Tag Archives: Paul Durand-Ruel

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

Even as James Tissot’s paintings were collected and valued during his early career in Paris and once he moved to London after the fall of the Paris Commune, he himself was a collector.  By the early to mid-1870s, as he began rebuilding his career in Victorian England, Tissot owned paintings by his struggling friends Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903), Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883) and Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917), and he helped Berthe Morisot (1841 –
1895) further her painting career.

By early 1871, Tissot had purchased a painting by Pissarro.  It has not been identified, but it was a canvas that Pissarro, who had fled to London in December 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War, submitted unsuccessfully to the Royal Academy in the spring.

The Grand Canal, Venice (Blue Venice), by Édouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 23 1/8 by 28 1/8 in. (58.7 by 71.4 cm.) Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont, U.S.A. Photo: Wikipaintings.org

Tissot also owned Manet’s The Grand Canal, Venice (Blue Venice), 1875, (oil on canvas, 23 1/8 by 28 1/8 in. (58.7 by 71.4 cm.), The Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont).  Tissot and Manet travelled to Venice together in the fall of 1874, and Tissot bought Manet’s Blue Venice on March 24, 1875 for 2,500 francs.  Manet badly needed the income.  Tissot hung the painting in his home in St. John’s Wood, London, and did his best to interest English dealers in Manet’s work.  Manet died on April 30, 1883; in 1884, while Tissot owned it, Blue Venice was included in a retrospective exhibition of Manet’s work, organized as a tribute, in Paris.  By August 25, 1891, Tissot sold the picture to contemporary art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel (1831 – 1922), and in 1895, Durand-Ruel sold it as Vue de Venise (View of Venice) to Mr. and Mrs. Henry O. Havemeyer, New York, for $12,000.  A prominent art collector, Mrs. Havemeyer (1855 – 1929) named the painting Blue Venice.  After the deaths of the Havemeyers, their youngest child, Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960), owned Blue Venice from 1929 until her death.  She had founded The Shelburne Museum in Vermont in 1947, and Manet’s painting entered the collection there in 1960.

Tissot helped Berthe Morisot as well, but only with advice.  In 1875, Berthe wrote to her sister, Edma, during her honeymoon in England with Manet’s brother, Eugène, “we left [Cowes]… 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.”  Berthe also wrote, “Today I shall hasten to that handsome Stanley, the bishop of Westminster Abbey, to whom I have a letter of introduction from the Duchess…Tissot tells me he is a very important personage, who can open all doors for us,” and she added, “Tissot tells me that during the regatta week at Cowes we saw the most fashionable society in England.”

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…I don’t mind seeing someone; it will be a change from the boarding-house routine.”  Later, she followed this with, “We went to see him yesterday.  He is very well installed, and is turning out excellent pictures.  He sells for as much as 300,000 francs at a time.  What do you think of his success in London?   He was very amiable, and complimented me although he has probably never seen any of my work.”

Horses in a Meadow (1871), by Edgar Degas.

Horses in a Meadow (1871), by Edgar Degas. Oil on canvas, 12 1/2 by 15 3/4 in. (31.8 by 40 cm.) Chester Dale Fund, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Photo by Lucy Paquette.

Tissot had met Degas in 1859, when they both studied art under Louis Lamothe (1822 – 1869), and the two had become close friends.  In 1867-68, Degas painted a portrait of James Tissot, then 31-32 years old.  Within a few years, Tissot owned two oil paintings by Degas: Horses in a Meadow (1871, oil on canvas, 12 1/2 x 15 3/4 in. (31.8 x 40 cm.), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) and Woman with Binoculars (1875-76, oil on cardboard, 18 7/8 x 11 7/8 in. (48 x 32 cm.), Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Galerie Neue Meister [State Art Collections, Dresden, New Masters Gallery]).

