Tag Archives: Lawrence Alma-Tadema

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.

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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Tissot’s Tiger Skin: A Prominent Prop

Since today is April Fool’s Day – and my birthday – let’s have a lighthearted look at a prop that James Tissot often used, a tiger skin.  

In 1877, Tissot draped a tiger skin over a wide upholstered armchair to underscore the masculinity and dynamism of his sometime art dealer, Algernon Moses Marsden (1847 – 1920).  [Marsden actually deserved to be portrayed with a rat skin, as he was a gambler, bankrupt and rogue who foisted his debts on his father and abandoned his wife and ten children.  See Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?]

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Algernon Moses Marsden (1877), by James Tissot.  Private collection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other Victorian artists, notably Tissot’s friend Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912) as well as Alma-Tadema’s protégé John William Godward (1861 – 1922), featured tiger skins as an exotic element in sensual paintings of lovely women.

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Cherries (1873), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Private Collection. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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The Priestess of Bacchus (1885-89), by John Maler Collier (1850-1934). (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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The Sweet Siesta of a Summer Day (1891), by John William Godward. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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Dolce Far Niente (1897), by John William Godward. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

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Eighty and Eighteen (1898), by John William Godward. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

James Tissot, so technically skilled and refined, almost never presented open sensuality in his work, especially during the years he painted in England (1871–1882).  He used the tiger skin in his paintings for textural complexity and to illustrate the lushness of the Victorian leisured life.  After Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854–1882), moved into his home, he added a leopard skin rug to his prop collection.

In Hide and Seek (c. 1877), Tissot featured both the leopard skin and the tiger skin, among many textures including the Oriental porcelain, the two mirrors, the leather-armed chaise, the polished wooden occasional table, and the round enameled table in the foreground.

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

In Reading a Story (c. 1878-79), the leopard skin is tossed over a bench in Tissot’s garden:

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Reading a Story (c. 1878-79), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Image: Wikiart.org)

In 1880, it lines Mrs. Newton’s chair in A Type of Beauty.

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A Type of Beauty (Portrait of Kathleen Newton, 1880), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Image: Wikipedia.org).

The leopard skin is draped neatly over the garden bench in pictures from 1881 to 1882:

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Quiet (c. 1881), by James Tissot. Private Collection. (Image: Wikiart.org)

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

Tissot also shows the leopard skin used as the family picnic rug, c. 1881.

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In Full Sunlight (En plein soleil, c. 1881), by James Tissot.  Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Open Access.

How prim Tissot, the Frenchman, seems compared to the Dutch-born Alma-Tadema!

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The Tepidarium (1881), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

By 1882, enjoying his domestic life with Kathleen Newton and her two children, Tissot’s tiger skin is emblematic of the exuberance of their days – which would end with Kathleen’s death of tuberculosis in November.

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Le Petit Nemrod (A Little Nimrod), c. 1882, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 ½ by 55 3/5 in. (110.5 by 141.3 cm). Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’archéologie, Besançon, France. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

But while James Tissot did not use his tiger skin in erotic images, he did use it to create one with an improving moral message.

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Triumph of Will: The Challenge (1877), by James Tissot. (Image: Wikiart.org)

Even in La femme préhistorique (The Prehistoric Woman), Tissot shuns the opportunity to paint an erotic semi-nude primitive; he veers off with his own idiosyncratic approach.

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La femme prehistorique, by James Tissot. (Image: Wikimedia.org)

But, then, at least Tissot never inflicted this type of image upon posterity:

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Autumn Flowers, by Jehan Georges Vibert (1840 – 1902). (Image: Wikiart.org)

Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me, and please enjoy other posts on my blog as well as my novel about James Tissot, The Hammock!

Previous April Fool’s Day posts:

The Missing Tissot Nudes

Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?

Tissot and his Friends Clown Around

Happy Hour with James Tissot

©  2017 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.

