Tag Archives: Charles Gassiot

From Princess to Plutocrat: Tissot’s Patrons

The story of James Tissot’s patrons is the story of social transition:  in the late nineteenth century, art collecting ceased to be the prerogative of the aristocracy and became a status symbol for the new class of wealthy industrialists

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

Tissot moved to Paris from the seaport of Nantes in 1856 (before he turned 20 on October 15 of that year), to study art.  He lived in rented rooms in the crowded Latin Quarter and made his début at the Salon in 1859.  By 1865, Tissot was earning 70,000 francs a year, and had found his entrée to aristocratic patronage with The Marquis and the Marchioness of Miramon and their children [René de Cassagne de Beaufort, marquis de Miramon (1835 – 1882) and his wife, née Thérèse Feuillant (1836 – 1912), with their first two children, Geneviève (1863 – 1924) and Léon (1861 – 1884) on the terrace of the château de Paulhac in Auvergne].  The portrait of the Marquis and Marchioness of Miramon and their children remained in the family until 2006, when it was acquired by the Musée d’Orsay.  When exhibited in Paris in 1866, this painting served as Tissot’s calling card to the lucrative market for Society portraiture.

Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née, Thérèse Feuillant (1866), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, unframed: 50 1/2 x 30 3/8 in. (128.3 x 77.2 cm.). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

By 1866, Tissot’s oil portraits included dapper, upper-class gentlemen, attractive and well-dressed ladies of leisure, and a wealthy-looking boy of 12 or so wearing knee breeches and red and white diced Scottish hose.  Most stunning was his Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née Thérèse Feuillant, in her sitting room at the château de Paulhac in Auvergne.  Tissot wrote to her husband, who had commissioned the portrait, asking permission to display her portrait at the 1867 Paris International Exhibition.  The J. Paul Getty Museum, in Los Angeles, California, acquired the picture from the family in 2007.

Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1867), by James Tissot. 27 x 15 in. (68.58 x 38.10 cm.) Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Lucy Paquette

Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1867), by James Tissot. 27 x 15 in. (68.58 x 38.10 cm.) Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Lucy Paquette

In 1866 – at age 30 – Tissot won the right to exhibit anything he wished at the Salons.

Busy with commissions from his aristocratic patrons, he bought property to build a mansion in the avenue de l’Impératrice (Empress Avenue, now avenue Foch), Baron Haussmann’s magnificent new boulevard linking the Place de l’Etoile and the park grounds at the Bois de Boulogne.

While his house was under construction, Tissot painted Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1824 –1896), the president of the exclusive Jockey Club in Paris.  Married in 1853, Eugène Aimé Nicolas Coppens de Fontenay had three children. 

Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay remained in the family until 1971, when it was sold by Christie’s, London for $ 4,352 USD/£1,800 GBP.  It was purchased by the City of Philadelphia in 1972 and is on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Circle of the Rue Royale (1868), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 68 7/8 x 110 5/8 in. (175 x 281 cm.) Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo credit: Wikimedia.org)

Tissot moved into his elegant new villa by 1868, and he furnished it in lavish Second Empire taste, forming a collection of Chinese and Japanese art for which he became renowned, and which he featured in many of his paintings.  That year, he painted a hearty slice of the French aristocracy in a group portrait, The Circle of the Rue Royale (1868).  Members of this exclusive club, founded in 1852, each paid Tissot a sitting fee of 1,000 francs.  He portrayed them on a balcony of the Hôtel de Coislin overlooking the Place de la Concorde (if you look closely at the original painting, you can see the horse traffic through the balustrade).  From left to right: Count Alfred de La Tour Maubourg (1834-1891), Marquis Alfred du Lau d’Allemans (1833-1919), Count Étienne de Ganay (1833-1903), Captain Coleraine Vansittart (1833-1886), Marquis René de Miramon (1835-1882), Count Julien de Rochechouart (1828-1897), Baron Rodolphe Hottinguer (1835-1920; he kept the painting according to the agreed-upon drawing of lots), Marquis Charles-Alexandre de Ganay (1803-1881), Baron Gaston de Saint-Maurice (1831-1905), Prince Edmond de Polignac (1834-1901), Marquis Gaston de Galliffet (1830-1909) and Charles Haas (1833-1902).  The Musée d’Orsay acquired The Circle of the Rue Royale in 2011 from Baron Hottinguer’s descendants.

Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens (1867), by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Princess Mathilde Bonaparte. Photo: Wikimedia.org

At the 1868 Salon, Tissot exhibited two oil paintings, one of which, Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens, was purchased by Napoleon III’s influential cousin, Princess Mathilde.  Mathilde was an artist herself and had won a medal at the 1865 Paris Salon.

Meanwhile, the rising industrial class was beginning to invest in art.

Tissot exhibited Le confessional (Leaving the Confessional, 1865), an oil painting, at the 1866 Salon when he was 30, still living in student lodgings in the Latin Quarter while gaining recognition and success in Paris.  A watercolor version, which is smaller but otherwise virtually identical to the original oil, was commissioned in 1867 by American grain merchant and liquor wholesaler William Thompson Walters (1819 – 1894).  Upon his death, his son and fellow art collector Henry Walters (1848 – 1931), inherited his father’s collection and bequeathed it to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland at his death.  Tissot’s watercolor, The Confessional, is not on view.

The Confessional (c. 1867), by James Tissot. Watercolor, 10 3/8 by 5 11/16 in. (26.4 by 14.4 cm). Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Other collectors of James Tissot’s paintings in the United States included:  Massachusetts shipper and banker Alvin Adams (1804 – 1877); New York lawyer Robert Livingston Cutting (1836 – 1894); Pennsylvania dry goods merchant, woolens manufacturer and financier Thomas Dolan (1834 – 1914); Pennsylvania banker, real estate developer and distiller Henry C. Gibson (1830 – 1891); and New York lawyer and judge Henry Hilton (1824 – 1899).

After the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–71, and the bloody Commune uprising in Paris in the spring of 1871, Tissot moved to London.  Within two years, he had established himself in a large house with a studio, a conservatory and a luxurious garden in St. John’s Wood.  While British aristocrats did not purchase his paintings, plenty of newly-wealthy businessmen sought his work as they enhanced their social status by building art collections.  Because provenance (the history of ownership) of Old Masters paintings was not always meticulously documented at this time, many new collectors – wary of fakes – concentrated on contemporary artists so they would know exactly what they were getting for their money.

On the Thames, A Heron (c. 1871-1872) is one of Tissot’s first paintings after his arrival in London – and it was the first on record to be sold at auction in England.  Calculated to appeal to Victorian tastes, this Japanese-influenced scene initially was owned by London banker José de Murrieta, a member of a prominent Spanish family.  Murrieta tried to sell the painting on May 24, 1873 as On the Thames:  the frightened heron; priced at 570 guineas, it did not find a buyer.  His brother, Antonio de Murrieta, attempted and failed to sell it on June 15, 1873 for 260 guineas.  As The Heron, the painting was sold by Sotheby’s, New York in 1973 for $ 32,000 USD/£ 12,886 GBP.  On the Thames, A Heron was the gift of collector Mrs. Patrick Butler, by exchange, to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and is on display.

In 1883, At the Rifle Range (1869) was offered for sale by one of the de Murrieta brothers at Christie’s, London as The Crack Shot, for £220.10s but failed to find a buyer at that price.  It was purchased by Captain Bambridge in 1937 at the Leicester Galleries in London.  Captain George Bambridge (1892 – 1943), a British diplomat, was married to Rudyard Kipling’s daughter, Elsie (1896 – 1976).  From 1938, the childless couple resided at Wimpole Hall, about 8½ miles (14 kilometres) southwest of Cambridge.  Since Elsie Bambridge’s death in 1976, the estate has been owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.

Les Adieux was reproduced as a steel engraving by John Ballin and published by Pilgeram and Lefèvre in 1873 – an indication of its popularity.  The picture was owned by wealthy international railway contractor Charles Waring (c. 1827 – 1887).  After his death, it was sold for 220 guineas at Christie’s, London to the father of Lt. Col. P.L.E. Walker, from whom it was purchased by the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery in 1955.

Tissot’s The Last Evening was purchased from Agnew’s, a London art dealership that specialized in “high-class modern paintings,” by Charles Gassiot (1826 – 1902), a London wine merchant and art patron who lived in a mansion in Upper Tooting, Surrey.  Gassiot bought The Last Evening in February, 1873, before it was exhibited at the Royal Academy, for £1,000.  He and his wife Georgiana, a childless couple, donated a number of his paintings, including The Last Evening, to the Guildhall Art Gallery from 1895 to 1902.  This picture is currently on view.  Gassiot also purchased Tissot’s Too Early, from Agnew’s in March, 1873 (before its exhibition at the Royal Academy that year), for £1,155.  Gassiot bequeathed it to the Guildhall Art Gallery, where it is on view for visitors.

