Tag Archives: J.E. Millais

The Company He Kept: James Tissot’s Friends

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

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James Tissot, age 20-21

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

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

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James Whistler

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

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

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

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

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Lawrence Alma-Tadema

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

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

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Édouard Manet

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Emmanuel Chabrier, by Édouard Manet

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

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John Everett Millais

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

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Alphonse Daudet

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

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

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Ernest Meissonier

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Ferdinand Heilbuth

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

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Alfred Stevens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chichester Fortescue

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

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

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Ouida

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

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

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

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

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

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Louise Jopling

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

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

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Berthe Morisot, by Édouard Manet

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

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

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

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

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Sir Julius Benedict

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Self-Portrait, Giuseppe Di Nittis

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

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

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George Adolphus Storey

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

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

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

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

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

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Sir Charles Wyndham

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Sir Henry Irving

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

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

© 2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

Related posts:

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

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

James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71

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

James Tissot and Alfred Stevens

James Tissot: Portraits of the Artist

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library

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

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Of Snobbery, Death & Parlormaids: Millais, Alma-Tadema & Whistler, 1869

In March 1869, Millais, now 40, was in Hastings, recuperating from typhoid.  Several weeks later, at the Royal Academy, he exhibited a portrait of his deer-stalking friend, the millionaire London Underground engineer John Fowler, as well as Vanessa, both painted the previous year.  But he was prolific, and he also exhibited The Gambler’s Wife, A Dream of Dawn, The End of the Chapter and Miss Nina Lehmann, daughter of F. Lehmann, Esq.

English: Vanessa, 1868, by John Everett Millais

Vanessa, 1868, by John Everett Millais (Photo: Wikipedia)

Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet

Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet, by J.E. Millais (Photo: Wikipedia) 

In these years, while living at 7 Cromwell Place near the South Kensington Museum, John and Effie Millais socialized at grand balls and state receptions with the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, Cyril Flower (later Lord Battersea), and foreign dignitaries including Italy’s General Garibaldi, Prince Alexander of Bulgaria and the Shah of Persia.  Millais’ personal friends included notable literary, music, theatrical, scientific and political, diplomatic, and military figures.

Even so, while stag hunting in Scotland this year, Millais was frustrated to find the beats designated according to social rank, so that the lords and baronets were given the best shooting opportunities and Millais was relegated to stalking ground where there were no deer. Still, he characteristically referred to these men as “capital” chaps and only regretted that the snobbery was rather unsportsmanlike.

Whistler, living in London and still discouraged, had nothing to show for his artistic experimentation.  For all his earnest attempts, he did not complete any new work in 1869.  He had not exhibited his work since the Paris World Exposition in 1867.  He feared being rejected by the Salon and Royal Academy, and if his work was accepted, he feared the humiliation that it would be badly hung.

Whistler lived in some elegance at 2 Lindsay Row (now 96 Cheyne Walk), near Battersea Bridge, where he had moved upon his return from Valparaiso at the end of 1866.  He had broken off with Joanna Heffernan, though they saw each other occasionally.  Jo had been virtually his wife from 1861, modeling for him, managing his household and helping him sell his work.  But by 1869, at 35, Whistler had eyes for at least one other woman:  Louisa Fanny Hanson, age 20.  She is believed to have been a parlormaid from Clapham; she was the daughter of Frances Hanson, née Raymond, and Henry Hanson, a groom.

At this time, Tissot’s Dutch friend, Lourens Tadema (later Lawrence Alma-Tadema) was much decorated.  Living in Brussels, he had earned a gold medal at Paris in 1864 and a second-class medal at the International Exhibition at Paris in 1867; he was made a member of the Academy of Fine Arts at Amsterdam in 1862, a Knight of the Order of Leopold (Belgium) in 1866, a Knight of the Dutch Lion in 1868, and he was made a Knight First Class of the Order of St. Michael of Bavaria in 1869.

