Tag Archives: Thomas Gibson Bowles

A spotlight on Tissot at the Tate’s “The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London”

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “A spotlight on Tissot at the Tate’s “The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London”.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/a-spotlight-on-tissot-at-the-tates-the-ey-exhibition-impressionists-in-london/. <Date viewed.>

 

A month ago, I flew to London to visit“The EY Exhibition:  Impressionists in London:  French Artists in Exile 1870-1904″ at Tate Britain.Its premise is summarized by the Tate:  “In the 1870s, France was devastated by the Franco-Prussian war and insurrection in Paris, driving artists to seek refuge across the Channel.  Their experiences in London and the friendships that developed not only influenced their own work but also contributed to the British art scene.”

IMG_6912The exhibition is huge, and the galleries were crowded on each of the two days I visited.  There is a great deal of beauty on display, but it’s also a very ambitious, cerebral show, so you have to pace yourself.

James Tissot fought to defend Paris in the Franco-Prussian War, served as a stretcher-bearer, participated in the bloody Commune the following spring, and fled to London in June, 1871.  For me, this show was an opportunity to view several works by Tissot never before displayed in public, as well as many of Tissot’s most intriguing oil paintings in a single venue.  These have been cleaned for the occasion, and the colors are as vibrant as if they’d been newly painted.  I was one of many visitors transfixed by the restored beauty of Tissot’s brushwork and the details revealed.

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The Green Room of the Théâtre-Français (1877), by James Tissot.  Courtesy of http://www.jamestissot.org

I’ve created the following virtual tour for those who cannot make it to London to see this – or who have not yet seen it, and may soon.  Commentary is mine unless otherwise noted.

In the first gallery of the exhibition, with its walls painted a somber aubergine, I was one of many fascinated by sketches and watercolors Tissot made during the Franco-Prussian War.  Since I have a special interest in his life and work during the war, the Siege of Paris, and the Commune, I’m afraid I may have impeded traffic in this section of the gallery.

For additional information on this tumultuous period, see my posts:

James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71

Paris, June 1871

London, June 1871

The Artists’ Rifles, London

Tissot’s elegant watercolor, The Wounded Soldier (c. 1870), acquired by the Tate in 2016, is a singularly beautiful image of a restless young man in uniform perched on the arm of a sofa.  Thanks to the staff in the Tate Study Room, I had a chance to view this work closely on an earlier visit to London in the weeks before this exhibition.  It likely was painted within the city walls of Paris, where the wounded were brought to convalesce in public buildings.  The Wounded Soldier is James Tissot’s most sensitive, profound, and arresting work and shows him in a new light.  The exhibition text notes that he kept it in his studio all his life, never exhibiting it.  This is the first time it has been displayed in public.  Photography is prohibited in the exhibition, but click here to see an image of it.

In the bitter aftermath of the war, French citizens engaged in a bloody uprising against the new republican government.  My research indicates that Tissot participated in the Commune in some way, and like many of his peers, including Manet, Degas and Renoir, he seemed sympathetic to the plight of the Communards when the government ended the standoff with mass executions.  Tissot, renowned for painting the ruffles and ribbons of women’s fashions, documented this period in French history in a way no one else did.  The exhibition features his eyewitness account in watercolor, The Execution of Communards by French Government Forces at Fortifications in the Bois de Boulogne, 29 May 1871 (private collection), displayed in public for the first time.  This horrifying image was sent along with a letter to Lady Waldegrave (1821 – 1879), a prominent Liberal hostess in London whom Tissot likely met through J.E. Millais, if not his friend Tommy Bowles (Thomas Gibson Bowles (1841 – 1922).

The letter has been expertly translated from the original French by the exhibition curator, Dr. Caroline Corbeau-Parsons, Assistant Curator 1850-1915 at Tate Britain.  In it, Tissot writes a graphic stream-of-consciousness narrative of executions of Communards, or suspected Communards, by government soldiers.  Dr. Corbeau-Parsons, who organized the exhibition, notes that his “broken language” and his lack of grammatically correct accents betrays how traumatized he was in witnessing this horror, and yet Tissot is surprisingly thorough in relating this experience to Lady Waldegrave.  Exhibition visitors stop to read this translated letter in its entirety.  There is so little documentation on Tissot that it is as if he finally has a voice; otherwise, his work must speak for itself.  But this exhibition, with its new works by Tissot, gives him a chance to do that.

Passing through the second gallery, which refreshes the mood of the exhibition with its sky blue walls, I found my gold mine of Tissot’s oils in the spacious third room, where the tan walls come alive with his colors.

First, take a look at the smaller items that rarely (if ever) have been displayed in public.  Here, you will find Tissot’s sketch of the handsome young Bowles,  used as an illustration in The Defence of Paris; narrated as it was seen, published in London in 1871, Bowles’ eyewitness account as a special correspondent for The Morning Post.  (Incidentally, this book is a great read, as Bowles was terribly witty and writes with a startlingly unperturbed and ironic tone.)

For additional information on the relationship between Tissot and Bowles, see my posts:

1869: Tissot meets “the irresistible” Tommy Bowles, founder of British Vanity Fair

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

Tissot’s graphite drawing, A Cantinière of the National Guard (1870-71), is much more interesting than the engraving of it used as an illustration in Bowles’ book.  A cantinière, the exhibition text explains, was “something like a nurse and a sutler (supplier of provisions) accompanying the troops – cantinières also took up arms on many occasions, playing an increasingly important role in the siege.”

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Portrait of Mrs. B (Mrs. Thomas Gibson Bowles, 1876), by James Tissot.  (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Don’t miss Tissot’s etching of Bowle’s wife, Portrait of Mrs. B (1876).  Tommy Bowles was the illegitimate son of Thomas Milner Gibson and a servant, Susannah Bowles.  Jessica Evans-Gordon, daughter of Major-General C. G. Evans Gordon, Governor of Netley Hospital, married Bowles in December 1875 and died at 35 in 1887, having borne him four children.  Though Tommy Bowles was quite high-spirited in his youth, he was devoted to the prudent Jessie, so very sober in this image.  After her death, he wrote “So bright and joyous, so gentle and gracious a spirit as hers…still more rarely has been so ordered by a sense of duty.  She was as near perfect wife and mother as may be.”

Then, indulge in the visual feast of some of Tissot’s best, and most well-known, oil paintings – brimming with his wit, flair, psychological insight and unparalleled ability to capture moments of Victorian life and transport us to his world.

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Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1870), by James Tissot.  Oil on panel, 50 by 61 cm.  National Portrait Gallery, London.  (Photo by Lucy Paquette, 2014).