Tissot sold La Visite au Navire to Agnew’s, London, in mid-June 1873.  Less than five months later, at the beginning of November, Agnew’s, Liverpool sold the painting to art collector David Jardine (c.1826 – 1911) of Highlea, Beaconsfield Road, Woolton.  Jardine, a timber broker and ship owner, was the head of Farnworth & Jardine, world famous for their mahogany auctions; a man of considerable ability and courtesy, he was well liked for his “courtly bearing.”  Incidentally, this picture, purchased from the Leicester Galleries, London by William Hulme Lever, 2nd Lord Leverhulme, in 1933, was sold as A Visit to the Yacht following a sale at Sotheby’s, London on December 4, 2013.  A buyer in the United States purchased the picture for a price within the estimated £2 to 3 million GBP it was expected to bring at the auction.  [See For sale: A Visit to the Yacht, c. 1873, by James Tissot]

The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874) was purchased from Tissot by London art dealer William Agnew (1825 – 1910), the year it was completed and sold to Hilton Philipson (1834 – 1904), a solicitor and colliery owner living at Tynemouth.  (Philipson also spent 620 guineas at Agnew’s for John Everett Millais’ 1874 painting, The Picture of Health, a portrait of Millais’ daughter, Alice (later Mrs. Charles Stuart Wortley).  The Ball on Shipboard, which has been in the collection of the Tate since 1937, is not on display.

In 1874, James Tissot sold paintings to two aristocrats: the exiled Empress of France, widow of Napoleon III, Eugénie de Montijo (1826 –1920), and Irish peer Mervyn Wingfield, 7th Viscount Powerscourt (1836 – 1904).  Lord Powerscourt, whose forebears had lived since 1300 on a magnificent estate outside Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland, paid £1,000 for Avant le Départ (Private Collection), and by autumn, Tissot was commissioned to paint a double portrait, The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874, Musée Nationale du Château de Compiègne, France).  After this, Tissot’s paintings continued to be purchased primarily by industrialists [though in the late 1880s, he executed pastel portraits of some aristocratic women].

Chrysanthemums (c. 1874-76) was purchased by British cotton magnate, MP and contemporary art collector Edward Hermon (1822 – 1881) by 1877.  Hermon eventually owned over 70 paintings, including works by J.M.W. Turner, Sir Edwin Landseer, and John Everett Millais, which he displayed in the picture gallery of his magnificent French Gothic estate, Wyfold Court, built at Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire between 1872 and 1878.  Chrysanthemums was purchased by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute at Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1994.

Portrait of Mrs Catherine Smith Gill and Two of her Children (1877), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas; 60.04 x 39.96 in. (152.5 x 101.5 cm.). Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

Mr. Chapple Gill (c.1833 – 1901/2), was the son of Robert Gill, a Liverpool cotton broker of Knotty Cross and R. & C. Gill; the son joined the business in 1857 and had risen to senior partner [by 1880, he became head of the firm].  In 1877, he commissioned French painter Tissot, then living in London, to paint a portrait of his wife, Catherine Smith Carey (1847-1916), whom he had married on June 10, 1868 at Childwall.  She was the only child of Thomas Carey (1809 – c. 1875), a wealthy, retired estate agent.  Tissot’s portrait of Catherine Smith Gill shows her – heiress at age 30 – sitting in the drawing-room window of her mother’s home at Lower Lee, at Woolton near Liverpool, which was built by Catherine’s father.  The portrait was purchased from Berkeley Chapple Gill, grandson of Mrs. Gill – the son of the little boy in the painting – in 1979, and it remains on view at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.  Click here for an interactive view of it, and compare this 1877 Victorian family portrait to Portrait of the Marquis and Marchioness of Miramon and their children, which was considered a very modern, informal family portrait in Paris in 1865.