His art dealer, the influential Ernest Gambart who maintained his Continental office in Brussels, kept him close.  In 1869, Gambart decided to enter two of Tadema’s best paintings — A Roman art lover: (Silver statue) (No 108, 1868) and The pyrrhic dance (No 111, 1869)  — into the exhibition of the Royal Academy, now relocated from the National Gallery to Burlington House in Piccadilly.  They were entered under the category of foreign works, and they immediately drew the ire of prominent art critic John Ruskin (whose marriage to Effie Millais was annulled in 1854).  Ruskin, now 50, described The pyrrhic dance as:

“the most dastardly of all these representations of classic life, was the little picture called the Pyrrhic Dance, of which the general effect was exactly like a microscopic view of a small detachment of black-beetles in search of a dead rat.”

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The pyrrhic dance (No 111, 1869), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.  (Photo:  Wiki)

On May 28, 1869, Tadema’s wife of six years died of smallpox at the age of 32.  Marie-Pauline Gressin Dumoulin was the daughter of a French journalist, and it was on their honeymoon in Italy in 1863 – his first visit there — that he had been inspired to paint the life of ancient Rome.  He had painted her only a few times, as in My Studio (1867), and after her death, he never spoke of her again.  She left him with two young children – daughters, Anna (age two) and Laurense (age five).  His son had died of smallpox just four years earlier, in 1865.  Grief-stricken, Tadema’s health began to suffer, and he did not paint again until that autumn.  Tadema’s unmarried sister, Artje, had lived with him and Pauline; now she helped with the children and kept house for her brother at 29 Rue de la Limite.

My Studio (1867) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Courtesy of www.alma-tadema.org

My Studio (1867) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Courtesy http://www.alma-tadema.org

When Tadema’s doctors were unable to diagnose his medical problems, Gambart  advised him to consult with English physician Sir Henry Thompson (1820 – 1904).  Thompson,* who had been knighted two years ago, was a surgeon and professor at University College Hospital.  Six years earlier, he had performed a successful operation on the King of Belgium, who suffered from kidney stones.  In London, on December 26, Tadema attended a dance at the home of painter Ford Madox Brown (1821 — 1893) – and met Laura Theresa Epps (1852 — 1909).  The daughter of a doctor, Laura was a seventeen-year-old redhead — tall, slim, elegant, educated, musical, and interested in art — and the 33-year old Lourens Tadema fell in love with her.

Portrait of Miss Laura Theresa Epps (Lady Alma-Tadema), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.  Courtesy www.alma-tadema.org

Portrait of Miss Laura Theresa Epps (Lady Alma-Tadema), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Courtesy http://www.alma-tadema.org

Tadema did complete a number of paintings in 1869, including The convalescent (No 113, 1869), the first he completed after his wife’s death.  Others included A Wine Shop, Confidences, A Greek Woman, The Crossing of the River Berizina, and An Exedra.

English: Lawrence Alma-Tadema's art

Confidences (1869) Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Photo: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile, James Tissot had been enjoying his enormous success in Paris for only about five years, and his villa only since early 1868.  He was 33, and 1869 would be his final full year to enjoy the elegant, carefree life he had made for himself in the French capital. His lucrative new sideline – contributing full-color political cartoons to London’s ground-breaking Society magazine, Vanity Fair – would open a new market for his work and would be, perhaps, the best bit of luck ever to happen to James Tissot.

 

Sir Henry Thompson * also was an artist who exhibited his paintings at the Royal Academy and the Salon in Paris.

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

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

Exhibition note:

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848-1900

February 17–May 19, 2013 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The first major survey of the art of the Pre-Raphaelites to be shown in the United States features some 130 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative art objects.

For more information, visit http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/preraphaelites.shtm

 

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.

James Tissot’s brilliant marketing tool, 1869

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

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

Young Women Looking at Japanese Objects

Jeunes femmes regardant des objects japonais, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 24 by 19 in. (60.96 by 48.26 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miss Davidson, by Millais 1865

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

Émile Zola

Émile Zola, by Manet (Photo: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

 

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

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

Related posts:

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

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

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

CH377762NOTE:  If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

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

Sleeping, by J.E. Millais (www.wikipaintings.org)

In London, the renowned John Everett Millais exhibited four paintings at the 1867 Royal Academy: Sleeping, Waking, and The Minuet (modeled respectively by his daughters, Carrie, Mary and Effie), as well as Jephthah and Master Cayley (a portrait of young Hugh Cayley of Wydale).