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Napoléon III, by Tissot (Photo:  Wiki)

Tissot, 33 when he painted this small picture of the debonair Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1870).  Tissot owned a villa on the most prestigious avenue in Paris (now avenue Foch), and he occasionally supplied his British friend Tommy Bowles with caricatures of prominent men for Vanity Fair, Tommy’s new Society magazine which had made its début in London in 1868.  (The exhibition features Tissot’s caricature, Napoléon III, Emperor of France, published in Vanity Fair on September 4, 1869.)  One of Tommy Bowles’ closest friends was the dashing Gus Burnaby (Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, 1842 – 1885), a captain in the privileged Royal Horse Guards, the cavalry regiment that protected the monarch.  Gus, a member of the Prince of Wales’ set, had suggested the name, Vanity Fair, lent Bowles half of the necessary £200 in start-up funding, and then volunteered to go to Spain to chronicle his adventures for the satirical magazine.  All Burnaby’s letters, which were first published on December 19, 1868 and continued through 1869, were titled “Out of Bounds” and signed “Convalescent” (he suffered intermittent bouts of digestive ailments and depression throughout his life).  Tommy Bowles was 29 when he commissioned Tissot to paint Burnaby’s portrait.

[To learn about another portrait commission from Bowles to Tissot (not included in the exhibition), see my post:  James Tissot’s “Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson” (c. 1872).]

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Les Adieux (The Farewells) 1871, by James Tissot, oil on canvas, 100.3 by 62.5 cm.  Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.  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

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A Huguenot (1851-52), by J.E. Millais.  (Photo:  Wiki)

 

James Tissot fled Paris in June, 1871.  He arrived in London with less than one hundred francs, and with the help of a handful of friends, he proceeded to rebuild his career.

In 1872, Tissot exhibited Les Adieux (The Farewells, 1871) at the Royal Academy.  A sentimental costume piece calculated to appeal to the British public, it is displayed adjacent to J.E. Millais’ A Huguenot (1851-52), which it greatly resembles.  [See my post, Was James Tissot a Plagiarist?]

Les Adieux was reproduced as a steel engraving by John Ballin and published by Pilgeram and Lefèvre in 1873 – an indication of its popularity.

This exhibition is a great opportunity to see this painting.

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Too Early (1873), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 71 by 102 cm.  Guildhall Art Gallery.  (Photo by Lucy Paquette, 2014)

James Tissot exhibited Too Early at the Royal Academy in 1873, where it was his first big success after moving to London from Paris two years previously.  According to his friend, the painter Louise Jopling (1843 – 1933), Too Early “made a great sensation…It was a new departure in Art, this witty representation of modern life.”  Too Early was purchased by London art dealer William Agnew (1825 – 1910) – who specialized in “high-class modern paintings” – and sold in March, 1873 (before its exhibition at the Royal Academy that year) to Charles Gassiot for £1,155.  Gassiot (1826 – 1902) was a London wine merchant and art patron who, with his wife Georgiana, donated a number of his paintings to the Guildhall Art Gallery, London, including Too Early.  For more on this painting, see my post, A Closer Look at Tissot’s “Too Early”.

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London Visitors (c. 1874), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 86.3 by 63.5 cm.  Milwaukee Art Museum.  (Photo: Wikipedia)

According to interesting new research by Tissot scholar Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz, this painting is not a smaller replica of London Visitors in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art, as formerly believed.  Mrs. Matyjaszkiewicz has learned from records in the National Gallery Archive that the smaller painting was completed several months before the other.  First called The Portico, the picture in this exhibition was sold by Thomas Agnew & Sons as Country Cousins.  This is a rare opportunity to see London Visitors up close.

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The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 105 by 150 cm.  Musée Nationale du Château de Compiègne. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Empress Eugénie and the Prince Impérial in the Grounds at Camden Place, Chislehurst (c. 1874) depicts the exiled French Empress (1826 – 1920), living outside London after the collapse of the Second Empire, and her son, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (1856 – 1879), who would be killed at age 23, in the Zulu War.  The only child of Napoléon III of France, he was accepted to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in 1872 and is pictured in his uniform as a cadet.  The Empress is in her first year of mourning following the death of her husband in January, 1873, after surgery to remove bladder stones.

Alison McQueen, in Empress Eugénie and the Arts:  Politics and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century (Routledge, 2017), states that the picture was commissioned by the Empress and adds, “The wicker chairs and carpet reappear in A Convalescent (c. 1875-76), which further suggests Tissot constructed these scenes in his studio and was not recording mother and son from life studies executed on the property at Camden.”

According to Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz, who wrote the exhibition catalogue entry, he painted this double portrait of the exiled French royals for the 1875 Royal Academy exhibition, but it was rejected, along with two others (while yet two others, Hush! (The Concert) and The Bunch of Lilacs, were accepted.)

The painting was purchased by Kaye Knowles, Esq. (1835-1886), a client of London art dealer Algernon Moses Marsden [1848-1920, see Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?].  Knowles, whose vast wealth came from shares in his family’s Lancashire coal mining business, owned a large collection of paintings by contemporary artists, including three other oils by Tissot.

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Hush! (The Concert, 1875), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 73.7 by 112.2 cm.  Manchester Art Gallery.  (Photo: Wikiart.org)

James Tissot displayed Hush! (The Concert) at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1875, at the height of his success in London.  It depicts a crowded Kensington salon, said to have been hosted by Lord and Lady Coope, which features a performer believed to be Moravian violinist Wilma Neruda (1838 – 1911).  Though Tissot received an invitation to this soirée, he was not given permission to make portraits of any of the guests.  Acquired by the Manchester Art Gallery in 1933, Hush! is a lovely picture that, on closer inspection, is quite witty.  For more on this painting, see my post, A Closer Look at Tissot’s “Hush! (The Concert)”.

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

By 1873, two years after Tissot arrived in London, he had established himself in a Queen Anne-style villa at 17 (now 44), Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood.  He designed his garden as a blend of English-style flower beds and plantings familiar to him from French parks.  Gravel paths led to kitchen gardens and greenhouses for flowers, fruit and vegetables.  View of the Garden at 17 Grove End Road (c. 1874-1882) is unusual in that Tissot seldom depicted a landscape that was not a background for figures.  Previously in a private collection, View of the Garden was sold to Agnew’s at Sotheby’s, London in 2000 and purchased by the Geffrye in 2004.

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Summer (A Portrait, 1876), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 91.4 by 50.8 cm.  Tate.

Summer (A Portrait), 1876 is radiant and has benefited from recent cleaning.  The woman’s white muslin gown, with its lemon-yellow stain bows, shimmers, and details such as her ring, and the designs on the blue-green curtains, pull you into the scene.

This painting was exhibited by Tissot at the new Grosvenor Gallery, London, from May to June 1877 as A Portrait.

The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth) c.1876 by James Tissot 1836-1902
The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth), c.1876, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 68.6 by 91.8 cm.  Tate.

Though I’ve visited the Tate numerous times, this is the first time I’ve seen The Gallery of HMS Calcutta in person.  What can I say – it’s one of Tissot’s masterpieces, and I was rooted to the spot studying it, as was everyone around me.  You just cannot take your eyes off the gowns, the bows, the faces, the curvaceous wrought-iron railing, the way Tissot painted the caned chairs, the curves of the windows, the rigging of the ships in the distance…it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet for the eyes.  Tissot exhibited it at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877 to rather cutting reviews.  Go see it while you can, and form your own opinion.