Kaye Knowles, Esq. (1835-1886), was a London banker whose vast wealth came from shares in his family’s Lancashire coal mining business, Andrew Knowles and Sons.  Knowles, a client of London art dealer Algernon Moses Marsden [1848-1920, see Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?], owned a large art collection, including works by Sir Edwin Landseer, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Rosa Bonheur, Giuseppe De Nittis, Atkinson Grimshaw and Édouard Detaille.  He eventually owned four oil paintings by James Tissot, including The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst; On the Thames (1876, The Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, Wakefield, West Yorkshire); and In the Conservatory (also known as Rivals, c. 1875-1876, Private Collection).  Incidentally, after Knowles’ sudden death, In the Conservatory (Rivals) was sold with his estate as Afternoon Tea by Christie’s, London, on May 14, 1887.  William Agnew (1825 – 1910), the most influential art dealer in London – who represented Tissot for a time during the 1870s – bought the painting at this sale for 50 guineas and passed it to one of Kaye’s executors, his brother, Andrew Knowles, on May 16, 1887.  It recently was deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  [See For sale: In the Conservatory (Rivals), c. 1875, by James Tissot]

Andrew Knowles also owned Tissot’s The Convalescent (1875/1876), which was exhibited at the 1876 Royal Academy exhibition.  In the collection of Museums Sheffield since 1949, it is not currently on view.

Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877) originally was owned by Henry Jump (1820 – 1893), a wealthy Justice of the Peace and corn merchant living at Gateacre, Lancashire.  It has been in the collection of the Tate since 1941 and is not currently on display.

Bad News (The Parting, 1872), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 68.6 x 91.4 cm. National Museum Cardiff. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

William Menelaus (1818 – 1882) was a Scottish-born engineer, iron and steel manufacturer, and inventor. Widowed after only ten weeks of marriage, he never remarried but raised two nephews (William Darling, who became a law lord, and Charles Darling, who became an MP and later a baron). Menelaus earned a fortune at the Dowlais Ironworks in South Wales, and his only extravagance was his art collection, which was said to fill his home in Merthyr. He donated pieces to the Cardiff Free Library, then upon his death, bequeathed to it the remaining thirty-six paintings, valued at £10,000. His bequest, which included James Tissot’s Bad News (The Parting), painted in 1872, is now in the collection of the National Museum Cardiff. Bad News (The Parting) is displayed in Gallery 6, Level 4.

Quiet (c. 1881) 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 1993, selling for $ 416,220/£ 280,000.  In perfect condition, it shows Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882), and her niece, Lilian Hervey in the garden of Tissot’s house at 17 Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, in north London.  It was Lilian Hervey who, in 1946, publicly identified the model long known only as “La Mystérieuse” – the Mystery Woman – as her aunt, Kathleen Newton.

Related blog posts:

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

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

James Tissot’s house at St. John’s Wood, London

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

©  2014 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

Tissot in the U.K.: London, at The Geffrye & the Guildhall

The Geffrye Museum of the Home and the Guildhall Art Gallery, two museums in east London, off the beaten tourist path, boast oil paintings by James Tissot.  By 1873, two years after Tissot arrived in London, he had established himself in a Queen Anne-style villa at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood.  His garden was designed with a blend of English-style flower beds as well as plantings familiar to him from French parks.  Gravel paths led to kitchen gardens and greenhouses for flowers, fruit and vegetables.

The Garden, by James Tissot (oil on canvas, 27 x 21 cm.).  Courtesy www.jamestissot.org

View of the Garden at 17 Grove End Road (c. 1882), by James Tissot (oil on canvas, 27 x 21 cm.). Geffrye Museum of the Home. Courtesy http://www.jamestissot.org

The Geffrye Museum of the Home has Tissot’s View of the Garden at 17 Grove End Road, c. 1882.  Previously in a private collection, it was sold to Agnew’s by Sotheby’s, London in 2000 for $14,215 USD/£ 10,000 GBP (Hammer).  In 2004, the Geffrye purchased the painting from Agnew’s for £21,000, with assistance from The Art Fund, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and The Friends of the Geffrye Museum.  It is not currently on view but may be later this year.

London’s Guildhall Art Gallery, which contains the art collection of the City of London, has three oil paintings by Tissot:  The Last Evening, Too Early, and Civic Procession. 

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

In The Last Evening (1873, oil on canvas), Tissot depicts a scene fraught with tension.  The woman was modeled by 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.  He is the younger man in the painting, and Margaret’s older brother, Captain Lumley Kennedy (b. 1819, the master of the Aphrodite in 1872), is the man with the red beard.  Tissot exhibited The Last Evening and The Captain’s Daughter (1873, Southampton City Art Gallery) at the Royal Academy in 1873.