The Stars of Victorian Painting: Auction Prices

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

What is the current value of paintings by the most popular artists of the mid- to late Victorian era?  Can you guess whose work brings the top price to date?  Where do James Tissot and your favorite artist rank?  Here is a list of the twenty-three most valuable pictures sold in the past twenty-one years, from bottom up:

 

23.  John William Waterhouse (1849 – 1917), Ophelia (1894)

Phillips, London (2000):  $ 2,253,300/£ 1,500,000

Ophelia (1894), by John William Waterhouse. Oil on canvas, 49 by 29 in. (124.46 by 73.66 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

 

22.  Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912), Roses of Heliogabalus (1888)

Christie’s, London (1993):  $ 2,288,250/£ 1,500,000

Roses of Heliogabalus (1888), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Oil on canvas, 52 by 84 in. (132.08 by 213.36 cm). (Photo Wikimedia.org)

 

21 (tie).  James Tissot (1836 – 1902), Mavourneen, Portrait of Kathleen Newton (1877)

Christie’s, New York (1995):  $ 2,300,000/£ 1,433,915

Mavourneen, Portrait of Kathleen Newton (1877), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 36 by 20 in. (91.44 by 50.80 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

 

21 (tie).  Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912).  Baths of Caracalia – Thermae Antoniniane (1899)

Sotheby’s, New York (1993):  $ 2,300,000/£ 1,488,191

Baths of Caracalia – Thermae Antoniniane (1899), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Oil on canvas, 60 by 37 in. (152.40 by 93.98 cm). (Photo: Wikiart.org)

 

20.  James Tissot (1836 – 1902), La cheminée (The Fireplace, c. 1869)

Christie’s, London (2003):  $ 2,334,780/£ 1,400,000

La cheminée, (c. 1869), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 20 by 13 in. (50.80 by 33.02 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

19.  James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903), Harmony in grey, Chelsea in ice (1864)

Christie’s, New York (2000):  $ 2,600,000/£ 1,768,106

 

18.  John William Waterhouse (1849 – 1917), Ophelia (1889)

Sotheby’s, London (2001):  $ 2,633,290/£ 1,850,000

Ophelia (1889), by John William Waterhouse. Oil on canvas, 39 by 62 in. (99.06 by 157.48 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

17.  James Tissot (1836 – 1902), L’Orpheline (Orphans, 1879)

Christie’s, New York (1993):  $ 2,700,000/£ 1,867,865

L’Orpheline (Orphans, 1879), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 85 by 43 in. (215.90 by 109.22 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

 

16.  James Tissot (1836 – 1902), Preparing for the gala (c. 1874-76)

Christie’s, London (2006):  $ 2,763,150/£ 1,500,000

 

15.  William Holman Hunt (1827 – 1910), The Shadow of Death (1873)

Sotheby’s, London (1994):  $ 2,778,650/£ 1,700,000

The Shadow of Death (1873), by William Holman Hunt. Oil on panel, 41 by 32 in. (104.14 by 81.28 cm). (Photo: wikipaintings.org)

 

14.  James Tissot (1836 – 1902), October (1878)

Sotheby’s, New York (1995):  $ 2,800,000/£ 1,775,185

October (1878), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 46 by 21 in. (116.84 by 53.34 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

 

13.  Sir John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896), Sleeping (1865)

Christie’s, London (1999):  $ 3,041,520/£ 1,900,000

Sleeping (1865), by John Everett Millais. Oil on canvas, 35 by 27 in. (88.90 by 68.58 cm). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

 

12.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882), The Salutation of Beatrice (1869)

Christie’s, London (2012):  $ 3,334,788/£ 2,169,250 (Premium)

The Salutation of Beatrice (1869), by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Oil on canvas, 22.48 by 18.50 in. (57.10 by 47.00 cm). (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

 

11.  Albert Joseph Moore (1841 – 1893), Jasmine (c. 1880)

Christie’s, London (2008):  $ 3,476,301/£ 1,777,250 (Premium)

Jasmine (c. 1880), by Albert Moore. Oil on canvas, 26.22 by 19.72 in. (66.60 by 50.10 cm). (Photo: Wikiart.org)

 

10.  Sir John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896), Sisters (1868)

Christie’s, London (2013):  $ 3,492,865/£ 2,301,875 (Premium)

Sisters (1868), by John Everett Millais. Oil on canvas, 42.52 by 42.52 in. (108.00 by 108.00 cm) (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

9.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882), Pandora (1869)

Christie’s, London (2000):  $ 3,605,280/£ 2,400,000

In 2004, Pandora sold for $ 2,378,480/£ 1,300,000 (Hammer) at Christie’s, London.