Waking, by Millais

Waking

Waking and Sleeping each fetched 1,000 guineas, but while these commissioned paintings of adorable children were lucrative, they were risky in their own way: his daughter Mary, left alone for a few minutes while modeling for Waking, grabbed a paint brush and slathered brown strokes across the bottom of her father’s canvas, telling him that she was helping him paint the floor. (Millais repaired the damage without chastising Mary.) The British art critic Tom Taylor called Sleeping* “the most beautiful picture the artist has ever painted,” and one of the chief works of art of British painting.

 

Millais, now 38, had seven children, and fortunately, Effie’s parents were willing to watch them while they entertained friends and international celebrities. He was not much for foreign travel, but he made the trip to Paris for the World’s Fair, where his The Eve of St. Agnes (1863), illustrating the popular Keats poem, was on exhibit. When this painting first was exhibited in London in 1863, one prominent gentleman sniffed, “I cannot bear that woman with the gridiron,” and even Millais’ friend Tom Taylor, cried, “Where on earth did you get that scraggy model, Millais?” (It was Effie, who had posed in an unheated Jacobean mansion in Kent for three December nights in a row.)  But at the 1867 Paris Exposition and after, The Eve of St. Agnes was revered.  [This painting is now in The Royal Collection, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.]

Madeleine undressing, painting by John Everett...

The Eve of St. Agnes (1863), by John Everett Millais (Photo: Wikipedia)

Still living in Brussels, Tissot’s Dutch friend Lourens Tadema (later Lawrence Alma-Tadema) exhibited two oils at Ernest Gambart’s 14th Annual Exhibition of French and Flemish Schools which opened in London in April. One of the paintings, Tibullus at Delia’s (No. 77) fared well; the other, The honeymoon (reign of Augustus)(No. 83) did not. Gambart entered thirteen of Tadema’s pictures in the Paris International Exposition – from those that had been hanging, unsold, in Gambart’s London mansion. Tadema’s Pastimes in Ancient Egypt 3,000 years ago (No. 56, 1863), which had been awarded the gold medal in the Salon of 1864, won a second class medal at the Exposition.  Tadema had completed the 34 paintings that Gambart had commissioned from him in 1864; Gambart now commissioned another 48 at higher prices.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Tibullus at Delia's

Tibullus at Delia’s, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Photo: Wikipedia)

At the Paris Exposition, James Tissot made the most of the opportunity for his work to be seen internationally and wrote to the Marquis de Miramon with the request – which was granted – of the loan of his wife’s elegant portrait for the occasion.  He also showed a slightly larger version of The Confidence on exhibit at the Salon.

de fontenay, by Tissot


Portrait of Eugène Coppens de Fontenay (1867), by James Tissot.  27 by 15 in. (68.58 by 38.10cm.) Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Courtesy of the-athenaeum.

Tissot was busy with commissions for portraits of aristocrats, including the president of Paris’ exclusive Jockey Club, Eugène Coppens de Fontenay. Tissot continued to paint elegant, uncontroversial images of contemporary life: The Wardrobe, The Races at Longchamp, The Terrace of the Jeu de Paume, and Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens.

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

In addition to Millais, another role model of artistic success strongly influenced Tissot’s work after this year. At the International Exposition, the Belgian artist Alfred Stevens (1823 – 1906) exhibited 18 paintings and won a gold medal. Stevens, who attended Princess Mathilde’s receptions and often received loans of her gowns for his pictures, was long established as an award-winning painter in the Paris art world and hosted frequent parties of his own. He was friends with Tissot as well as Whistler, Degas, Manet, and others who now met at the Café Guerbois.  His polished paintings of beautiful women wearing modern fashions in elegant interiors, like The Lady in Pink (1867), would provide a new source of inspiration for Tissot.

English: The Lady in Pink Français : La Dame e...