Tissot was represented, for a time, by the most influential art dealer in London, William Agnew (1825 – 1910), who was helping to create a market for contemporary British art.  Agnew advertised these works as “high-class modern paintings.”  The Last Evening was purchased from Agnew by Charles Gassiot (1826 – 1902), a London wine merchant and art patron who lived in a mansion in Upper Tooting, Surrey.  Gassiot bought it in February, 1873, before it was exhibited at the Royal Academy, for  £1,000.  He and his wife Georgiana, a childless couple, donated a number of his paintings, including The Last Evening, to the Guildhall Art Gallery from 1895 to 1902.  This picture is currently on view.

Too Early (1873), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 71 x 102 cm. Guildhall Art Gallery. Photo: Wikimedia.org

Tissot also exhibited Too Early (1873, oil on canvas, 71 x 102 cm.) at the Royal Academy in 1873, where it was his first big success after moving to London two years previously.  According to his friend, the painter Louise Jopling (1843 – 1933), Too Early “made a great sensation…It was a new departure in Art, this witty representation of modern life.”  One critic wrote that he “fairly out-Tissoted himself in his studies of character and expression.  [The] truthfulness and delicate perception of the humor of the ‘situation’ [compares to that found] in the novels of Jane Austen, the great painter of the humor of ‘polite society’.”  Too Early was purchased by Agnew and sold in March, 1873 (before its exhibition at the Royal Academy that year) to Charles Gassiot for £1,155.  Gassiot bequeathed it to the Guildhall Art Gallery, where it is on view for visitors.  You can glimpse it on the wall in this brief video from May 23, 2013, “Treasures in the Guildhall Art Gallery,” at :39, behind Assistant Curator Katty Pearce, then again at 3:13.

Tissot gave A Civic Procession Descending Ludgate Hill, London (c. 1879, oil on canvas, 84.5 x 43 in./214.6 x 109.2 cm.), previously called The Lord Mayor’s Show, to the Curator of the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris.  The painting was purchased by the Corporaton of London through S.C. L’Expertise, Paris, from the curator’s granddaughter, Mme. Léonce Bénédite, in 1972 and is now in the collection of the Guildhall Art Gallery.  It is not currently on view, but see James Tissot’s “A Civic Procession” (c. 1879).

 

I am grateful to the following individuals for providing some of the information from which I compiled this article:

Emma Hardy, Collections Manager (Care and Access), The Geffrye Museum of the Home

and the Social Media Staff at the Guildhall Art Gallery

Related blog posts:

Tissot in the U.K.: Bristol & Southampton

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

James Tissot’s house at St. John’s Wood, London

A Closer Look at Tissot’s “Too Early”

© 2014 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?

Algeron Moses Marsden

Algernon Moses Marsden (1877), by James Tissot.  19 x 29 in./48.26 x 73.66 cm.  Private collection.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Algernon Moses Marsden (1847 – 1920), one of fourteen children of Isaac Moses (1809 – 1884) and his second wife, Esther Gomez, was a more colorful character than James Tissot’s urbane portrait of him suggests.

At the age of 18 or 19, Isaac Moses had married Rachel Hyams, the daughter of Hyam Hyams, a Jewish entrepreneur in the ready-made clothing industry.  Isaac’s father, Elias Moses (1783 – 1868), owned a small clothier’s business in Houndsditch in east London.  With Elias, Isaac Moses established the firm of E. Moses & Son, ready-made clothing manufacturers and retailers, in 1832, first in Ratcliffe Highway in the East End, and soon afterwards in Aldgate, on the edge of the City.

By 1833, Isaac Moses lived with his wife and four young children at 154 Minories, Whitechapel, over the immense emporium of E. Moses & Son, located at the corner of the Minories (near the Tower of London) and Aldgate (154, 155, 156 and 157 Minories, and 83, 84, 85 and 86 Aldgate, City of London).

Rachel Hyams died in 1836, and in 1845, thirty-six-year-old Isaac Moses married the twenty-year-old Esther Gomes Silva (1825 – 1908).  Esther was born in 1825 in Kingston, Jamaica to the Gomes Silva family, Sephardic Jews who had lived in Jamaica for generations after fleeing the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal in 1663.

Isaac still lived at 154 Minories, Whitechapel, over the shop, and Esther became the step-mother to Isaac’s five children with Rachel:  Julia (16), Kate (14), Maurice (13), Montague (12) and Rachel (9, who died at 10 in 1847).

In 1846, the floor space of the Ready-Made Clothing Emporium at Aldgate grew to four times its original size, and soon nearly doubled again, becoming the largest shop in London:  “…the ornate showrooms were spread over three floors, with a galleried well running through the top two floors.  Instead of having a lantern or skylight, Moses’s well was illuminated by an enormous chandelier – or gasolier – which was suspended over the main counter, with secondary branches lighting the gallery level.”  (Kathryn Morrison, English Shops and Shopping: an Architectural History, Paul Mellon, 2003, via http://tonyseymour.com/people/elias-moses).

