources (art gallery biographies of Tissot, Wikipedia, art websites and blogs, etc.) once stated that Cecil “may have been” Tissot’s son, then that he “is believed” to be Tissot’s son or was “presumably his” – and increasingly, many now state that “it is generally accepted that Cecil is Tissot’s son” – but they cite no sources.  To date, I have seen no evidence proving that this is a fact.

A Little Nimrod (1882), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

My research into a range of scholarly sources, and the facts on inheritance law in France during Tissot’s lifetime, lead to me conclude that Tissot was not Cecil’s father.

What is known is that Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly married Dr. Isaac Newton on January 3, 1871, at age 17.  Her daughter, Violet Newton*, was born on December 20, 1871, whether the daughter of her husband or the man – Captain Palliser – over whom her husband divorced her within days of their marriage (the decree nisi was issued on December 30, 1871).  The focus of mystery is Kathleen’s second child, Cecil George Newton, born March 21, 1876; she registered his father as Dr. Isaac Newton.

Tissot went to Venice on holiday in early October, 1875 with Édouard and Suzanne Manet for several weeks.  If he had fathered Cecil, it would have been by the end of June, leaving Kathleen Newton for Venice in the second trimester of her pregnancy; he returned by mid-November.  The date that they began living together, supposed to be around 1876, coincides with this pregnancy and Cecil’s birth, but that in and of itself is not proof that Cecil’s father was James Tissot.

The first and only definitive assertion on the subject of Cecil Newton’s paternity is contained in a review (Art Journal, Vol. 45 No. 1, Spring 1985) of Michael Wentworth’s book, James Tissot, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.  The reviewer, Willard E. Misfeldt (a professor of Art History at Bowling Green State University, Ohio from 1967 to 2001), states, “As for Mrs. Newton’s second child, Cecil George, who was born in March 1876, more recent intelligence seems to settle positively the question of whether Tissot was his father.”  The footnote cites “Family oral tradition communicated directly to this reviewer.”

Misfeldt writes, “This would mean that Tissot and Kathleen met no later than June 1875, and probably earlier.”  He adds, “That Cecil and his sister occasionally visited Tissot in Paris [after the 1882 death of Kathleen Newton], as is stated, is probably accurate.  The family preserves the story, however, that on one occasion when Tissot returned to London, Cecil refused to see him because he felt that he had been abandoned by his father.”  This also is footnoted, “Family oral tradition communicated directly to this reviewer.”

Still, it is prudent to consider David S. Brooke’s assertion in his article, “James Tissot and the ‘Ravissante Irlandaise,’ ” (Connoisseur, May 1968).  Regarding information provided by Kathleen Newton’s niece, Lilian Hervey (1875 – 1952), as an adult sharing her childhood memories, Brooke (who served as the director of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts from 1977 to 1994) writes:  “some of her observations on her aunt’s earlier life should be read with caution, since she was presumably given a suitable version of it by her elders.”

Brooke’s article also states:  “Kathleen’s movements between December, 1871, and March, 1876, when she registered the birth of another child, Cecil George, giving Isaac Newton as the father, are not known [my italics].  In March, 1876, she was apparently living with her elder sister, Mary Hervey, at 6 Hill Road, St. John’s Wood, London, not far from Tissot’s house in Grove End Road.  It is uncertain when Tissot met Kathleen Newton, or whether he was the father of Cecil George.  She probably went to live with him about 1876-77.”

Study for “Mrs. Newton with a Child by a Pool” (c. 1877-78). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA.

Study for “Mrs. Newton with a Child by a Pool” (c. 1877-78). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA.

The article continues, “Tissot was clearly grief-stricken by Kathleen’s death [of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882], and according to Miss Hervey, he draped her coffin with purple velvet and prayed beside it for hours.  Leaving for Paris a few days later, he apparently abandoned the house and its contents.  According to a visitor at the time, his paints, brushes and several untouched canvases were still in the studio, and in the garden the old gardener was burning the mattress from the bed of the mysterious lady.”  [Tissot left for Paris after the November 14 funeral.  His elegant house at 17 Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood – now numbered 44, and renovated – sat empty until Lawrence Alma-Tadema purchased it in 1883.]