Horses in a Meadow was purchased from Degas in 1872 by Durand-Ruel, who sold it in January, 1874 for under 1,000 francs to opera baritone Jean Baptiste Faure (1830-1914), Paris.  Faure returned it to Degas, who gave it as a gift to James Tissot.  In 1890, Tissot sold Horses in a Meadow to Durand-Ruel for an unknown amount.  The picture was in the possession of Durand-Ruel until his death in 1922, then with his estate through 1925.  Mr. and Mrs. Jean D’Alayer owned it from 1951 to 1960; Mrs. D’Alayer was Paul Durand-Ruel’s granddaughter.  By 1991, New York art dealer Janet Traeger Salz had Horses in a Meadow, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. purchased it in 1995 with the Chester Dale Fund.

Woman with Binoculars (1875-76), by Edgar Degas.  oil on cardboard, 18 7/8 x 11 7/8 in. (48 x 32 cm.)  Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Galerie Neue Meister (State Art Collections, Dresden, New Masters Gallery).

Woman with Binoculars (1875-76), by Edgar Degas. oil on cardboard, 18 7/8 by 11 7/8 in. (48 by 32 cm.) Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Galerie Neue Meister (State Art Collections, Dresden, New Masters Gallery).

Degas gave his painting of a woman named Lyda, titled Woman with Binoculars, to Tissot as a gift right after finishing it in 1876.  It remained in Tissot’s possession until January 11, 1897, when he sold it to Durand-Ruel for 1,500 francs.  Durand-Ruel sold it to H. Paulus in November of that year for 6,000 francs.  By 1907, Dresden art historian and collector Woldemar von Seidlitz owned Woman with Binoculars; it is possible that he bought it directly from Durand-Ruel, because he often was in Paris.  When he died in January, 1922, he bequeathed the painting to his nephew, also named Woldemar von Seidlitz, from whom it was purchased in the same year for the Galerie Neue Meister.

American scholar and collector Michael Wentworth (1938-2002) wrote, “[Tissot’s] friendship with Degas came to an…unhappy end when Tissot sold two pictures Degas had once given him for reasons that, however inexplicable, can hardly have been financial and today still appear quite gratuitously insulting.” 

Christopher Wood (1941 – 2009), a former director at Christie’s, London and later an art dealer at the forefront of the revival in interest of Victorian art in the late 20th century with his gallery in Belgravia, wrote that Tissot’s “long, difficult and stormy relationship with Degas finally ended in 1895 [sic] when Tissot sold a painting which Degas had given him.”

Tissot scholar Willard E. Misfeldt (a professor of Art History at Bowling Green State University, Ohio from 1967 to 2001), suggested that a reason for the rupture between Tissot and Degas “might have been Degas’ penchant for expressing himself bluntly and openly, regardless of the fact that his statements were often uncomplimentary.”  But Misfeldt then stated, “Tissot had always been a clever entrepreneur, able to make a considerable fortune from his art where Degas had failed, and when Tissot later sought to turn a profit by selling something he had gotten from Degas the latter was understandably incensed.”  He notes that this incident took place in 1897.

Scholars consistently portray this break in a nearly forty-year friendship as Tissot’s fault, for supposedly being mercenary, with Degas being wronged.  Théodore Duret (1838 –1927; a wealthy cognac dealer and art critic who was an early supporter of the Impressionists), painter Henri Michel-Lévy (1845–1914; a wealthy publisher’s son), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) and James Tissot all sold works that they had bought from Degas or received as gifts.  “It is sad,” Degas said, “to live surrounded by scoundrels.”  Yet Degas himself capitalized on the increasing value of his work.

In 1893, Degas’ Absinthe was purchased for 21,000 francs.  Degas offended American painter Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926) two years later when he asked the Havemeyers three thousand dollars for a picture Cassatt had sold to them, for him, for one thousand dollars in 1893; the Havemeyers paid the increased price, but Degas lost Cassatt’s friendship for a long time.