La Dame en rose/The Lady in Pink, by Alfred Stevens (Photo: Wikipedia)

Sleeping eventually was owned by the model, Millais’ third daughter, Carrie – later Lady Stuart of Wortley (1862-1936), who became an accomplished pianist and second wife of the conservative MP for Sheffield.  The painting was sold by her descendants in 1969. Thirty years later, on June 10, 1999, an American collector bought it for a record £2,091,500 ($3,477,746) at Christie’s, but it was sold to meet debts and in 2003 brought only £1.2 million from a British art agent at Christie’s auction of “Important British and Irish Art.”

© 2012 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

CH377762

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.

Click here to download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones and tablets from amazon.com.

Free on November 15, 2012!

Thank you for visiting my blog, now chronicling the early years of French painter James Tissot (1836-1902) and his friends Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Édouard Manet (1832-1883), James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and Lourens Tadema (later Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912).

CH377762

My new release, The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, illustrated with 17 full-color, high-resolution fine art images courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library, is free on November 15, 2012 at http://amzn.to/RBCZiu.  Click here to download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones and tablets from amazon.com.  For links in the U.K., Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan, click my blog’s tab “Order Now.”  You will find a review at the bottom of this post.

Please consider reading The Hammock over the holidays — and leave your review at my page on amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE, or at http://www.goodreads.com/.

So far, my blog has had visitors from 36 nations including the U.S., Canada, U.K., Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, France, Romania, Ukraine, Italy, Greece, Poland, Spain, India, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Thailand, Australia, Chile, Malaysia, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Iceland, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Hungary, Israel, Malta, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, New Zealand, Argentina, Hong Kong and Norway!

Please leave a comment to let me know what you find most enjoyable, and tell me a bit about yourself.  Are you an art lover, researcher, or student?  Where do you live?  Are you reading my blog in English, or translating it?  Who are your favorite artists, and which paintings do you particularly like?

I invite you to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot – and to share your review!

Lucy Paquette

P.S.  As of the end of the day on November 15, 2012, readers downloaded 285 free copies of my novel!  Thank you!  Enjoy it.

© 2012 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

A Bunch of Lilacs (c. 1875), 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,” by Lucy Paquette, © 2012

Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars When Artistic Skill and Societal Morals Collide November 1, 2012

By Linda L. McBride

As learning a new language opens doors to a new culture, this novel provides the reader with a very personal understanding of the lives, the motivations, the drive, the passion, and the constraints of some of the most talented artists of their time. This book is not about art history; rather, it brings these artists vibrantly to life in a compelling and entertaining story. Ms. Paquette’s thorough research, attention to detail, and skillful writing colorfully illustrate the story of French painter James Tissot, a man so talented his paintings fairly leap off the canvas but whose inner demons and drive to succeed fatally collide with societal norms. The book is graced by the addition of beautiful reproductions of paintings that have been woven into the story so that the reader can feel a close connection to each piece of fine art almost as if he or she was in on the secret behind each one. One need not be a student of art to find this book enjoyable. It is, quite simply, a great story backed by well-researched facts. Kudos to Ms. Paquette on a fine inaugural book.

The competition: Tissot’s friends Whistler, Degas, Manet, Courbet, Alma-Tadema & Millais in 1866

While Tissot had found his artistic entrée to the Paris aristocracy by 1865, what were his friends doing?

In February, 1866, Manet was introduced to the young writer Émile Zola (1840 – 1902), who passionately and publicly defended Manet in the liberal newspaper L’Événement when Manet’s The Fifer and The Tragic Actor were rejected by the Salon jury in 1866.  Zola encouraged collectors to invest now in Manet’s work, predicting, “The future is his.  A place is marked for Manet in the Louvre.”  Rather than make converts, Zola made enemies of his own, and resigned.

Edouard Manet: Young Flautist, or The Fifer, 1866

Edouard Manet: Young Flautist, or The Fifer, 1866 (Photo: Wikipedia)

Degas’ Salon entry in 1866 differed from his début with a medieval subject the previous year.  He showed Steeplechase — The Fallen Jockey, another image from Longchamp, the thoroughbred race course in the fashionable Bois de Boulogne.  This was a painting of modern life that no one could miss – it was painted on a canvas of more than seven feet by five feet.  Still, Degas’ epic scene received very little critical notice.