“First, the emporium itself was designed to attract custom. It had a high classical portico, tall ground-floor windows, and bright interior lighting, and offered impeccable service to any who wandered in. No building was like it in all of London. Second, little expense was spared in advertising the top-quality clothes, available at such cheap prices and only in the emporium. The advertisements were sometimes placed in magazines but usually they were freely distributed throughout London in the form of little booklets. Many of the latter have survived and show that popular current events were used as the basis for a doggerel (probably composed by Isaac) on the emporium’s virtues. Third, clearly displayed fixed prices cut out any haggling and enabled staff to spend their time cultivating the image of a well-to-do West End bespoke tailors by standing in attendance on customers.”  (Andrew Godley’s entry on Elias Moses, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, via http://tonyseymour.com/people/elias-moses)

The emporium’s collection of stuffed lions, tigers, giraffes, and more must have attracted many customers as well.

Isaac’s second wife, Esther, bore him fourteen more children, ten daughters and four sons, beginning with Madeleine (1846 – 1880), Algernon (1847 – 1920), Herbert Philip (1848 – 1936), Angelina Florence (1849 – 1854).  By 1849, Isaac Moses and his family resided at 11 Sussex Place, Paddington.  Another daughter, Edith Josephine, was born (1850 – 1919), followed by Georgina Hester (1851 – 1881).  By 1851, Isaac and his family lived at 36 & 37 Gloucester Square, Hyde Park.  Constance Rebecca was born (1852 – 1889), and Rodolph Isaac (1853 – 1939).  Angelina Florence died at four in 1854, and a year later, Sybila [or Sybilla] Augusta was born.  She died the following year.  Adela Louise was born (1856 – 1941), followed by Stephen Leopold (1858 – 1940), Isabel Blanche (1861 – 1945), Beatrice Helen (1865 – 1853) and Ida Frances (1868 – 1953).

Toward the end of 1855, Isaac Moses bought the lease to a grand new house at 23 Kensington Palace Gardens.  A year later, he commissioned the architect J. D. Hopkins to design a two-bay, three-storey extension at the south-west corner and a bow-fronted ballroom at the back.

In a five-day auction of properties in St. John’s Wood in 1858, Isaac Moses, one of his sons-in-law, and his son-in-law’s father purchased a number of properties.  In 1858, Isaac purchased Lord’s cricket ground for £5,910, selling it in 1866 to the Marylebone Cricket Club for £18,333. 

By the 1860s, E. Moses & Son had several branches in Great Britain and throughout the Empire and claimed that 80% of the British population bought ready-made clothing.  Because of the firm’s pioneering marketing techniques as well as the import of the Singer sewing machine in the 1850s and 1860s, working-class men and women now could buy affordable versions of styles worn by the rich.

In 1865, twenty years after Isaac’s marriage to Esther, the entire family adopted the additional surname Marsden.

On May 31, 1871, when Algernon Moses Marsden was 24, he married Louise Frances Hyam (1850 – 1928, though some sources say she died in 1924), likely from the same Hyam family as Rachel.  The Hyams family lived in Ipswich, Suffolk and was affiliated with Hart and Levy in Leicester, a firm founded in 1859 that became one of the largest clothing manufacturers in Britain.

Rather than join the family clothing business, Algernon established himself as a picture dealer at the Conduit Street Gallery in St. James’s.  He appears in an 1872 trade directory as “MARSDEN, Algernon M. Esq., MDX, London, 18 Pembridge Villas Bayswater W.”

James Tissot fled Paris in the aftermath of the Commune in late May or early June, 1871, and established himself in the competitive London art market.  By March 1872 (and until 1873), he lived at 73 Springfield Road; he then bought the lease on a medium-sized house with a large garden in Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, built in the 18th century on part of the grounds of the abbey for which Abbey Road was named.  It is possible that Tissot made the acquaintance of the Marsden family through his interest in painting clothing or through the Marsdens’ ownership of property in St. John’s Wood – or, perhaps, he merely met and liked the engaging, witty young Algernon Moses Marsden.