In 1896, Degas’ work received the official stamp of approval when seven of his pastels were accepted by the Musée de Luxembourg.  Considering the small sum (1,500 francs) for which Tissot sold Woman with Binoculars in 1897, greed would have been an unlikely motivation.  After all, Tissot had earned a total of 1,200,000 francs during his eleven years painting in London, and he was now creating a sensation with his Bible illustrations, on which he had labored from 1886 to 1894.  He had made a third trip to Palestine in 1896 to gather further impressions, and his illustrations were exhibited in London in 1896 and in Paris, for the second time since 1894, in 1897.  One observer noted that, “women were seen to sink down on their knees as though impelled by a superior force, and literally crawl round the rooms in this position, as though in adoration.”  Tissot arranged to have the Bible pictures published in 1896-97, before the 1898 American tour, and he received a million francs for the reproduction rights.  He soon made arrangements with other publishers, in England and America.

It is possible that Tissot sold Manet’s Blue Venice in 1891 for a profit, after Manet’s 1883 death had made his work valuable.  Perhaps Tissot sold Degas’ Horses in a Meadow in 1890 after one of Degas’ early dance pictures was sold at auction for 8,000 francs that year.  But why did he sell Woman with Binoculars in 1897, especially for a mere 1,500 francs when it was worth four times that?

Alfred Dreyfus stripped of rank, by Henri Meyer (1844–1899). Le Petit Journal, January 13, 1895. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

One possible explanation for Tissot’s sale of Woman with Binoculars can be found in the fact that from 1894, an evolving political scandal polarized France.  A young French artillery officer of Jewish descent, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, was convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly having offered confidential French military documents to the German Embassy in Paris.  In 1896, new evidence showed that the act was committed by a French Army major; the evidence was suppressed, and on January 10, 1898, a military court acquitted the major.  The Army, using forged documents, then accused Dreyfus of additional charges.

The French were divided into two camps:  The Dreyfusards, who were sure an innocent man had been sent to prison, and the anti-Dreyfusards, who were adamant that the general staff of France’s Army should not be undermined.

Dreyfusards, considered the intellectuals, included painters Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Mary Cassatt; writer Émile Zola; actress Sarah Bernhardt; and author and playwright Ludovic Halévy and his family.

The anti-Dreyfusards, considered the nationalists and adherents of the Catholic revival, included Degas, Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir; sculptor Auguste Rodin; poet and essayist Paul Valéry; and Degas’ old friend Henri Rouart and his four sons.

A turning point came on January 13, 1898, when Zola’s open letter to the President of France was published on the front page of a Paris newspaper.  Zola accused the French Army of obstruction of justice and anti-Semitism in its wrongful conviction of Alfred Dreyfus to life imprisonment.

Photographic self-portrait (probably autumn 1895), by Edgar Degas. Gelatin silver print, 4 11/16 by 6 9/16 in. Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum. Photo: Wikimedia.org

Degas ended his fifty-year friendship with his old schoolmate, playwright and novelist Ludovic Halévy (1834 – 1908), over differences regarding the Dreyfus Affair, in the first weeks of January, 1898.  Degas also broke with several others, including Pissarro, at this time.

Paul Valéry (1871 – 1945) wrote, “Degas had political ideas.  They were simple, peremptory, essentially Parisian.  At the slightest indication he inferred, he exploded, he broke off.  ‘Adieu, Monsieur,’ and he turned his back on the adversary forever…Politics in the Degas style were inevitably like himself – noble, violent, impossible.”

Français : James Tissot

James Tissot

By November, 1895, Degas was openly anti-Semitic.   James Tissot had numerous Jewish friends, including Sir Julius Benedict (1804 – 1885), a German-born composer and conductor whom Tissot portrayed as the pianist in his 1875 painting, Hush! (The Concert); Frances, Countess Waldegrave (1821 – 1879), an influential London Society hostess and friend whose portrait Tissot painted; Algernon Moses Marsden (1847 – 1920), whose portrait he painted in 1877 and who, for a time, acted as his art dealer; Camille Pissarro; and, by one account, English Pre-Raphaelite painter Simeon Solomon (1840 –1905).