By early 1866, Whistler was frustrated with his work, writing to a friend, “It’s always the same thing, always work that’s so painful and uncertain!  I am so slow — I produce very little, because I rub everything out.”  This friend wrote about Whistler to a mutual friend, “I have a feeling that our happy days are over.  He believes too much in making a stir, and not enough in quality, which is the only way to success.”  Restless and perhaps craving action and adventure – or fleeing creditors — Whistler sailed for Valparaiso, Chile and stayed for seven months, embroiling himself (not heroically) in the political crisis between Spanish imperialists and the Chilean government.  While there, he painted five pictures of the harbor, including Nocturne in Blue and Gold:  Valparaiso.  His first biographers, Elizabeth and Joseph Pennell, wrote that Whistler gave his paintings to the ship’s purser to bring home:

The purser kept them.  Once they were seen in his house in London by someone who recognized Whistler’s work.

Why, they must be by Whistler!’ he said.

‘Who’s Whistler?’ asked the purser.

‘An artist,’ said the other.

‘Oh, no,’ said the purser.  ‘They were painted by a gentleman.’

Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay (186...

Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay (1866) by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (Photo: Wikipedia)

Though a dandy, the pugnacious Whistler’s conflicts were not merely artistic:  he had started a brawl on board the ship home, and then received a beating – from no one knows whom — upon his arrival back in London.  At some point before or after this, he took boxing lessons from a professional pugilist in London.

While Whistler was away from London, he gave power of attorney to his flame-haired mistress Joanna Hiffernan so she could look after his finances and sell his paintings.  Jo had spent the previous summer with him and Courbet in Trouville, France.  In those leisurely months, they had enjoyed seafood, casinos and dips in the ocean with Claude Monet and others.  Jo clowned around to cheer Whistler up and sang Irish songs in the evenings.  She had modeled for Courbet several times; he painted her as La Belle Irlandaise (The Beautiful Irishwoman).  Now she went to Paris, posing for Courbet’s erotic painting Sleep (for the Turkish ambassador who had missed the opportunity, the previous year, to buy Venus jealously pursuing Psyche), and likely had an affair with him.  Whistler broke off with her some time after his return from South America.

Courbet’s Woman with a Parrot was not only accepted by the Salon jury in 1866, but it was a tremendous success with the public – and with the Comte de Nieuwerkerke, who insisted it be displayed prominently.  Nieuwerkerke offered to purchase Courbet’s other Salon painting, Covert of Roe Deer, for the Empress Eugénie’s private collection, but it already had sold.  Nieuwerkerke then paid 2,000 francs for one of the many versions of Courbet’s Puits Noir (this one was also known as Shaded Stream) for the Empress’ collection.  Courbet, at 47, suddenly was flooded with commissions, and even with compliments from prominent Academicians, to whom he referred in a letter to a friend as “that bunch of scoundrels.”  He wrote in 1866, “The success I am having in Paris at the moment is unbelievable.  In the end, I am the one and only.”

Gustave Courbet - Woman with a Parrot - WGA5504

Woman with a Parrot, Gustave Courbet

Tissot’s Dutch friend, Lourens Tadema (later Lawrence Alma-Tadema), had moved from Antwerp to Brussels, where his paintings won him acclaim and honors.  His highly detailed and scholarly pictures now showed the influence of the archaeological excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum that he had seen on his honeymoon in 1863.  In mid-May, 1866, Tadema and his wife, Pauline, traveled to London for a fancy-dress ball given at the St. John’s Wood home of his dealer, Ernest Gambart.  For the occasion, Tadema had painted In the Peristylum (No. 75, 1866).  Gambart had purchased fourteen of Tadema’s paintings to date, but he had not sold them:  Tadema found thirteen of them hanging on Gambart’s own walls.  Gambart actually was selling some of Tadema’s early work to a client in America, and he reassured the artist that his work would sell in Britain soon.  Two of Tadema’s pictures, Returning home from market (No. 70, 1865) and Entrance to a Roman theatre (No. 74, 1866), were on view through Gambart in London and earning praise.  In the autumn of 1866, Tadema’s Preparations for the festivities (No. 72) won a major award in Brussels.