Pandora (1869), by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Pastel on paper, 37 by 26 in. (93.98 by 66.04 cm). (Photo: Wikiart.org)

 

8.  James Tissot (1836 – 1902), Le banc de jardin (The Garden Bench, 1880)

Sotheby’s, New York (1994):  $ 4,800,000/£ 3,035,093

Le banc de jardin (The Garden Bench, 1880). Oil on canvas, 39 by 56 in. (99.06 by 142.24 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

7.  William Holman Hunt (1827 – 1910), Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1867)

Christie’s, London (2014):  $ 4,890,161/£ 2,882,500 (Premium)

Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1867), by William Holman Hunt. Oil on canvas, 23.86 by 15.24 in. (60.60 by 38.70 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

6.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882), Proserpine (1880)

Sotheby’s, London (2013):  $ 5,279,476/£ 3,274,500 (Premium)

Proserpine (1880), by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Colored chalks, 47.24 by 22.05 in. (120.00 by 56.00 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

5.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882), A Christmas Carol (1867)

Sotheby’s, London (2013):  $ 7,463,337/£ 4,562,500 (Premium)

A Christmas Carol, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Oil on panel, 17.91 by 14.96 in. (45.50 by 38.00 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

4.  John William Waterhouse (1849 – 1917), St. Cecilia (1895)

Christie’s, London (2000):  $ 9,013,200/£ 6,000,000

St. Cecilia (1895), by John William Waterhouse. Oil on canvas, 48 by 79 in. (121.92 by 200.66 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

3.  Sir Edward Coley BurneJones (1833 – 1898), Love among the Ruins (1873)

Christie’s, London (2013):  $ 22,527,130/£ 14,845,875 (Premium)

Love Among the Ruins (1873), by Edward Burne-Jones. Watercolor, 37.99 by 60.00 in. (96.50 by 152.40 cm) (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

2.  Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912), The Meeting Of Antony And Cleopatra: 41 BC (1883)

Sotheby’s, New York (2011):  $ 29,202,500/£ 17,802,060 (Premium)

The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra: 41 BC (1883), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Oil on panel, 25 3/4 x 36 in. (65.5 by 91.4 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

1.  Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 – 1912), The Finding of Moses (1904)

Sotheby’s, New York (2010):  $ 35,922,500/£ 22,080,336 (Premium)

The finding of Moses sold for $ 2,500,000/£ 1,558,603 (Hammer) at Christie’s, New York in 1995.

The Finding of Moses (1904), Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Oil on canvas, 53.82 by 84.02 in. (136.70 by 213.40 cm). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

 

This price list is not in perfect order because, as I noted at the outset, some prices are hammer price (the winning bid amount) and some include the premium (hammer price with an additional percentage charged by the auction house, plus taxes).  But I’ve compiled the list using the best information available, and I hope you enjoy it!

©  2014 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Related posts:

Tissot vs. Whistler, Degas, Manet & Morisot oils at auction

James Tissot oils at auction: Seven favorites

Kathleen Newton by James Tissot: eight auctioned oil paintings

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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

On a sunny September afternoon, a black cab brought my husband and me to the gate at James Tissot’s former home in London, in Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood.  Built in 1825, the house was No. 17 when Tissot lived in it from early 1873 to late 1882; it now is No. 44.

IMG_5043, to use on blogBehind the glossy wooden gate is a graveled courtyard and parking area, and it was bustling with the household staff of a couple with four sons, who bought the house in 2006.

We were ushered through a covered, colonnaded access way to the front door, where we were met by the lady of the house.  Unpretentious and kind, she earned a degree from the University of Richmond – a 15-minute drive from my home in Virginia.  She offered us refreshments and graciously showed us through her home.  She once had lived nearby, had always admired the house, and was intrigued when it came on the market in 2006, for the first time since the mid-1950s.

The house had been renovated and returned to an imposing, single-family dwelling in 2003.  [See James Tissot’s house at St. John’s Wood, London.]

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.”

Bathrooms and a kitchen needed to be installed, and a great number of other renovations were necessary.