Also in this third gallery are a few etchings and photographs of Kathleen Newton (1854 –1882), Tissot’s young mistress and muse from about 1876 until her death from tuberculosis six years later.  An idea for a future exhibition would be a display of the numerous images of Mrs. Newton that Tissot produced, with all known photographs of her and of the two of them together, but this exhibition is not about their relationship.

Keep walking, because in a further gallery showcasing images of “British Sports, Crowds, and Parks,” you will find more of Tissot’s paintings.

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Holyday (c. 1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 76.2 by 99.4 cm.  Tate.

In Holyday (c. 1876), Tissot painted members of the famous I Zingari cricket club (which still exists, and is one of the oldest amateur cricket clubs) in their distinctive black, red and gold caps in his garden at 17 Grove End Road, St. John’s Wood, which was only a few hundred yards from Lord’s cricket ground.  Holyday was owned by James Taylor, who lent it for exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery in London from May to June, 1877.  The painting was purchased by the Tate in 1928.

I’ve long wanted to see Holyday up close, and I found it so intriguing.  The painting includes a woman I’d never noticed in print or digital images – she is indicated only by her white straw bonnet, behind the man leaning against a tree on the far right of the picture.  And the addition of the two other women on the picnic blanket is indicated in the bottom left corner by their skirts, one black-and-white striped, one brown, with the soles of her shoes peeking out behind her knife-pleated hemline.  There’s also a little girl, whom I’ve never noticed, sitting at the feet of the old lady in the wicker chair.  This is such a merry picture!  It makes you want to join this lively group for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

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The Ball on Shipboard (c. 1874), by James Tissot.  Tate.  (Photo: Lucy Paquette, 2014)

The Ball on Shipboard (1874) is a large, dramatic, detailed painting that invites speculation:  an enigmatic image as precise as a photograph but which evades precise meaning.  You find yourself transfixed as you try to puzzle it out.

In the center are two women wearing matching blue-and-white yachting gowns.  Scholars have written that Tissot had a fixation with twins, though in the 2013 blockbuster exhibition, “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity”  exhibition curator Gloria Groom of The Art Institute of Chicago asserted that in The Ball on Shipboard, Tissot was satirizing the rise of ready-to-wear fashion (and, of course, the vulgar social climbing efforts of the nouveaux riches).  This is not Tissot’s only painting of women wearing identical ensembles:  see In the Conservatory (1875-76, also known as The Rivals).  In fact, according to my own research, Alexandra, Princess of Wales (1844 – 1925) and her sister, at that time Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna of Russia. (1847 –1928, formerly Princess Dagmar of Denmark), were very close and had a habit of wearing identical ensembles when they were together, setting off a general fad for “double-dressing.”  When the Grand Duchess and her husband the Tsarevich visited London in the summer of 1873, the two sisters wore the same costumes on at least thirteen occasions.

In “Impressionists in London,” it is asserted the pair of women in the center of The Ball on Shipboard actually are the Princess of Wales and Maria Feodorovna of Russia, and the occasion an afternoon dance held on the royal naval frigate HMS Ariadne on August 12, 1873, according to research by Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz.

Ball, detail 3I’m not on board with this theory.  Making royal portraits on, or of, such an occasion would have required that Tissot receive official permission.  This was unlikely, since he was a foreigner and regarded with suspicion for his participation, real or rumored, in the Paris Commune of 1871.  He was not granted permission to make portraits of any of the guests at Lord and Lady Coopes’ salon for Hush! (The Concert, 1873).   Had he received such permission from the royal family, it would have been common knowledge at the time.  But instead of recognizing this as a royal dance, one reviewer wrote, “The girls who are spread about in every attitude are evidently the ‘high life below stairs’ of the port, who have borrowed their mistresses’ dresses for the nonce,” and another objected to the unseemly amount of cleavage revealed by the women wearing the blue and green day dresses (left of center).  Another critic found in the picture, “no pretty women, but a set of showy rather than elegant costumes, some few graceful, but more ungraceful attitudes, and not a lady in a score of female figures,” and another found it “garish and almost repellent.”  While Tissot’s contemporaries (but interestingly, not Tissot himself) identified the setting as the yearly regatta at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, no one at the time considered this a painting of a royal event.  It also makes no sense that Tissot would have made portraits of these two royal women in their matching nautical gowns – and painted the same gown in Reading the News (c. 1874).  It makes more sense that Tissot seized on the concept of a regatta scene while showcasing his skill at painting women’s fashions during the craze for double-dressing, also celebrated by the pairs of women in blue and in green in the center background.

Ball, detail 2If The Ball on Shipboard had featured a double portrait of royalty, it was not purchased by anyone connected to the royal family.  London art dealer William Agnew (1825 – 1910) – who specialized in “high-class modern paintings” – purchased The Ball on Shipboard from Tissot that year and sold it to Hilton Philipson (1834 – 1904), a solicitor and colliery owner living at Tynemouth.  It was later owned by equine painter Alfred Munnings (1878 – 1959), who presented it to the Tate in 1937.

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On the Thames (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 74.8 by 110 cm.  The Hepworth Wakefield.  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.

Remember to look behind the partition at the back of the room for On the Thames (c. 1876), a masterpiece of texture:  wood, wicker, fabric, fur, leather, metal, water, and mist.  Take a long, close look at the picnic hamper.

Tissot displayed this picture as The Thames at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1876, the year he painted it.  It was attacked by reviewers for The Times, the Athenaeum, the Spectator and the Graphic as depicting a subject they considered thoroughly unBritish – prostitution.  What else would the Victorians think of a painting of a rakish officer in a boat with two attractive women and a picnic hamper with three bottles of champagne?  The women were perceived as “undeniably Parisian ladies,” and the picture itself, “More French, shall we say, than English?”

This criticism prompted Tissot to paint the more innocent Portsmouth Dockyard (How Happy I Could be with Either!, c. 1877).  A much smaller picture than On the Thames, it is displayed earlier in the exhibition, but I wish the two had been displayed side-by-side.

Portsmouth Dockyard circa 1877 by James Tissot 1836-1902

Portsmouth Dockyard (c. 1877), by James Tissot.  Oil on canvas, 38.1 by 54.6 cm.  Tate.

By this time, you will need to seek seating and sustenance, but your brain will be fully sparked.  The details in all Tissot’s paintings are extraordinary – really enthralling to observe close-up.  To learn more about a number of the Tissot oils in the show, see my posts:

Tissot in the U.K.:  London, at the Tate

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

Tissot in the U.K.: Northern England.

There is a great deal more to “Impressionists in London” than James Tissot, of course, and more than one visit is necessary to take in works by Monet – including a group of his Houses of Parliament series – Pissarro, Sisley, Alphonse Legros, sculptor Aimé-Jules Dalou, André Derain, and others.  But if you love Tissot’s work and want to learn more about him, see this show if you can, and let me know what you think.

The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870 – 1904),” November 2, 2017 – May 7, 2018.