Perhaps Degas initiated the rift with Tissot, who then sold Woman with Binoculars, a gift Degas had given him when they were dear friends.

Interestingly, Degas kept his 1867-68 portrait of Tissot until his death in 1917.  It is now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in Gallery 810.

Portrait of James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836–1902), c. 1867-68, by Edgar Degas. Oil on canvas, 59 5/8 by 44 in. (151.4 by 111.8 cm.) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1939. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Related posts:

Tissot and Manet attempt to help their friend Degas, 1868

Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?

I am grateful to the following individuals for sharing information on the provenance of two of the paintings discussed in this article:

Dr. Gilbert Lupfer and Juliane Au, Intern

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden


Leslie Wright, Public Relations and Marketing Manager

Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont

© 2013 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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


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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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


“The Future of French Art”: Henri Regnault (1843-1871)

Salomé, by Henri Regnault (1870).

Salomé, by Henri Regnault (1870).   Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.  (Photo: Wikipedia)

Henri-Alexandre-Georges Regnault (1843 –1871), a Parisian, began his Salomé in Rome.  The model was Maria Latini, the fiancée of one of Regnault’s friends.  (She also posed for the female sculptor Marcello’s bronze Pythia,  1870, Opéra Garnier, Paris).  Regnault met Maria in Rome, and the painting began there in 1868 or 1869 as a portrait head.  He later enlarged the canvas at the bottom and right and painted his subject as Salomé, completing the work in Tangier in the spring of 1870.  Regnault sold the picture for between 12,000 and 14,000 francs to an art dealer who sold it in March 1870 to the young Paris dealer Paul DurandRuel (1831 – 1922) for 14,000 or 16,000 francs.  Durand-Ruel lent it for exhibition at the Salon in 1870 from May 1 through June 20, then sold it for between 35,000 and 36,000 francsSalomé won Regnault his second gold medal.  The acclaimed history painter and sculptor, Ernest Meissonier (1815 – 1891) considered Henri Regnault the future of French art.

English: Henri Victor Regnault Artist: Léon Cr...

Henri Victor Regnault (1810-1878), c. 1861-65.  Albumen silver print by Léon Crémière (1831 – 1872).  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.  Gift of A. Hyatt Mayor, 1967.  (Photo: Wikipedia)

Regnault began drawing zoo animals by the age of eight, and his father, Victor Regnault (1810 – 1878) – an eminent chemist and physicist — sent his precocious, well-educated second son at age 17 to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, which taught drawing but not painting.  Like James Tissot, Regnault first attempted to study painting under Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864), a student of Neoclassical master Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867).  But Flandrin was busy painting frescoes at Saint Germain-des-Prés, and sent him (as he had sent James Tissot) to Louis Lamothe (1822-1869), another former student of Ingres.  Lamothe directed him to copy Italian Renaissance painter Raphael (1483-1520), French Baroque painter Poussin (1594 – 1665), and Ingres.  At the École des Beaux-Arts, Regnault studied with Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), drawing from nude models.

Regnault entered the prestigious Prix de Rome competition in 1863 but did not win, and at the Salon in 1864, he exhibited two unremarkable portraits.  But in 1866, almost giving up hope, he finally won the Prix de Rome, with Thetis Giving the Weapons of Vulcan to Achilles.  He was still 22.

Self-portrait with a maulstick, by Henri Regnault, c. 1863. Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, USA. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Georges Clairin (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

A Parisian with an expansive dining room had commissioned six large canvases from Henri Regnault and two of his fellow students, Georges Clairin (1843 – 1919, who first exhibited at the 1866 Salon) and Édouard Blanchard (1844–1879, who also studied with Alexandre Cabanel at the École des Beaux-Arts, and who would win the Prix de Rome in 1868).  One of these paintings, Regnault’s Still Life with Pomegranates (c. 1865, now at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia), was exhibited at the Salon in 1867.