Brooke, at the end of this article, acknowledged the assistance of the following individuals:  “Mrs. Erica Newton, for her research, and to Miss Marita Ross, for allowing me to reproduce the photographs of Tissot and Kathleen Newton.  I am also indebted to Michael Wentworth, Willard Misfeldt (who is preparing a dissertation on Tissot), and Mrs. Erica Garbutt for their assistance.”

Willard Misfelt, in his 1971 doctoral dissertation on James Tissot, details the circumstances of Cecil Newton’s birth at 6 Hill Road, the home of Kathleen’s sister, Mrs. Mary Pauline Hervey (1851/52 – 1896).  They lived just around the corner from Tissot’s large house at Grove End Road in St. John’s Wood, London.  Mrs. Hervey (whose husband was said to be in the Indian army) had only lived at this address since “1876 or very late 1875,” according to Misfeldt:  “If Tissot was the actual father of Mrs. Newton’s second child (she registered the father as the man who had divorced her five years earlier) the meeting would have taken place no later than June, 1875, and presumably earlier, at which time Mrs. Hervey and her entourage were nowhere near St. John’s Wood.”  However, between the date of this dissertation and his 1985 review of Wentworth’s book on Tissot, Misfeldt learned of the “family oral tradition” that Cecil Newton was Kathleen’s son.

Other sources I consulted include:

  • Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz, ed., James Tissot (Barbican Art Gallery/Abbeville Press:  New York, 1985)

Among the contributors to this collection of essays by Tissot experts is Lady Jane Abdy (b. 1934, the director of the Bury Street Gallery in South Kensington, London, since 1991).  Lady Abdy writes, “A child was born in 1876, Cecil George, and we do not know whether it was Tissot’s, though in the tender way he depicted him in many portraits it seems probable.”  She adds, “Mrs. Newton’s two children lived with Mrs. Hervey; they were visitors to Grove End Road, not inhabitants, and their visits usually occurred at the hour of tea.” 

Hide and Seek (1877), by James Tissot.

Hide and Seek (1877), by James Tissot. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 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.

  • Christopher Wood, Tissot:  The Life and Work of Jacques Joseph Tissot, 1836-1902 (Little, Brown:  Boston, 1986)

In this work, Christopher Wood (1941 – 2009), director of Nineteenth Century Paintings at Christie’s, London from 1963 to 1976 and then an art dealer at the forefront of the revival in interest of Victorian art in the late 20th century with his gallery in Belgravia, stated that he did not believe Tissot was Cecil George Newton’s father.  He pointed out that Tissot left his estate to his French niece, though under French law he could have adopted an illegitimate son and left him his property.  Wood also argued that, like British painter Frederick Sandys (1829 – 1904) – who married a working class girl – Tissot could have married Kathleen and legitimized Cecil – if Cecil were his son.  But then, it is possible that Kathleen Newton, as a divorced Catholic in that era, may not have felt able to remarry.

Uncle Fred (c. 1879-1880), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org) [A depiction of Kathleen Newton’s niece, Lilian Hervey, with a man thought to be Kathleen’s brother, Frederick.]

  •  Jeffrey Meyers, Impressionist Quartet:  The Intimate Genius of Manet and Morisot, Degas and Cassatt (Harcourt, Inc.:  Orlando, Florida, 2005)

Distinguished biographer Jeffrey Meyers put the issue of French law succinctly in this book, in a discussion of Édouard Manet and Léon Leenhoff – the young man raised by him and his wife as her “brother” and Manet’s godson:

“The Manet scholar Susan Locke noted that there was a good reason why Manet did not legitimize Léon:  “in French law of the time, whereas nothing stood in the way of legitimization of children born out of wedlock upon the marriage of their parents, children born to individuals who were already married to others at the time of conception could never be legitimized under any circumstances.”  In other words, Manet could have legitimized Léon if Léon were his own son.  But he couldn’t, and didn’t, since Léon’s father was a married man.”  [In Manet’s case, it is believed by some scholars that Manet’s father also was Léon’s father.]