When James Tissot moved into the house in early in 1873, it was a medium-sized, two-storey Queen Anne villa.  In 1875, Tissot built an extension with a studio and huge conservatory that doubled the size of his house.  Eight years later, after the funeral of his young mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882), Tissot moved to Paris.  See James Tissot’s garden idyll & Kathleen Newton’s death.

IMG_5040, shot to use on blogThrough an agent, the painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema purchased the house in 1883, moved into it in mid-1885, and began extensive remodeling to enlarge and modify it into an Italianate mansion appropriate for his popular paintings of ancient Rome.

He built a three-story studio, capped with a semi-circular dome covered in aluminum, which gave a silvery tone to his paintings.

Alma-Tadema died in 1912, and the house was converted to apartments in the 1920s.  It later fell into disrepair and ended up on English Heritage’s “at risk” register.  In 1975, the property was marked with a blue plaque in honor of Alma-Tadema’s residence.

The property has been a Grade II listed building since 1987:  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.  The current owners followed strict guidelines in their remodeling and upgrades.  You can see some of the results at http://www.jenkins-design.co.uk/groveendroad/.

Now, elegant white walls are punctuated by wide Victorian doors of dark, polished wood, and here and there are built-in wooden cabinets and painted 19th-century cupboards.  The doors were found in the basement and reattached, and the cabinets and cupboards are protected by the property’s Grade II status.  The artistic mottoes that Alma-Tadema painted over a few thresholds remain, and the lady of the house has a soft spot for these sentiments about the joy of friends and conviviality.  Her home, decorated in a modern, minimalist style with contemporary art, perfectly marries Victorian touches with the owners’ taste:  one door is flanked by Alma-Tadema’s exotic, red-patterned ceramic tiles, and our hostess found a china pattern that echoes them.  Her husband initially was not keen on living in a Victorian house, but has grown to love it as well.  It is very much a comfortable family home exuding hospitality.

The dining area, also painted white, is clearly a Victorian space, with its dark mantel, ceiling beams and towering cabinetry.  The original, hefty bronze door rings are charming.

The centerpiece of the house is the room, now a spacious reception area, which was Alma-Tadema’s three-storey studio, with its huge, half-domed apse that faces slightly northeast.  He had covered it with aluminum, and the effect has been recreated with squares of aluminum leaf that also meld with the current décor.  The owners also recreated Alma-Tadema’s long, Romanesque frieze across the balcony overlooking the studio.

Hide and Seek (1877), by James Tissot.

Hide and Seek (1877), by James Tissot.

It was challenging for me to observe any presence of James Tissot’s gorgeously cluttered Victorian home in this sprawling, immaculately modern dwelling with an underground swimming pool and spa.  As we followed our hostess up stairways and down shorter flights of steps, and through halls and nooks, I felt disoriented as I struggled to glimpse the footprint of the studio extension that Tissot constructed in 1875.  Looking out the windows did not help, as the garden is much smaller now than it was when the house was Tissot’s.  The pool, on the eastern side of the house, which Tissot painted so often was buried during the renovations due to its dilapidated condition.  But as I again descended the steps from Alma-Tadema’s grand studio and faced a small, sun-lit conservatory, I suddenly felt a sense of déjà vu.  The conservatory has a monstera tree that our hostess chose to have planted there because of a specimen she had seen in The Regent’s Park.  Only later did she realize it is the exact tree that appears in many of Tissot’s oil paintings, such as In the Conservatory (Rivals), The Bunch of Lilacs, and Dans la serre.  She said the coincidence makes her shiver.

In the Conservatory (Rivals), . 1875, by James Tissot. Note the monstera plant in the background on the left. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

She generously invited my husband and me to linger and have another look at any part of the house we wished to see again.  It was the garden I wanted to study more closely, but try as I might, I could discern little resemblance to the colonnaded idyll that Tissot created in 1875.

Rather than being a museum, the house where James Tissot and Lawrence Alma-Tadema lived and painted is alive and lovingly cared for by people who respect the home’s history and are sensitive to the interest in the building.  In addition, the current owners run a charitable foundation from the house which provides opportunities for bright people from the developing world, especially the Middle East, to have a good education and also supports a number of humanitarian causes.