According to Tony Seymour, the great-great-grandson of Algernon Moses Marsden’s father, Algernon’s aunt – Julia White, the sister of his mother, Esther – died of pneumonia at age 37, six weeks after the birth of her fifteenth child.  Her husband Edward Fox White, of 13 Belsize Park Gardens, Hampstead, was a “dealer in works of art.”  Tissot’s portrait of him [measuring 29 by 21 in. (73.66 by 53.34 cm.); click here and scroll down to see it] was passed down through the family until until 1988, when it was sold at Sotheby’s for £50,000/$ 92,205 (Hammer price).  Tony Seymour conjectures that Edward Fox White introduced Tissot to Algernon Moses Marsden, who became Tissot’s dealer.

Tissot was represented, for a time, by the most influential art dealer in London, William Agnew (1825 – 1910), who was helping to create a market for contemporary British art.  He advertised these works as “high-class modern paintings.”  Agnew purchased Tissot’s painting, The Last Evening (Guildhall Art Gallery, London) and sold it to Charles Gassiot (1826-1902), a London wine
merchant and art patron, in February, 1873, before it was exhibited at the Royal Academy exhibition that year, for £1,000.  Tissot’s first big success in London, Too Early (1873), was purchased by Agnew and sold on March 20, 1873 (before its exhibition at the Royal Academy) to Charles Gassiot for £1,155.  Tissot’s The Ball on Shipboard (c.1874), exhibited at the Royal Academy, May-August 1874, was purchased that year by Agnew’s gallery and sold it to Hilton Philipson (1834 – 1904), a solicitor, colliery owner and art collector living at Tynemouth.

The Last Evening (1873), by James Tissot. Guildhall Art Gallery, London. Photo: Wikimedia.org

Too Early (1873), by James Tissot.  Guildhall Art Gallery, London.  (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

English: Oil painting, Ball on Shipboard by Ja...

Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874), by James Tissot, Tate Britain, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is little information on any of Tissot’s paintings that Marsden may have sold.  But Tissot’s In the Conservatory (Rivals), c. 1875, a masterpiece that is being deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art at Christie’s, New York on October 28, 2013 [see For sale: In the Conservatory (Rivals), c. 1875, by James Tissot], is listed in the auction catalogue as having originally been “(probably) with Algernon Moses Marsden, London.”  The lot notes suggest that Marsden modeled for one of the figures in this painting:  “The dark-haired young man with moustache in the teatime scene looks very similar to Marsden, whose portrait Tissot painted in 1877.”  In 1876, Marsden purchased one of Tissot’s paintings, Marguerite in Church (c. 1860), from the dealer Goupil for £ 315, presumably to sell it himself for more.

[ H ] William Holman Hunt - Il Dolce far Nient...

Il Dolce far Niente (1866), by William Holman Hunt.  (Photo credit: Cea.)

Also in 1876, Marsden sold William Holman Hunt’s 1866 Il Dolce far Niente, through Christie’s, London, to Lewis Pocock for 281 guineas.  [In 2003, this painting was sold by Christie’s, London for £666,650/$1,062,640].

James Tissot painted Algernon Moses Marsden’s portrait in 1877, in the elegant new studio of his home in St. John’s Wood [the setting often is erroneously identified as Marsden’s study].  This portrait, just a bit larger than Tissot’s 1870 portrait of Gus Burnaby, remained in the Marsden family for nearly a century.  Algernon Marsden at age 30 appears sophisticated and well-to-do, but his high living cost his father thousands of pounds and resulted in his bankruptcy by August of 1881, at age 34.  Marsden was then employed by the King Street Galleries, St. James, and had accumulated debts of £6,218, with assets of only £2,825.  In August of 1882, this bankruptcy was annulled because the debts were settled in court through a Trustee to whom Marsden paid “a sum which, with the sum the Trustee has now in hand, will be sufficient to pay all the creditors.”

According to the 1881 Census, Algernon and Louise resided at 97 Linden Gardens, Kensington, with five daughters between the ages of one and seven, plus five servants. Algernon’s 23-year-old niece, Josephine Silva, born in Australia, to Algernon’s step-sister Kate and John Gomes Silva, lived with them as well.

Of Algernon’s remaining ten siblings, six still lived at home:  Herbert Philip (32, a tea broker); Adela Louise (24); Stephen Leopold (22, a West India merchant); Isabel Blanche (20); Beatrice Helen (15); and Ida Frances (13).

Isaac Moses Marsden died at home, 4 Kensington Gardens Terrace, in 1884.  In one of ten codicils to his will, he states, “my said son Algernon Marsden has recently been adjudged a Bankrupt.”  Isaac disinherited Algernon but provided legacies for his wife and children. 

