Tag Archives: Laura Epps

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

Kathleen Newton In An Armchair

Kathleen Newton in an Armchair (1878), by James Tissot   (Photo: Wikipedia)

James Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Kelly Newton, died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882 and was buried in plot 2903A (register no. 043971) in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, North West London (west of Regent’s Park).  [See James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death.]  After her funeral on November 14, Tissot returned to Paris after eleven years in England.


Lawrence Alma-Tadema.  (Photo:  Wikiart.org)

Tissot had been friends with Dutch-born painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912) since 1859, when they met as students in Antwerp.  Reunited in London, where Alma-Tadema now lived on the north side of the Regent’s Park with his young wife, Laura Epps (1852 – 1909),  the two painters had a falling out in the mid-1870s.  Through an agent, Alma-Tadema purchased James Tissot’s house at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road in St. John’s Wood by 1883, but he could not move in until he sold his home, Townshend House.  After a two-year wait, Lawrence Alma-Tadema moved into Tissot’s former home on July 17, 1885, and began extensive remodeling.  He enlarged and modified Tissot’s Queen Anne villa into an Italianate mansion appropriate for his popular (and expensive) paintings of ancient Rome.  Alma-Tadema enhanced the garden and colonnaded pool that Tissot had built with huge classical urns and fountains splashing water over exotic fish.  He built a Dutch-style studio for Laura, who also painted, and a three-story studio for himself, capped with a semi-circular dome covered in aluminum, which gave a silvery tone to his paintings.

In My Studio (1893), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.  (Photo:  Wikipaintings)

Alma-Tadema painted and renovated his new home while his wife and two daughters lived in Windsor, in the home of a friend who was travelling abroad.  His décor included a Japanese room, a Chinese room, and an Arabic room.

In 1886, he spent so much of his time supervising work on the house that he only completed three paintings.  His grand home was written up by journalists, who were impressed by his copper-covered entrance, Mexican onyx windows, and a brass stairway (taken for gold by some visitors) leading to his studio.  The Pall Mall Gazette called his home “The Palace of the Beautiful.”

His family finally moved in on November 17, 1886, and Alma-Tadema and his wife hosted Monday afternoon open houses and  lavish Tuesday evening dinners and concerts for friends such as the Prince and Princess of Wales, the composer Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893), French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917), novelist Henry James (1843 – 1916), French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844 – 1923), internationally-acclaimed portrait painter John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925), Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Paderewski (1860 –1941), Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873 – 1921) and Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965).

James Tissot owned the house at Grove End Road only from 1873 to 1882, while Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, a Royal Academician, owned it for nearly thirty years, from 1883 until 1912.  The house was converted to apartments in the 1920s and fell into disrepair.  During World War II, it was occupied by the Army, then bombed and damaged by fire.  Tissot’s cast iron colonnade was torn down in 1947 and replaced with garages.  The house was later converted into eleven flats, again fell into disrepair, and was listed on English Heritage’s “at risk” register.  The Savage family bought it in the mid-1950s and restored it to a single dwelling in 2003 – with an investment of £5 million GBP.

Photo: Flickr

A Grade II listed building since 1987, 44, Grove End Road went on the market in 2006 for £17 million GBP, the same price paid somewhat earlier for a vacant half-acre of land on nearby Avenue Road.

[Grade II listed buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest; a listed building may not be demolished, extended, or altered without special permission from the local planning authority.]

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema - Blue Plaque - Londo...

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – Blue Plaque – London, England (Photo credit: rchappo2002)

When the house went up for sale, The Sunday Times [London] reported:

“It is spread over four floors, relatively few for a property of this size, and the ground and first floors are a sprawling 5,000 square feet per floor.  There are seven bedroom suites (with space for en-suite bathrooms and dressing rooms); a three storey-high artist’s studio with enormous windows; five large reception rooms (the main one leading to a conservatory); billiard room; security room; staff living quarters; a kitchen; countless storage rooms and a lift.  All the main reception rooms are on the ground floor.  All up, it’s 16,000 square feet and, with the garden, measures 0.6 of an acre.”

44, Grove End Road, London on August 1, 2008. (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

Preparing for the gala, the-athenaeum

Preparing for the gala (c. 1874), by James Tissot.  Courtesy of the-athenaeum.

Though bathrooms and a kitchen were needed, at an estimated cost of £3 to 4 million GBP, a buyer was found.  44, Grove End Road is now the address of a charitable organization, established in 2006, that works in the U.K. and the Arab world, particularly in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

Coincidental to the 2006 sale of James Tissot’s former home was the 2006 sale of Preparing for the gala (c. 1874), painted in Tissot’s garden in St. John’s Wood.

Preparing for the gala, which was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1996 for $1,650,000/ £ 1,090,188, was sold at Christie’s, London in 2006 for $ 2,763,150/£ 1,500,000.


Related posts:  

Tissot in the Conservatory

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

A visit to James Tissot’s house & Kathleen Newton’s grave

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2013.  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. 


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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

(295 pages; ISBN (ePub):  978-0-615-68267-9).

See http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

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



Courage & Cowardice: The Impressionists at War, 1870 (Part 1 of 2)

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.

By September, 1870, Channel boats were lined up to ferry people to safety in England.