We thanked our hostess for sharing her time and her home with us and were shown by staff back through the labyrinth of rooms to the front of the house.

That day, we also explored some sites associated with Kathleen Kelly.

Church of Our Lady, 1

Church of Our Lady, Lisson Grove, built in 1836.

Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton, Tissot’s beguiling mistress, died of tuberculosis on November 9, 1882, at age 28, at Tissot’s house with her sister, Polly Hervey, at her side (according to the death register).  Tissot draped the coffin in purple velvet and prayed beside it for hours.  Immediately after the funeral on November 14, at the Church of Our Lady in Lisson Grove, St. John’s Wood, Tissot returned to Paris.

For those of you who are Beatles fans, Tissot’s former home is just steps away from the crossing at Abbey Road, made famous by the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, released in 1969 and still the band’s best-selling album.

IMG_5050, use on blog

6 Hill Road

 

 

We crossed Abbey Road to find the house that Kathleen Newton lived in when she met James Tissot around 1875 or 1876, when she was staying with her married sister, Mary Pauline “Polly” Ashburnham Kelly Hervey (1851/52 – 1896), and her husband and children at 6 Hill Road.

Click here to see an 1871 London map showing Grove End Road in relation to Hill Road.

The Church of Our Lady is further south, and St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery is at Kensal Green, west of St. John’s Wood.

Kathleen Newton’s grave is located a short walk from the cemetery office; the cemetery superintendent led us there.

Gravestone, closeup 2You would have to know where to look for plot 2903A, because it is difficult to read the name on the grave.

Also, the standing cross has fallen, and its disintegrating pieces are laid over the grave.

Just to the left are two similar graves from 1893 and 1894, and they are in excellent shape with the crosses still standing, but there are other nearby graves in the same condition as Kathleen Newton’s.

We found her grave covered with weeds, but I had come prepared with a pair of disposable gloves and cleared it as best as I was able.  It took a fair bit of time, and some of the growth was too prickly to remove.

Grave, weedy

Kathleen Newton’s grave as we found it.

 

IMG_5024

The grave after the weeds were pulled.

 

IMG_5038, shot to use on blog

IMG_5035, use on blog

Kathleen Newton’s grave, under the chestnut tree to the far right, between the tall cross and the raised tomb.

Arched over Kathleen’s grave are the branches of a lovely chestnut tree – the same tree that James Tissot painted over her in life in pictures including Holyday and October.  She was loved and celebrated, and though her grave is neglected and dilapidated, her beauty and her name will live forever.

That afternoon was unforgettable and a highlight of our week in the U.K.

Related posts:

Tissot in the Conservatory

Kathleen Newton by James Tissot: eight auctioned oil paintings

©  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.

 

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

Kathleen Newton In An Armchair

Kathleen Newton in an Armchair, by James Tissot   (Photo credit: 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.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema.  Photo: alma-tadema.com

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, 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)

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 by Sotheby’s, New York in May, 1996 for $1,650,000/£ 1,090,188, was sold by 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.

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.

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

http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2013/impressionism-fashion-modernity

Genius, or only strange tricks? Tissot’s friends Whistler & Alma-Tadema at the Royal Academy, 1870 (Part II)

James Whistler, http://www.nndb.com

At the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1870, James Tissot’s friend from his student days, the American expatriate, James Whistler (1834 — 1903) showed Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony.  It was so exotic that a critic commented, “It might have been painted in Japan.”

Another wrote, “The picture, though clever, is singularly slight for its place in the Academy; we may next expect to see on the walls the Japanese screens sold in Regent Street.”  Whistler was still in his long artistic crisis – he had not exhibited at the Royal Academy or the Salon since 1867 — and this picture is all he had to show for the last few years of struggle.

Whistler’s professional struggles were intertwined with his personal issues.  Over the past few years, and while his pious and adoring mother resided with him at 2 Lindsey Row, Whistler had begun what biographer Roy McMullen called “a lifelong process of losing friends.”