Tate Britain

See “James Tissot, the Englishman,” by Cyrille Sciama, Curator of the 19th century collections at the Musée d’arts de Nantes, in the exhibition catalogue.

My gratitude to Alexandra Epps and Dr. Caroline Corbeau-Parsons

for their kindness during my visits to the exhibition.

© 2018 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. 

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

Related posts:

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

James Tissot is now in Italy!

 

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.

The Company He Kept: James Tissot’s Friends

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “The Company He Kept: James Tissot’s Friends.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/the-company-he-kept-james-tissots-friends/. <Date viewed.>

 

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.

Oxford Portraits

Chichester Fortescue

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

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

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Ouida

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

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

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

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

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

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Louise Jopling

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

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

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Berthe Morisot, by Édouard Manet

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

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

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

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

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Sir Julius Benedict

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Self-Portrait, Giuseppe Di Nittis

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

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

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George Adolphus Storey

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

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

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

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

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

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Sir Charles Wyndham

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Sir Henry Irving

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

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

© 2017 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

Related posts:

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

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

James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71

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

James Tissot and Alfred Stevens

James Tissot: Portraits of the Artist

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library

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

James Tissot’s “Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson” (c. 1872)

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. James Tissot’s “Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson” (c. 1872). The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/james-tissots-miss-sydney-milner-gibson-c-1872/. <Date viewed.>

 

The memory of an English gentlewoman painted by James Tissot survives in the large portrait he was commissioned to paint of her by his young friend, Thomas Gibson Bowles (1841 – 1922).

After the horrors of the Franco-Prussian War and its bloody aftermath, the Paris Commune, Tissot arrived in London in May or June, 1871 with less than one hundred francs but with numerous British friends including Tommy Bowles.

Bowles had founded a new Society magazine, Vanity Fair, which débuted on November 14, 1868.  By September 1869, Tommy Bowles was paying Tissot to provide caricatures for his magazine.  He initially paid Tissot ten guineas for four drawings, but when circulation skyrocketed within a few weeks, he increased Tissot’s compensation to eight pounds for each drawing.

When Tissot moved to London in 1871, Bowles, who was living at Cleeve Lodge, Queen’s Gate, near Hyde Park, let his friend use his rented apartment in Palace Chambers at 88 St. James’s Street.  Tissot sold caricatures to Vanity Fair and painted on commission.

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 Susannah Bowles, a servant.  Tommy was an adorable little boy, and his stepmother, Arethusa Susannah (1814 – 1885), a Society hostess who was the only child of Sir Thomas Gery Cullum (1777 – 1855) of Hardwick House, Suffolk, insisted that he be raised with his father’s family of four sons and two daughters.

Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson (September 28, 1849 – September 30, 1880), c. 1872, by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tommy’s favorite half-sister was Sydney Milner-Gibson, nearly eight years younger, and in 1871, when Sydney was 22, he commissioned Tissot to paint her portrait.  Some scholars deduce it was a late 21st-birthday gift, and that milestone may well have been the reason for the commission.  It may also have provided the perfect opportunity for Bowles to help Tissot establish himself in the London art world.

Portrait 2, best one to use on blogAt 50 by 39.02 in. (127.0 by 99.1 cm), the portrait of Sydney is much larger than the 1870 portrait that Bowles commissioned Tissot to paint of his dashing friend Gus Burnaby (Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, 1842 – 1885), a captain in the privileged Royal Horse Guards, the cavalry regiment that protected the monarch.  [Burnaby’s portrait, at the National Portrait Gallery, London, measures just 19.5 by 23.5 in./49.5 by 59.7 cm).]

Since Sydney Milner-Gibson was the granddaughter of a baronet, the portrait commission would have been a real coup for a French artist little known in London.

 

Two short letters written by James Tissot about this portrait were discovered in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1992.  The first, to Susannah Milner-Gibson during the winter of 1871-72, reveals that Tissot arranged the initial sittings with Miss Milner-Gibson through her mother, who had been educated in a French convent and spent much time in Paris.  The second, written on March 13, 1872, is to the young lady herself, as the frustrated artist attempted to arrange time to finish the London living room setting in time for the portrait to be displayed at the imminent Royal Academy Exhibition.  But the picture was not exhibited then, or ever during Tissot’s lifetime.  [It was, however, included in a Tissot exhibition which toured five cities in Japan from March to September, 1988.]

In 1880, the unmarried Sydney died of enteric fever* – typhoid – at Hawstead, in Suffolk outside Bury St. Edmunds, two days after her thirty-first birthday.

Tommy Bowles named his first daughter after her:  Sydney (1880 – 1963), later Lady Redesdale, who was the mother of the famous Mitford sisters.

Moyses Hall Museum.

Moyses Hall Museum. (Photo: R. Zuercher)

Sydney Milner-Gibson’s younger brother, George Gery Milner Gibson, died unmarried in 1921 and bequeathed most of the family portraits to the Borough of St. Edmundsbury.

From 1923 to 1959, Sydney’s portrait was displayed in the town library, and later at the Art Gallery.

It was displayed at the Clock Museum, Angel Corner, in Bury St. Edmunds from 1989 to 1992, and then at the Manor House Museum until it was closed in 2006.

Since 2012, the painting, which was valued at £1.8 million and cannot be sold, has been displayed at Moyse’s Hall Museum.

James Tissot’s portrait of Sydney Milner-Gibson currently is displayed in the Edwardson Room first floor gallery, where I recently saw it after a quick train ride from Cambridge.

Tissot captured the sweet, reticent personality and awkwardness of Tommy Bowles’ beloved little sister.  Every detail of her portrait is beautifully painted, from the reflection of her hairstyle in the mirror behind her to the gown and its ruffles, and the vase of flowers on the right.

Portrait of Mlle. L.L. (Young Lady in a Red Jacket), February 1864, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 48 13/16 by 39 3/8 in. (124 by 99.5 cm). Museé d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

At the very least, the display of Sydney Milner-Gibson’s portrait at the Royal Academy exhibition would have been Tissot’s entrée into the lucrative world of aristocratic British portraiture dominated by his friend John Everett Millais.

But had Miss Milner-Gibson been a more attractive, confident and stylish young woman – and had Tissot had time to finish her portrait in time for the Royal Academy exhibition that year – no doubt this picture would be more well-known.

Perhaps it might have created a sensation, as did Portrait of Mlle. L.L. (Young Lady in a Red Jacket), which Tissot painted in Paris in February 1864 and exhibited at the Salon that year.

You can view a photograph of Sydney by cutting and pasting this link into your browser:  http://www.burypastandpresent.org.uk/bg/BRO_K505_2992.jpg.

Sydney Milner-Gibson appears in my novel, The Hammock, with Tommy Bowles as James Tissot paints her portrait in 1872.  Click the Amazon link below to immerse yourself in their world!

Note:*  Previously, scholars reported that Sydney Milner-Gibson died of tuberculosis.  However, a copy of Sydney’s death certificate was sent to me by reader Adam Mead of Bristol, U.K.  Adam blogs on the Milner-Gibson family at https://milnergibson.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/the-milner-gibsons/.  Thank you, Adam!