By 1991, when Willard E. Misfeldt’s J.J. Tissot:  Prints from the Gotlieb Collection was published (Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia), Misfeldt wrote:

“Writers on Tissot have ‘fudged’ the question of Cecil’s paternity.  Christopher Wood states outright that he does not believe Tissot was Cecil’s father.  Georges Bastard [author of a 1906 biographical article on Tissot] asserts that Tissot and Kathleen shared a life of Love and Art for seven years, which would indicate that they met in 1875, some time before Cecil was born.  It seems unlikely that Tissot would invite a woman pregnant with another man’s child to take part in his life.  Perhaps the question can never be resolved, but the prominence that Tissot gave the child in these last two major paintings from London [The Garden Bench, 1882; The Little Nimrod, 1882] would seem to lend credence to the theory that Cecil really was the artist’s natural son.”  A footnote reads, “Cecil kept up contact with Tissot and occasionally sent the artist souvenirs of his life in the theater.”

The Garden Bench (1882), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

I find it hard to believe that Tissot, in moving back to Paris upon Kathleen Newton’s death, would have abandoned his own son – his only son as well as his only child, and the child of the love of his life.  Cecil [if legitimized] stood to inherit the family name with a château in Besançon, France in the family for two generations as well as an elegant villa at 64, avenue du Bois du Boulogne [originally called the avenue de l’Impératrice, now avenue Foch], one of the most exclusive addresses in Paris.

Based on my extensive research, James Tissot seems to have been a decent man who was kind to Kathleen’s daughter and son in the years the couple spent together.  He painted Violet and Cecil as the adorable children they were – just as Millais, Renoir and other artists of the time painted numerous images of adorable children.  In The Garden Bench, the mischievous boy (with his bold, direct gaze at the viewer) is highlighted, the center of his  proud and indulgent mother’s attention, while the affectionate girls are relegated to the background, portrayed as demure and passive – all in keeping with the era’s assigned gender roles.  Tissot kept The Garden Bench, hung in the central stair hall of his château for the rest of his life, as a reminder of his happy days of family life in London.  There is no record of whether, or how often, Tissot exerted himself to keep in contact with Cecil Newton – but we do know what his Will, drawn up in January, 1898, provided upon his death in 1902.

Français : James Tissot

While dividing his assets between the three surviving adult children of his eldest brother, James Tissot’s Will stipulated that each of Kathleen Newton’s two children (whose addresses were located by a servant) would receive 1,000 francs.  Tissot’s servants were provided for more generously:  each received 200 francs per year in his service, employment with full wages for a period of one year after his death, plus 1,000 francs.

Misfeldt reports this information in his 1971 doctoral thesis on Tissot, conjecturing that “equal sums for the two [children of Kathleen Newton] might have seemed the best way to avoid arousing any embarrassing suspicions concerning two children who were by then young adults.”

Cecil married at 28, two years after Tissot died, and served in the Royal Artillery during World War I under the name Cecil Ashburnham.  He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1915 and was discharged as an invalided officer less than a year later.  He was divorced at age 48, and died as Cecil Ashburnham on May 4, 1941, at 21, First Avenue, Lancing (a town on the English Channel, near Brighton).  Cecil left no Will, but his estate, valued for probate at £108.12s.6d, was administered by George Ashburnham Newton, of Llandudno, a seaside town in Wales. 

With no conclusive evidence, I decided that it was as plausible that Cecil was not Tissot’s son as that he was, and I developed the story line for The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot accordingly as I continued my research.

As with any of the mysteries surrounding the fascinating life of James Tissot, I would be pleased to see facts emerge that prove one theory or another; I was trained as an art historian.  As a novelist, I chose to portray the facts on this subject according to my best information at the time.  To see how I reconciled the question of Cecil’s paternity, read The Hammock.

Kathleen Newton at the Piano (c. 1881), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

* Muriel Violet Mary Newton, born on December 20, 1871 in Conisbrough (a town in South Yorkshire where Kathleen Newton’s father had retired from the East India Company), attended Pensionnat de Soeurs de la Providence et de l’Immaculée Conception at Champion-lez-Namur, Belgium.  She married William Henry Bishop on October 19, 1925 in London and died of a heart attack on December 28, 1933 at the Hotel Cristina in Alcegiras, Spain.  She is buried in Spain.

For biographical information on Kathleen, Isaac, Violet & Cecil Newton, see Willard E. Misfeldt’s J.J. Tissot:  Prints from the Gotlieb Collection (Art Services International:  Alexandria, Virginia, 1991).

 

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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.