Millais did not exhibit at London’s Royal Academy in 1866.  Distinguished art dealers William Agnew and Ernest Gambart hounded him to meet the constant demand for water-color and oil replicas of his most popular paintings [such as Ophelia (1852), The Huguenot (1852), Sir Isumbras at the Ford (1857), The Vale of Rest (1858) and The Black Brunswicker (1860)].  He spent the fall shooting grouse and stags among friends in Scotland.  He met his responsibilities as a successful artist and grasped the business side of his profession — and he reaped the rewards.

The Vale of Rest

The Vale of Rest, J.E. Millais

Certainly of all Tissot’s artist friends, Millais must have seemed the one with a career worth emulating.

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2012.  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.

Ready and waiting: Tissot’s entrée, 1865

English: Dimensions and material of painting: ...

Apple Blossoms (Spring), 1859, J.E. Millais, oil on canvas, 43.5 by 68 in (Photo: Wikipedia)

The American Civil War had ended and President Lincoln had been assassinated by the opening of the Salon of 1865, but life was placid enough for James Tissot.  He exhibited The Attempted Abduction* and Spring.  The first painting, a scene of a duel over a woman, was another of Tissot’s medieval pictures, and the critics were disappointed in him.  The second picture, however, received some praise because of its similarities to Millais’ Apple Blossoms (Spring), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1859.

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

Esther (1865) Private Collection

Esther (1865), J.E. Millais, Private Collection (Photo: Wikipedia)

Millais, at the Royal Academy in 1865, exhibited an oil painting based on a Tennyson subject, Swallow! Swallow! Flying South.  It was bought by the distinguished London art dealer William Agnew (1825 – 1910), who helped foster the market for British contemporary art.  Millais also exhibited The Enemy Sowing Tares, Esther, The Romans Leaving Britain, and Joan of Arc.  Millais, newly a member of the Royal Academy, found that success breeds success, and his pictures were snapped up by well-heeled buyers.  In addition that year, he painted portraits including the son of his friend, Tom Taylor.

Tom Taylor (1817 – 1880) was the editor of Punch magazine, a professional art critic and a popular playwright.  Among his other works, he wrote Our American Cousin – the farce that U.S. President Lincoln was seeing at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.  In 1865, Tom Taylor’s Ballads and Songs of Brittany was published by Macmillan & Co.  It was illustrated by several artists including Millais and Tissot, who provided the Frontispiece and further widened his reputation in Great Britain.

English: Egyptian chess players

Egyptian chess players, Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Photo: Wikipedia)

Tissot’s Dutch friend, Lourens Tadema (later Lawrence Alma-Tadema), living in Antwerp, had career-changing luck the previous summer when he was discovered by the influential art dealer Ernest Gambart (1814 – 1902).  Gambart, who had a gallery at Trafalgar Square as well as in Brussels, was impressed by Tadema’s work-in-progress Egyptian chess players (No 60, completed 1865) and commissioned twenty-four pictures.  He then ensured that three of Tadema’s paintings were exhibited in London in April, 1865.  Pastimes in Ancient Egypt (18th Dynasty) (No 56, 1863)Egyptian chess players (No 60, 1865) and Birthday presents in the 16th century (No 61, 1865) were included in Gambart’s 12th Annual French and Flemish Exhibition at the French Gallery, Pall Mall, but the 29-year-old Tadema’s début in England received little notice.

Allegorical painting representing suffering of...

Scene of War in the Middle Ages, Edgar Degas.  (Photo: Wikipedia)

In Paris, Degas made an unremarkable Salon début in 1865 with a history picture, Scene of War in the Middle Ages (called Misfortunes of the City of Orléans after his death).

But his attention had drifted to learning the art of wax sculpture from his friend, Louis-Alfred-Joseph Cuvelier, an innovative, aspiring young equestrian sculptor who cast his work in bronze.