 

Related posts:

1869: Tissot meets “the irresistible” Tommy Bowles, founder of British Vanity Fair

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

Paris, June 1871

London, June 1871

Tissot in the U.K.: Cambridgeshire, Oxford & Bury St. Edmunds

©  2014 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. 

CH377762

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library

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

 

 

Artistic intimates: Tissot’s patrons among his friends & colleagues

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “Artistic intimates:  Tissot’s patrons among his friends & colleagues.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/artistic-intimates-tissots-patrons-among-his-friends-colleagues/. <Date viewed.>

 

The wealth of contemporary collectors of James Tissot’s oil paintings gives an idea of the monetary value of his paintings, but Tissot’s work also was esteemed by his friends.

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 and children) acknowledged him.  Tissot, at 33, was famous in Paris.  Tommy, a handsome and mischievous 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.

By September 1869, Tommy Bowles was paying Tissot to provide caricatures of prominent men for Vanity Fair.  Tommy, who gave himself a salary of five guineas a week, initially paid Tissot ten guineas for four drawings.  Within a few weeks he increased Tissot’s compensation to eight pounds for each drawing:  circulation had skyrocketed.

One of Tommy Bowles’ closest friends was the dashing Gus Burnaby (Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, 1842 – 1885), a captain in the privileged Royal Horse Guards, the cavalry regiment that protected the monarch.  Gus, a member of the Prince of Wales’ set, had suggested the name, Vanity Fair, lent Bowles half of the necessary £200 in start-up funding, and then volunteered to go to Spain to chronicle his adventures for the satirical magazine.

Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1870), by James Tissot. 19.5 by 23.5 in/49.5 by 59.7 cm. National Portrait Gallery, London. (Photo: Wikipedia)

In 1870, Tommy Bowles, now 29, commissioned James Tissot to paint a small portrait of Burnaby.  Tissot presented Gus in his “undress” uniform as a captain in the 3rd Household Cavalry – and as an elegant gentleman in a relaxed male conversation.  The painting was purchased by London’s National Portrait Gallery from Bowles’ son (and Burnaby’s godson), George, in 1933.

Sydney Milner-Gibson (1872), by James Tissot.  (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

From the time he was a little boy, Tommy Bowles’ stepmother, Arethusa Susannah, a Society hostess who was the daughter of Sir Thomas Gery Cullum of Hardwick House, Suffolk, insisted that he be raised with his natural father’s family of four sons and two daughters.  Tommy’s favorite half-sister was Sydney Milner-Gibson, eight years younger, and in 1872, when Sydney was in her early twenties, he commissioned James Tissot to paint her portrait.

In 1880, the unmarried Sydney died of enteric fever* – typhoid – at Hawstead, in Suffolk outside Bury St. Edmunds, two days before her thirty-first birthday.  Her younger brother, George Gery Milner Gibson, died unmarried in 1921 and bequeathed most of the family portraits to the Borough of St. Edmundsbury.  Tissot’s portrait of Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson, valued at £1.8 million, is on display at Moyse’s Hall Museum as part of a display in the Edwardson Room first floor gallery in an exhibit on Victorian costume.

Note:*  Previously, scholars reported that Sydney Milner-Gibson died of tuberculosis.  However, a copy of Sydney’s death certificate was sent to me by reader Adam Mead of Bristol, U.K.  Adam blogs on the Milner-Gibson family at https://milnergibson.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/the-milner-gibsons/.  Thank you, Adam!

Portrait de M…B (Portrait of Mrs. B, Mrs. Thomas Gibson Bowles, 1876). (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

In late 1875, Tommy Bowles married Jessica Evans Gordon (1852 – 1887).  Her father, Major-General Charles Evans Gordon, was Governor of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital Netley, the largest military hospital in its day with 138 wards housing about one  thousand beds.  In the year following their marriage, Tissot made an informal portrait of her wearing her morning cap.  After Jessica’s death at 35, Tommy wrote, “So bright and joyous, so gentle and gracious a spirit as hers…She was as near perfect wife and mother as may be.”

Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue, 1st Baron Carlingford (1823-1898), by James Tissot (1871). Oil on canvas, 74 ½ by 47 ½ in. (189.2 by 120.7 cm). University of Oxford. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Frances, Countess Waldegrave (1821 – 1879) was 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 John Everett 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 had 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.  The portrait was given to the University of Oxford by sitter’s nephew, Francis Fortescue Urquhart (1868-1934), Fellow of Balliol College, about 1904.  It was re-hung in the North School in 1957.

Tea (1872), by James Tissot. Oil on wood, 26 by 18 7/8 in. (66 by 47.9 cm). Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Tissot’s great friend, Edgar Degas owned a pencil study for his 1872 painting, TeaOne of Tissot’s eighteenth-century costume paintings, it was calculated to appeal to British collectors once he had moved to London in mid-1871, following the Franco-Prussian War and its bloody aftermath, the Paris Commune.

Louise Jopling (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

British painter Louise Jopling (1843 – 1933) had 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 once living
in 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, extraordinarily like the Duke [then, Prince] of Teck.  He was always well groomed, and had nothing of artistic carelessness either in his dress or demeanor.  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 who, to his great grief, died after he had known her but a brief time.”

James_Tissot_-_Algeron_Moses_Marsden

Portrait of Algernon Moses Marsden (1877), by James Tissot. 19 by 29 in./48.26 by  73.66 cm. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Algernon Moses Marsden (1847 – 1920) was a more colorful character than James Tissot’s urbane portrait of him suggests.  [To learn more about him, see Who was Algernon Moses Marsden?]  He may have been Tissot’s picture dealer for a short time, though there is no information on any of Tissot’s paintings that Marsden may have sold.  But Tissot’s In the Conservatory (Rivals), c. 1875, a masterpiece that was deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art at Christie’s, New York in October, 2013 [see For sale: In the Conservatory (Rivals), c. 1875, by James Tissot], is listed in the auction catalogue as having originally been “(probably) with Algernon Moses Marsden, London.”  The catalogue suggests that Marsden modeled for one of the figures in this painting:  “The dark-haired young man with moustache in the teatime scene looks very similar to Marsden, whose portrait Tissot painted in 1877.”  Marsden poses in the elegant new studio of Tissot’s home in St. John’s Wood [the setting often is erroneously identified as Marsden’s study].  This portrait, just a bit larger than Tissot’s 1870 portrait of Gus Burnaby, remained in the Marsden family for nearly a century.  Algernon Marsden at age 30 appears sophisticated and well-to-do, but he was a high-living scoundrel.  Tissot’s portrait, which captures the man in his moment of youth and apparent success, was sold at Sotheby’s, London in 1971 for $4,838/£2,000.  In 1983, it was sold at Christie’s, London for $65,677/£45,000.  [Hammer prices.]

Algernon Moses Marsden’s aunt – Julia White, was married to Edward Fox White, of 13 Belsize Park Gardens, Hampstead, who was a “dealer in works of art.”  Tissot’s portrait of him [measuring 29 by 21 in. (73.66 by 53.34 cm); click here and scroll down to see it, http://tonyseymour.com/pages/gomes-silva] was passed down through the family until 1988, when it was sold at Sotheby’s for £50,000/$ 92,205 (Hammer price).