In bankruptcy court again in 1887, at 40, Marsden had £1,295 in debts and only £20 in assets.  In court, he said that when money came in, he “got rid of it” by gambling, particularly at the racetrack.  He admitted to overspending for weeks at Eastbourne, a fashionable resort.  He described his profession as an art dealer as a “peculiar and speculative one.”  When he added that it was always a “fluke” to get hold of a man with money, he brought laughter from the court.  [In 1888, Algernon’s 35-year-old brother, Rodolph, who was a tailor in Hampstead, became bankrupt as well.]

By the 1891 Census, Algernon Moses Marsden, his wife, nine daughters and one son had moved to 82 Redcliffe Gardens, South Kensington.  [According to one source, he had eleven children, though perhaps his first son died young:  Gerald Howard Algernon (1872 – ?), Sybil Louise (1873 – 1946), Hilda Ethel (1874 – 1906), Muriel Alice (1875 – 1922), Dora Helen Edith (1876 – 1939), Effie Gwendoline Josephine (1880 – 1971), Olga Florelle (1882 – 1963), Madeline Joan Adela (1884 – 1966), Wilfred Humphrey Algernon (1885 – 1916), Mildred Isabel Florence (1887 – 1914), and Constance Barbara Sylvia (1889 – 1972).]

By December, 1900, Algernon Moses Marsden was listed in the London Gazette’s bankruptcy announcements as “lately carrying on business at 28 Basinghall Street, in the city of London, [as a] merchant.”

Bankrupt for at least the third time, Algernon, at age 54, fled to the United States with another woman in 1901.  His abandoned wife and ten children continued on at 82 Redcliffe Gardens, South Kensington.

One of the daughters, Dora Helen Edith, married Guiseppe Arbib in 1908. Dora and Guiseppe Arbib had three sons: Reuben Richard (Dick), Albert Maurice (Billy, who emigrated to Israel after World War II), and John Reginald (who emigrated to Australia via New Zealand after WWII and died in Sydney in 2003).

Another of Algernon’s daughters, Sybil Marsden, was, by 1908, a dressmaker with a shop at 69 Church Street, London.  A suffragette who went by the name “Mrs. Sybil Mantalini,” she refused to provide details about herself in the 1911 Census.  Instead, she wrote this statement, only recently discovered and transcribed by researcher and writer Elizabeth Crawford, on her Census form:

“I, Mdme Mantalini, a municipal voter and tax payer, refuse to fill in this census paper, as I have no intention of furnishing this government with information and thereby helping them to legislate for women without obtaining their consent or first consulting them in the [missing words] effective way possible & extending the franchise to duly qualified women. As a responsible, law-abiding citizen I have conducted my business for sixteen years; as an employer of labour I have [contributed?] to the wealth of the state and in return I have been taxed for the upkeep of no 10 Downing Street. No 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the prime minister, but converted by his wife into a show-room for a French [dress maker?] (free of all duty and taxation) to exhibit his Paris models and take orders from them to be executed in Paris. I [missing words] with very few exceptions the dressmaking establishments in England are all owned by women, & only women & [missing words] workers. It therefore comes to this, that the only way open to us to protest at ‘our trade’ being ruined in [missing words] our taxes, is to drive home to the government by every method available that women are determined [missing words – perhaps ‘not to be governed’] without their consent.”

Sybil Marsden died in 1946, leaving over £5,000 from her successful dressmaking business.

In 1912, The Times of London reported that Algernon Moses Marsden was bankrupt, but he was living in New York, where he died on January 23, 1920.  His tombstone in Mt. Hope Cemetery (Section S, http://mcnygenealogy.com/maps/mt-hope-sec-s.jpg), Rochester, New York, is inscribed:  “MARSDEN Algernon Moses of London, Eng.; d Jan 23, 1920 æ 72y” [at the age of 72 years].

Tissot’s 1877 Portrait of Algernon Moses Marsden, which captures the man in his moment of youth and apparent success, was sold by Sotheby’s, London in 1971 for $4,838/£2,000.  In 1983, it was sold by Christie’s, London for $65,677/£45,000.  [Hammer prices.]

For more information on the Moses Marsden family, see Tony Seymour’s highly informative website:  http://tonyseymour.com/people/isaac-marsden

To read Elizabeth Crawford’s fascinating  July 30, 2012 blog post on Sybil Marsden, click here.

©  2013 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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