At the end of 1864, Whistler’s warm, six-year friendship with French artist Alphonse Legros ended when they quarreled about money – and Whistler mocked Legros’ marriage to Miss Frances Rosetta Hodgson, a British girl who was fifteen when he wed her.  As if that weren’t enough, in April 1867, when Legros accused Whistler of lying about a business matter, Whistler sent him to the floor with a fist to the face.

Whistler’s 45-year-old half-sister, Deborah (whom he called “Debo” or “Sis”), lived in London, but his once-close relationship with her became difficult after he pushed her husband, Seymour Haden, through a plate-glass window in Paris in 1867.  Haden, a surgeon, collector and etcher, had encouraged Whistler in his etching from 1858 on, but the two were no longer on speaking terms.

The fact that Whistler had any friends at all is perhaps explained by French painter Henri Fantin-Latour in July 1866:  “For to me, Whistler is like a wife, like a mistress whom one loves in spite of all the troubles she gives you.  He is, after all, seductive.”

It was about 1870, through D.G. Rossetti, that Whistler befriended the shipping entrepreneur and art collector Frederick R. Leyland (1832 – 1892) of Liverpool, who could be indulgent and generous as well as cold and bad-tempered.  Over the next decade, Whistler and Leyland – along with his wife — would form an interesting relationship.

On June 10, 1870, Whistler became a father.  His son was borne by Louisa Fanny Hanson, a 21-year-old parlourmaid from Clapham.  Whistler later referred to the boy as “an infidelity to Jo,” and it was Joanna Hiffernan – his former mistress – who adopted and raised the boy, Charles James Whistler Hanson, called John.

As for James Tissot’s Brussels-based Dutch friend, Lourens Alma Tadema, he by now styled himself Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836—1912).  This shrewd move put him at the beginning of alphabetical catalog and exhibition listings as he showed three paintings at the Royal Academy in 1870:  The juggler/Un jongleur, (No 119), A Roman Interior/ Un Intérieur Romain, and A Roman art lover/Un Amateur Romain (No 120).

A Juggler/Un Jongleur (No 119), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Wikipedia Commons

A Roman art lover/Un Amateur Romain (No 120, 1870), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Milwaukee Art Museum

There were the British critics to contend with:

“The artist has not lacked literal truth so much as sincere conviction.  With Mr. Tadema, sneer and irony discolor truth; moreover, this eccentric Dutchman dresses up history in so grotesque a garb that he casts ridicule on scenes which he might seem to honor.  He paints a “juggler,” and he is himself a juggler; he astounds by startling feats.  Whether he has genius, or only strange tricks, the world can scarcely judge.  Genius lays hold of essential truth; pseudo-genius exaggerates accident.”  (The Saturday Review, June 18, 1870)

Nevertheless, in just his second exhibition in London, the short, blond and bespectacled Alma-Tadema – an extrovert with a pronounced Dutch accent – already was gaining a following among English collectors, thanks to his agent and advocate, Ernest Gambart.  Gambart also saw to it that Tadema’s work was included in an exhibition at St Mary’s Hall in Glasgow.  Scottish poet and artist William Bell Scott (1811 –1890) commented that Gambart was “working the oracle for Alma-Tadema very successfully.”

With his sister, Artje, helping him to raise his two young daughters, the recently-widowed Alma-Tadema worked toward completing the forty-eight paintings that Gambart had commissioned from him in late 1867.  He finished Catullus reading his poems at Lesbia’s house (No 121) in March and then, through August, worked exclusively on The vintage festival (No 122).

The Vintage Festival (No 122), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

A reviewer for The Athenaeum commented extensively on Alma-Tadema’s work at the 1870 Royal Academy.  He expressed “regret that these works show signs of haste to reap the fruits of skill with less cost of study than usual.  [He] has soon begun to forget the steps by which he won honors and fame.”  After describing these paintings for his readers in minute detail regardless, the writer is exhausted with foreigners and writes, “It is time we turned to an English painter; and we may begin with the works of Mr. Millais.”

Stay tuned for The Royal Academy Exhibition:  London, 1870 (Part III) – featuring J.E. Millais

 © 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

Exhibition notes:

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

and

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 http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/upcoming-exhibitions

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.

Watch my new videos:

The Strange Career of James Tissot” (2:33 minutes)

and

Louise Jopling and James Tissot” (2:42 minutes)