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

James_Tissot,_The_Sphinx

Study for “Le Sphinx” (Woman in an Interior, c. 1885), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 43 3/4 by 27 in. (111.1 by 68.6 cm). Private Collection. (Photo:  Wiki)

Around 1885, Tissot gave Study for ‘Le Sphinx’ (Woman in an Interior) to Léonce Bénédite.

This image from TIssot’s La Femme à Paris series, which remained with the Bénédite family until it was sold around 1972, actually was a portrait of Louise Riesener (1860 – 1944).  The same year, Tissot planned to marry Mlle. Riesener, the granddaughter of portrait painter Henri Riesener (1767 – 1828), a daughter of the painter Léon Riesener (1808-1878), and a cousin of painter Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863).  Along with her sister Rosalie, she belonged to the same artistic social set as Berthe Morisot, for whom they modeled.

Unfortunately, one day when the forty-nine-year-old Tissot removed his overcoat in the front hall, his appearance struck his twenty-five-year-old fiancée as old-fashioned.  Louise suddenly decided that she had lost her desire to marry.

In 2005, Study for “Le Sphinx” sold at Sotheby’s, New York for $ 650,000 USD/£ 364,023 GBP (Hammer price).

July (Speciman of a Portrait, c. 1878), by James Tissot. Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio. Image courtesy of www.jamestissot.org

July (Speciman of a Portrait, 1878), by James Tissot. Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio. Image courtesy of http://www.jamestissot.org

Tissot exhibited July (Speciman of a Portrait), along with nine other paintings, at London’s Grosvenor Gallery – a sumptuous, invitation-only showcase for contemporary art in New Bond Street – in 1878, the year it was painted.  The painting is one in a series representing months of the year, and the figure is modeled by Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882).  The setting for July was the Royal Albion Hotel near the shore of Viking Bay in Ramsgate, a seaside resort on the Kent coast, seventy-eight miles southeast of London.  At some point, another artist painted a frizzy red hairstyle (probably considered more up-to-date) on Kathleen Newton; In 1980, this original version was donated to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio at the bequest of Noah L. Butkin.

Tissot had painted a copy, showing Kathleen Newton wearing a tight blonde bun.  Tissot gave this version of the painting to Emile Simon, administrator of the Théâtre l’Ambigu-Comique at 2, Boulevard Saint Martin, Paris from 1882 to 1884.  Simon sold it as La Réverie in the five-day sale of his collection at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris in 1905.  In 2002, this version of Seaside (also known as July, La Réverie, or Ramsgate Harbour), signed and inscribed: “J.J. Tissot a l’am(i) E. Simon en bon Souvenir” (on the horizontal bar of the window frame), was sold at Christie’s, London for $ 2,161,740 USD/£ 1,400,000 GBP (Hammer price).

Portrait of Mlle. L.L. (Young Lady in a Red Jacket) (February 1864), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 48 13/16 by 39 3/8 in. (124 by 99.5 cm.) Museé d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikipaintings)

Other art experts whose collections included a Tissot oil painting include the wife of Paris Temps art critic M. Thiébault-Sisson.  Mme. Thiébault-Sisson sold Tissot’s lovely Portrait of Mademoiselle L. L. (1864) at a Paris auction in 1907.  The picture is now on display at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

L’Ambitieuse (The Political Woman, 1883-1885), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 73 1/2 by 56 by 5 in. (186.69 by 142.24 by 12.7 cm). Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tissot’s L’Ambitieuse (1883-1885), or The Political Woman, was owned by the American Impressionist painter William Merritt Chase (1849 –1916).  In 1909, Chase donated the painting to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.  It is not on view.

©  2014 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. 

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

 

James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “James Tissot and The Artists’ Brigade, 1870-71.” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/james-tissot-and-the-artists-brigade-1870-71/. <Date viewed.>

 

James Tissot enlisted in the National Guard of the Seine, the Fourth Company of the Eighteenth Battalion, in 1855 – as soon as he had arrived in Paris at age 19.  (His father might have purchased an exemption from military service for him, but did not.)

When France declared war on Prussia, Tissot soon became a Franc-tireur.

A Franc-tireur was a sharpshooter, or sniper, fighting independently of the regular army.   They were also referred to as tirailleurs.

French soldier with a chassepôt rifle (Photo:  Wikimedia.org)

But the French army needed every man and organized the Volunteers of the Seine by August 15, 1870.  The Éclaireurs (Scouts) of the Seine was an elite unit of Franc-tireurs founded to defend Paris.  James Tissot, the elegant painter of the avenue de l’Impératrice, became a sharpshooter.  In addition to his rifle, Tissot also carried a small sketchbook (17 by 10 cm or about 6 3/4 by 3 7/8”) In the field.  Click here to see Tissot’s drawing of the Éclaireurs.

When not on duty, the Éclaireurs, like other National Guard units, could live at home.  On Friday, September 9, British war correspondent Tommy Bowles [Thomas Gibson Bowles, 1841 – 1922, who founded the British Society magazine Vanity Fair in 1868] was surveying the scene of Garde Mobile squads drilling or wandering around along the avenue de l’Impératrice [near Tissot’s sumptuous villa at No. 64], when he encountered James Tissot, in the blue uniform of the National Guard.

On October 21, 1870, 62 of the Éclaireurs of the Seine – “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.

As unbelievable as it may be that the refined, cultured painter James Tissot became a sniper during the Franco-Prussian War, he was hardly alone.  Others who served with Tissot in the Artists’ Brigade at the Battle of Malmaison on October 21, 1870 included:

Paul Baudry (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry (1828 –1886).  Like many artistic children from the provinces in 19th-century France, Baudry went to Paris with a grant from his municipality to pay his tuition fees.  He began studying painting at 16, in 1844, and enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1845, studying under French Neoclassical painter Michel Martin Drolling (1789 – 1851.)  Baudry made five successive attempts at the coveted Prix de Rome, finally sharing the award with William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 –1905) in 1850; his winning painting was Zenobia Found by Shepherds on the Banks of the Araxes (c. 1848).

Zenobia found. Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry, c. 1848

Zenobia Found by Shepherds on the Banks of the Araxes (c. 1848), by Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry  (Photo: Wikipedia)

Among the works Baudry sent from Rome to Paris was Fortune and the Child (1853–54, Paris, Musée d’Orsay), inspired by Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love (Galleria Borghese, Rome).

At the Salon in 1857, he exhibited The Martyrdom of a Vestal Virgin and The Child, which were purchased for the Luxembourg, while his Leda, St. John the Baptist, and a Portrait of Beul both won him first prize.  In 1861, Baudry exhibited his only historical painting, Charlotte Corday after the murder of Marat, and in 1862, he painted The Wave and the Pearl.