English: , Dutch-British painter

Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lawrence Alma-Tadema, who had been working in Paris over the summer but who lived in Brussels, boarded a Channel boat at the beginning of September 1870* with his two small daughters and his sister Artje.  In London, he rented a house and studio at 4 Camden Square that belonged to British artist Frederick Goodall (Goodall, who like Alma-Tadema was one of the dealer Ernest Gambart’s artists, was travelling in Egypt).  Alma-Tadema immediately arranged to give painting lessons to Laura Epps, now 18, whom he had met and fallen in love with on a trip to London in December 1869.  Laura, a doctor’s daughter with two sisters who also studied painting, modeled for In the temple (No 132, 1871).  The thirty-four-year-old Alma-Tadema proposed marriage, and though her father at first was opposed, he finally agreed as long as they would wait and get to know each other better first.

Portrait of the painter Claude Monet

Portrait of the painter Claude Monet, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the news of Napoleon’s surrender on September 2, 29-year-old socialist Claude Monet left for London to avoid the war – without his former model and new wife, Camille, and their infant son, Jean, both of whom joined him later.  They first lived at 11, Arundel Street, near Piccadilly Circus and then moved to 1, Bath Place, Kensington.

Paul Cézanne, 31, also dodged the draft.  He took his twenty-year-old model and mistress, Hortense Fiquet – whom he had met the previous year — nearly twenty miles north of Marseilles to Aix-en-Provence, where he had been raised.  When the authorities came after him, he and Hortense fled to L’Estaque, a remote fishing village closer to Marseilles.

Camille Pissarro, now 40, was a socialist willing to fight for his ideals but unwilling to fight for Napoleon III.  In September, he fled from Louveciennes (west of Paris) with his pregnant mistress, Julie Vellay, a vineyard grower’s daughter and his mother’s maid, and his two children, Jeanne (called Minette, age 5) and Lucien (age 7).  They took refuge at a friend’s farm in Brittany.  The baby died at birth on November 5, and Pissarro wanted his family to be safe.  Since he was born on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, which was owned by Denmark, he was legally Danish.  He had lived in Paris only since 1855.  He wrote to his mother in London, and she replied, “You are not French.  Don’t do anything rash.”  By Christmas, 1870, Pissarro took his family to England, where they joined his mother and family living south of London in Upper Norwood.

www.camille-pissarro.org, Self-Portrait,-1873

Camille Pissarro, Self-Portrait (www.camille-pissarro.org)

Renoir by Bazille

Renoir by Bazille, 1867 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 29, was offered a staff post with the 10th Chasseurs, a light cavalry unit, in October.  Born to a working-class family, Renoir became an accomplished cavalryman, an opportunity usually open only to the sons of aristocrats.  Renoir also gave painting lessons to the daughter of the captain.  He was a pacifist, and he was terrified of gunfire, but as it happened, he did not see any action.  He first was sent to Bordeaux in southwestern France, then to nearby Libourne, where he became so ill with dysentery that he nearly died.  He ended up convalescing with an uncle in Bordeaux and later at his parents’ house in Louveciennes.

Bazille, Frédéric - Self Portrait

Frédéric Bazille – Self Portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frédéric Bazille joined the Third Regiment of the Zouaves, a light infantry regiment, in mid-August 1870.  By October, Bazille was in a village near Besançon in eastern France, and not having seen a single Prussian soldier yet, he was frustrated.  But on November 28, in the minor Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande near Orléans (about 80 miles southwest of Paris), when Bazille’s officer was injured, Bazille took command.  He led an assault on the Prussians – an unsuccessful one – and Bazille was struck twice during the retreat.  He died on the battlefield at age 28.  His father claimed his body from the snow and buried Bazille at Montpelier the following week.  Some of Bazille’s friends, such as Édouard Manet, did not learn of his death until February, 1871.

Alfred Sisley, a 31-year-old painter in Édouard Manet’s circle, lived near the avenue de Clichy in Paris, and his wealthy and cultivated parents lived in Bougival, west of Paris.  Sisley’s parents were English, but he was born in France and brought up in the capital.  He retained British citizenship though he had never mastered the English language.  Sisley lost everything he owned, and most of his paintings were looted or destroyed, when Prussian troops ransacked the family’s estate along with the town of Bougival.  By 1870, Sisley had been involved with Marie Louise Adélaïde Eugénie Lescouezec a 36-year-old artist’s model and florist from Brittany, for four years.  Sisley and she now had a three-year old son, Pierre, and an infant daughter, Jeanne.  Sisley traveled to London, where – like Monet and Pissarro — he met the art dealer Durand-Ruel and became one of his stable of artists.

Portrait of Alfred Sisley, painted by Pierre-A...

Portrait of Alfred Sisley, painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1868 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul Durand-Ruel, 39, also had fled Paris — with a hoard of paintings, many entrusted to him for safekeeping by various artists.  On December 10, 1870, he opened his first Annual Exhibition of the Society of French Artists at his new gallery at 168 New Bond Street.  Though there was no opportunity to exhibit or sell paintings in France during the war, the British would see the newest art from Paris.  It was mostly ignored – until British artists, trying to earn a living selling to the same pool of patrons, eventually became threatened by this different kind of siege.


Lawrence Alma-Tadema*, in my book, The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot © 2012, remains in Paris through Christmas, 1870 so that I can introduce him in the second chapter.

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

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.

Exhibition Notes:

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

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

 For more information, visit


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

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 at http://bitly.com/SNCvYu to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

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 deerstalking 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 credit: Wikipedia)

Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet

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

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.  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 1869 Royal Academy Exhibition, 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.”

A Pyrrhic Dance Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema - 186...

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 credit: 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.

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

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.