By Degas. (Photo by Cynthia, Flickr)

Obsessed with capturing motion, Degas experimented with frameworks of twisted wire on a wooden plank, using wine corks as filler for the horse’s head and body.

Degas modeled his sculptures in colored beeswax, did not cast his work in bronze, and never publicly exhibited his wax sculptures.

At the Salon, Whistler exhibited The Princess from the Land of Porcelain (La Princesse du pays de la porcelain), in which he had painted Christina Spartali on a 6.5’ by 4’ canvas, tall and sway-backed as if she were a design on a multi-colored Japanese vase.  The picture provoked a negative response from the critics as well as Christina’s father, the Greek consul in London who commissioned it as a portrait of his daughter but then refused to buy it.

Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl

Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl, James McNeill Whistler (Photo: Wikipedia)

At the Royal Academy Exhibition in London, Whistler exhibited The Little White Girl, showing his Irish mistress and model, Joanna Hiffernan, in a simple white gown.  Hung near Millais’ Esther, it did not fare well by contrast; one critic wrote that Whistler made “the most bizarre of bipeds” of all his models.  His other pictures there, The Golden Screen and Old Battersea Bridge, received praise for their “subtle beauty of color” and “almost mystical delicacy of tone.”  But one critic dismissed Whistler as “half a great artist” and another sniffed that he “lives in intimate communion with fantasy.”

Whistler and Jo joined Courbet, in the late summer and fall of 1865, in Trouville, a fishing village on the Normandy coast which had become a fashionable resort.  Courbet had exhibited two scandal-free paintings in the Salon of 1865: a landscape and a portrait, which nevertheless were disliked by the critics.  The landscape, The Black Stream, was purchased by the Comte de Nieuwerkerke for the collection of Napolean III.  Courbet spent three months in Trouville – painting portraits of rich vacationers such as Countess Károlyi, the wife of a Hungarian diplomat.  Along with Whistler and the cocky twenty-four-year old artist, Claude Monet (1840 – 1926), Courbet also painted outdoors, capturing the changing light, color and atmosphere with his series of seascapes.

Olympia (1863), Edouard Manet, Musée d'Orsay

Olympia (1863), Edouard Manet, Musée d’Orsay (Photo: Wikipedia)

No such peace – or acclaim despite public animosity – was to be had for Édouard Manet.  At the Salon in 1865, he showed Jesus Mocked by the Soldiers, which offended many by its unidealized figure of Christ, and Olympia, a painting which required guards to protect it from the hostility of the crowds.  One critic observed that “Art sunk so low doesn’t even deserve reproach.”  Manet was openly mocked in the streets, despised personally for both these pictures.  A celebrated painting master at l’École des Beaux-Arts forbade his students to mention Manet’s name.  Devastated, saying, “I’ve never been through anything like it,” Manet left for Spain in August.  His great friend, the poet, writer and art critic Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867), wrote to Manet, “It’s really stupid that you should get so worked up.  You’re laughed at, your merits are not appreciated.  So what?  Do you think you’re the first man to be in that position?”

Tissot, in contrast to his friends Degas, Whistler and Manet, had found acceptance in a circle beyond the Salon, the critics, or intellectual rebels:  he had found an entrée to the French aristocracy and was commissioned to paint The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their children [René de Cassagne de Beaufort, Marquis de Miramon (1835-1882), his wife, née Thérèse Feuillant (1836-1912), and their first two children, Geneviève and Léon on the terrace of the château de Paulhac in Auvergne].  Tissot depicted them outdoors, as an informal, affectionate family in the English-style elegance of a Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788) or a Joshua Reynolds portrait (1723 – 1792).  This painting served as Tissot’s calling card to the lucrative market for Society portraiture.

The Marquis and the Marquise de Miramon and their children, by James Tissot (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

His self-portrait of 1865 shows him, at 29, ready for, though perhaps wary of, the spectacular success to come.

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

* Tissot’s The Attempted Abduction (1865, oil on canvas, 26.7 by 38 in.) was sold at auction by Sotheby’s on May 4, 2012 for $134,500.

© 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.