 

 

 

The Wave and the Pearl (1862), by Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In 1865 or 1866, Baudry began work at the Opéra Garnier (the Paris Opera house under construction), painting the ceilings of the Grand Foyer with scenes from the history of music — more than thirty paintings that would occupy him for a decade.

Garnier's Paris Opéra, The Grand Foyer With Ce...

Garnier’s Paris Opéra, The Grand Foyer With Ceiling Paintings by Paul Baudry (Photo: profzucker)

Still, Baudry found time to paint portraits of eminent men such as the architect of the new opera house, Charles Garnier (1825 – 1898), in 1868.

Charles Garnier (1868), by Paul Baudry (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

At the Battle of Malmaison in October, 1870, the 42-year-old Baudry was seen standing guard on the ramparts (as was Bouguereau).

Louis-Eugène Leroux (1833 – 1905) studied with the distinguished history painter François-Édouard Picot (1786 – 1868).  Leroux was described at the time as a “young artist of great promise, standing over six feet high, and as handsome as Apollo.”  At the Salon in 1870, his painting, The New Born Baby (Breton Interior), won medal and was purchased for the Luxembourg Museum by the French government.  At the Battle of Malmaison, the 37-year-old Leroux was severely wounded in both legs and taken prisoner by the Prussians.

Jules Ferdinand Jacquemart (1837 – 1880), considered the undisputed genius of etching, was the son of Albert Jacquemart (1808 – 1875), an amateur artist, botanical illustrator, collector and author.  Jules executed some of his finest etchings for his father’s books, The History of Porcelain and The Gems and Jewels of the Crown.  In 1859, he made an etching of Japanese and Chinese artifacts and, with a few like-minded artists, he founded a society to study and promote Japanese culture, all the rage after the signing of the first commercial treaty between Japan and America in 1854, when more than 200 years of Japanese seclusion came to an end.  Also in 1859, Jacquemart also began contributing engravings for the Gazette des beaux-arts illustrating objets d’art from the Louvre and from prominent collectors such the Rothschilds.  In the 1860s Jules Jacquemart was commissioned by the Louvre to produce sixty etchings of the French crown jewels.

Engraving by Jules-Ferdinand Jacquemart (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Engraving by Jules-Ferdinand Jacquemart (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The Lover (1869), by Étienne Prosper Berne-Bellecour. Brooklyn Museum. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Étienne Prosper Berne-Bellecour (French, 1838 – 1910), studied painting under Félix-Joseph Barrias (1822 – 1907), Emile Signol (1804 – 1892) and, like Leroux, under François-Édouard Picot.  Berne-Bellecour made his Salon début in 1864 with Low Road on the Coast of Normandy (1864).  In 1869, he painted The Lover.  Berne-Bellecour was described by a contemporary as being “tall and well-proportioned [with] a fine, military bearing, and might easily be an officer of the legions he depicts.”  He was 32 during the Battle of Malmaison and made quick pen and ink sketches of scenes during the lulls in fighting.  He later gained a reputation as a military painter with works like The Tirailleurs de la Seine at the Battle of Rueil-Malmaison, 21st October 1870 (1875), in which he depicted Leroux wounded, Jacquet firing a last shot, and Cuvelier supported by his comrades.

Jehan Georges Vibert (Photo:  Wikipaintings.org)

Jehan Georges Vibert (1840 – 1902), was born in Paris and entered the École des Beaux-Arts at age 16, in early 1857.  He  studied under Félix-Joseph Barrias (1822 – 1907) and then, for six years, under François-Édouard Picot.  Vibert painted mythological and religious subjects including The Death of Narcissus and Christian Martyrs in the Lion Pit, as well as subjects such as Young Girl Arranging Flowers (1862).  Vibert made his Salon début in 1863 with The Siesta and Repentance, then won his first medal at the 1864 Salon for Narcissus Transformed into a Flower – though its nudity caused a scandal.  At the Salon in 1866, his Daphnis and Chloë (1865, Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia) received harsh criticism; one critic advised him, “Take on a live model.”  Beginning in 1860 – 61, Vibert traveled a number of times to Spain with a young Spanish artist, Eduardo Zamacois * (c. 1841 –1871), who was in Paris studying with the illustrious Ernest Meissonier.  The two friends collaborated on their 1866 Salon entry, Entrance of the Toreros.  A critic noted that this painting was “new and interesting with lively bold coloring,” and around 1867, Vibert began painting less serious subjects, such as The Barber of Ambulart.  He won a financial prize at the 1867 Paris International Exposition as well as another medal in 1868, when he painted a Napoleonic picture, Convent under Arms.

The Naturalists (1870), by Jehan Georges Vibert. (Photo: flickr)

At the Salon in 1870, he exhibited Gulliver Fastened to the Ground and Surrounded by the Army.  He traveled to the East, returning to France just before war broke out in 1870, when he joined the sharp-shooters in the Éclaireurs of the Seine.  For suffering a wound at the Battle of Malmaison in October 1870, Vibert was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor.  Vibert was an out-sized personality with diverse interests including play-writing and cooking, and he had a penchant for merriment and boasting.  It is curious that although Vibert only received a slight wound in the knee, the reserved James Tissot, who was wounded in the same battle, did not receive the Legion of Honor.  [*Meanwhile, Vibert’s friend Eduardo Zamacois traveled back to Madrid and died there of pneumonia on January 14, 1871.]

Gustave Jean Jacquet (1846 – 1909), born in Paris, was one of Bouguereau’s best students.  He made his Salon début at 19, in 1865, with Modesty and Sadness.  He gained immediate recognition, and received further notice with his Salon entry in 1867, Call to Arms in the Sixteenth Century.  By 1867, a prominent art critic wrote of him, “Behold an artist, unknown today, who will be celebrated tomorrow.”  Jacquet was a fine horseback rider, and his studio was crammed with a museum-quality collection of ancient arms and armor in his studio.  His painting Sortie de Lansquenets was purchased by the French government for the royal Château de Blois in the Loire Valley.  In 1868, he won a third class medal with a military painting set in the 1700s, Sortie d’armée au XVI siècle.  When the war broke out, Jacquet, 24, became a sharpshooter in the same company as James Tissot, fighting in the Battle of Malmaison on October 21, 1870.  Jacquet reportedly went into the battlefield with some of the weapons and armor he kept in his studio, and he nearly lost his life trying to rescue Leroux, a rival painter who was seriously wounded and taken prisoner by the Prussians.  [I am indebted to Kara Lysandra Ross for her recent, fascinating article on Jacquet:  click here  to read it.]

Girl in a Riding Habit, by Gustave Jean Jacquet (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Louis-Alfred-Joseph Cuvelier (? – 1870), the equestrian sculptor, was Edgar Degas’ great friend from the 1860s.  His work included small bronzes such as Jockey (1869, 19 by 15 by 11 in./48.3 by 38.1 by 27.9 cm).  Cuvelier, full of innovation and promise, was a source of inspiration to Degas.  He was killed at the Battle of Malmaison on October 21, 1870.  It is said that Leroux witnessed Cuvelier’s death, and that Tissot’s drawing, The First Killed that I Saw (1870), was of Cuvelier – much to Degas’ disgust.