Winning the Prix de Rome entitled Regnault to a grant from the French government that funded his travel and living expenses for three years while he studied classical painting at the French Academy in Rome.  He left in March, 1867 with great freedom to learn and explore.  He only was required to send one history painting a year back to Paris.

Friends described Henri Regnault as demanding, arrogant and temperamental, but also fun, generous and compassionate.  He was a well-bred gentleman who enjoyed music, particularly Beethoven, and had a fine singing voice.  He also was athletic and enjoyed hiking, swimming, hunting, and horseback riding.

Regnault sent a portrait of a lady to the Salon in 1868, and he completed the enormous Automedon Taming the Horses of Achilles (1868, 124 by 129.5 in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) as the first history painting due in Paris by the terms of his prize.  In August, he and his friend Georges Clairin traveled to Madrid.  At his request, Regnault was permitted to continue to work in locations other than Rome while still funded by his Prix de Rome grant — the first prize winner to receive this special permission.  He studied Diego Velázquez (1599 – 1660, an individualistic painter in the court of King Philip IV) and Francisco de Goya (1746 – 1828, court painter to the Spanish Crown, known for his bold handling of paint) in the Prado Museum while painting portraits, including that of the liberal revolutionary General Juan Prim y Prats (1869, Musée d’Orsay, Paris).  Regnault loved to paint horses, and he was invited to select the horse from the royal stables for this equestrian portrait.  Although the General rejected it, his life-sized portrait (124 by 102 inches) won a gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1869 and was purchased by the French Government.

Regnault returned to Rome in the spring of 1869, writing his father in March, “Rome now seems to me lighted by a night-lamp.”  By August, he had moved to Spain.  He and Clairin  went to Alicante, then Granada.  But by December, Regnault was in Morocco, and Clairin joined him.  The two painters rented an ancient Moorish house in Tangier where they could work in solitude, waited on by a half-dozen devoted servants. They furnished the place richly with Oriental carpets, textiles and curiosities, and they kept horses and dogs.  Regnault loved his picturesque, sunny and tranquil life there so much that he purchased land and built a studio massive enough to accommodate his largest paintings.  He planned to construct his own house – “a little palace” with stables and dog kennels – there as well.

Under the terms of the Prix de Rome, Regnault was required to send one last history painting back to Paris.  He sent Execution without Judgment under the Moorish Kings (1870, Museé d’Orsay, Paris), to the Salon in 1870.

Execution without Judgment under the Moorish Kings of Granada (1870), by Henri Regnault. Musée d’Orsay. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

And then France declared war against Prussia.

The Prix de Rome exempted winners from military duty, but at the outbreak of war between France and Prussia, Henri Regnault joined the ranks of the National Guard defending Paris because he felt he would be only a mediocre officer but a model foot soldier.  He served in the 69th infantry battalion, 4th company, and he prepared for death in combat by attaching to his clothing a card with his name, “Henri Regnault, painter, son of M. Victor Regnault, of the Institute [of France, a learned society],” and some letters and portraits for his Parisian fiancée, with her name and address.  On January 19, 1871, seven miles west of Paris during the Battle of Buzenval [in which James Tissot’s unit also fought], Regnault and Clairin were separated.  The retreat was sounded, and Clairin could not find Regnault.  He returned to Paris without him.

It was reported in the New York Times on January 29, 1871 that Henri Regnault was a Franc-tireur, or sniper.  One of Regnault’s comrades saw Regnault stay behind after the retreat was sounded – to fire his last bullet – and this comrade believed he saw Regnault fall an instant later.  The sculptor Joseph Carlier (1849 – 1927), who himself took three bullets, said he saw Regnault drop.  A contemporary reporter noted, perhaps with a little flair for drama considering that Regnault was shot in the left temple by a Prussian bullet, “When they picked [Regnault] up, he had just strength to point to the address [of his fiancée], and then he was dead.”

In the extensive research I conducted for my novel, The Hammock*, I happened on an eyewitness account from an American volunteer who was on the battlefield digging graves.   He stated that Regnault’s fiancée was there:

“We saw out there the young lady who was soon to have married Henri Regnault.  She was looking for his body among the dead, and found it during the day.  The memory of that sweet, brave girl in that awful scene has lent a pathos to the story of his life and death which I do not get out of the writers and painters who have since dwelt so much and so lovingly upon the subject.”

The distinguished painter and sculptor Ernest Meissonnier claimed to have personally retrieved Regnault’s corpse from the battlefield, but Regnault’s biographer writes that a medical volunteer had located his body the morning after the battle, and that it was moved the next day with two hundred others from the battlefield to the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Henri Regnault’s funeral service at the new Church of St. Augustine was packed with hundreds of mourners – politicians, soldiers, poets and painters – and the crowd spilled outside the entrance.  Meissonnier delivered the oration at the funeral, held on Friday, January 27 – the day before France surrendered to Prussia.  It is said that Regnault’s fiancée, Mademoiselle Geneviève Bréton (1849 – 1918), set a small bouquet of white lilacs on his casket.

Only twenty-seven when he died, Regnault left sixty-five oil paintings, forty-five water colors, nearly two hundred sketches, and a reputation as a genius – the greatest French painter of his generation.

Henri Regnault (1871), by Louis-Ernest Barrias. Musée d’Orsay. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

For years, Regnault’s friends met on the day and at the place that he was killed, where a monument was erected to his memory.  Among the other tributes to Regnault was Marche héroïque (1871), by his friend, the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 – 1921), who also had served in the National Guard.  Louis-Ernest Barrias (1841 – 1905) sculpted a bronze bust of Regnault, now at the Museé d’Orsay, in 1871.  Henri Chapu (1833 – 1891) sculpted a monument to the students of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris who died defending Paris in 1870-71.  The monument, incorporating a bronze bust of Regnault by Charles Degeorge (1837 – 1888), in the courtyard of the École, was erected in 1872 by the pupils there at the time of a memorial exhibition for Regnault.  The French government bought Regnault’s Execution without Judgment from his heirs in 1872, to honor his memory.

The Siege of Paris, 1870-1871 (c. 1884), by Ernest Meissonier. Musée d’Orsay. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Meissonier completed his heroic painting, The Siege of Paris, 1870, around 1884; it features the fallen Regnault leaning against the pedestal in the center.

For years, Henri Regnault’s Salomé was considered a masterpiece of contemporary art.  When it was put up for sale by a private collector in 1912, Baron Henri de Rothschild tried to raise the funds necessary to keep the painting in France.  He was outbid for the purchase price of 528,000 francs, and Salomé was presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1916, where it continues to shimmer with the youth and promise of its creator.

[*] In my book, The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, Henri Regnault is killed in the Battle of Malmaison on October 21, 1870 [in which he likely fought] rather than in the  Battle of Buzenval on January 19, 1871.  I included him in my opening chapter to depict the caliber of the artists fighting to defend Paris.

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

Exhibition notes:

James Tissot: Painting the Victorian Woman

The Hepworth, Wakefield, U.K., March 28 to November 3, 2013

“Taking the much cherished painting On the Thames, 1876, from our collection as a starting point, this new collection display explores the representation of women in the work of French born artist, James Tissot (1836-1902).

The display will also feature loans from Tate and several regional art galleries, and will discuss the portrayal of Victorian femininity in relation to Tissot’s life-history and the contrasting roles of women in the region’s coal industry.”

For more information:   www.hepworthwakefield.org

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