Le premier homme tué que j'ai vu (Souvenir du siège de Paris) (The First Killed I Saw (Souvenir of the Siege of Paris)), by James Tissot.  Courtesy www.jamestissot.org

Le premier homme tué que j’ai vu (Souvenir du siège de Paris)/(The First Killed I Saw (Souvenir of the Siege of Paris)), by James Tissot. Courtesy http://www.jamestissot.org

Five days later, Berthe Morisot’s mother wrote to another daughter, Yves:  “Monsieur Degas was so affected by the death of one of his friends, the sculptor Cuvelier, that he was impossible.  He and Manet almost came to blows arguing over the methods of defense and the use of the National Guard, though each of them was ready to die to save the country.”

Tommy Bowles left Paris on February 8, 1871 (a week after Paris surrendered to the Prussians on January 28) and returned to London, where he would see James Tissot by June – without living through the horrors that Parisians suffered in the meantime.

The Tirailleurs de la Seine at the Battle of Rueil-Malmaison, 21st October 1870 (1875), by  Étienne-Prosper Berne-Bellecour.  (Oil on canvas,  103x203 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

The Tirailleurs de la Seine at the Battle of Rueil-Malmaison, 21st October 1870 (1875), by Étienne-Prosper Berne-Bellecour (1838-1910). Oil on canvas, 103 by 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

© 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. 

CH377762

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

 

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

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. James Tissot & Tommy Bowles Brave the Siege Together: October 1870. The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/james-tissot-tommy-bowles-brave-the-siege-together-october-1870/. <Date viewed.>

 

Tommy Bowles [Thomas Gibson Bowles, 1841 – 1922)] at 29 had met the challenge of establishing the Society magazine, Vanity Fair, which was now a profitable business.  On Tuesday, September 6, 1870, he was cruising in his yacht up the Southampton Water, fishing on the Cornwall coast, when he went ashore and read about Napoléon III’s surrender in the newspapers.  A republic had been established, and with or without the emperor, France was at war with Prussia.  Tommy took the first train to London, obtained a passport, and soon was busy in Paris as a war correspondent for the Morning Post.  “I know a considerable number of people here,” he wrote, “but I find that they have one and all fled.  Lodging is naturally extraordinarily cheap.”  He found a “splendid suite of apartments – some ten white-and-gold rooms” with a long balcony overlooking the boulevard, for just six francs a day.

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, 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 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.]

Ten days later, on September 19, 200,000 Prussian troops encircled Paris in attempt to starve the French into submission.  No food could enter the city; all communication between the French capital and the outside world was cut off.  The Siege of Paris had begun.

French soldiers in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71 (Wikimedia.org)

By September 28, Paris residents were erecting a barricade on the straight, short and splendidly wide avenue de l’Impératrice (Empress Avenue), which led to the recreational grounds at the Bois de Boulogne.  It soon would be renamed avenue Uhrich after the hero of the Siege of Strasbourg, General Uhrich.

On October 3, Tommy Bowles recorded an unexpected guest in his luxurious rented lodgings:

France

James Tissot, self-portrait, 1865 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A friend [James Tissot] has turned up in a promiscuous, beleaguered sort of way, and has come to share my lodgings and to relieve with his society the tedium of waiting for the bombs.  We neither of us have got any money left, but we propose to support each other by our mutual credit, to fish each other out of the prison that yawns in the mouth of every Garde Nationale, 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 – and strong survival instincts.  After nine days together, on October 12, Tommy noted:

“We are all being put upon rations, and are to share and share alike the meat left, according to the number in each family.  My friend and I have returned ourselves as two families, and if our supply runs short we mean to make a touching appeal for our starving children and wives.  We have also brought our birthdays into the present month, and we expect our friends in Paris to give us at least a leg of mutton each as presents.”

Elihu B. Washburne (Wikimedia.org)

By that same day, October 12, the military operations had driven even Elihu Washburne (1816 – 1887), the United States Minister to France, out of his house at No. 75, at the end of the former avenue de l’Impératrice near the Porte Dauphine, the gate in the city wall opening into the Bois de Boulogne.  The avenue was filled with troops.

The lush woods of the Bois de Boulogne, planted only fifteen years ago when Napoléon III and Baron Haussmann began turning Paris into the showpiece of Europe, was nothing but pointed stumps for a hundred yards.  The gilded ornamental gates of the Porte Dauphine at the western end of the avenue had been removed and thrown off on the ground, replaced by a rough wooden drawbridge leading to a thirty-foot mound of earth.  On it stood two rows of palisades, and from openings in the rampart, cannons pointed down upon any Prussian troops attempting to enter Paris from the west.

By October 22, the eastern end was blocked — entry from the city to what was now called the avenue Uhrich was cut off by a barricade at the Arc de Triomphe.

But by then, James Tissot was armed and fighting on the front line – as well as saving lives as a Red Cross stretcher-bearer.

© 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. 

Oil on canvas

L’Attaque (Attack!) by Étienne-Prosper Berne-Bellecour (1838 — 1910). (Photo: Wikipedia)

 

CH377762

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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

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

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 calm before the storm: Courbet & Tissot in Paris, January to June, 1870

To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. The calm before the storm: Courbet & Tissot in Paris, January to June, 1870. The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/the-calm-before-the-storm-paris-january-to-june-1870/. <Date viewed.>

 

At the Salon in 1870, Gustave Courbet earned universal praise for his two paintings, The Stormy Sea (also called The Wave) and The Cliffs at Etretat after the storm.  Purchasers flocked to Courbet’s studio:  in April he sold almost forty pictures for a total of about 52,000 francs, and he received additional commissions from ten collectors.

The Stormy Sea (also called The Wave), 1870, by Gustave Courbet. Courtesy www.gustavecourbet.org

The Stormy Sea (also called The Wave), 1870, by Gustave Courbet. Courtesy http://www.gustavecourbet.org

The Cliffs at Etretat after the storm, 1870, by Gustave Courbet. Courtesy www.gustavecourbet.org

The Cliffs at Etretat after the storm (1870), by Gustave Courbet. Courtesy http://www.gustavecourbet.org

In June, 1870, the minister of Beaux-Arts in the cabinet of Napoléon III’s reform-minded new premier, Émile Ollivier, offered Courbet the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration in France.  But Courbet proudly refused it, in a letter that was published throughout the country and offered sentiments such as these:

My opinions as a citizen forbid me to accept an award that belongs essentially to a monarchical regime.  My principles reject this decoration of the Legion of Honor which you have bestowed on me in my absence.  At no time, in no circumstances, for no reason whatever, would I have accepted it.  I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me:  ‘He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any regime except the regime of liberty.’

Courbet angered the Establishment but found himself very popular with those against the Emperor’s regime:

I am overwhelmed with compliments [for refusing the cross], I have received three hundred flattering letters such as no man in the world has ever received before.  In everyone’s opinion I am the greatest man in France…I have so many commissions [for pictures] at present that I cannot supply them.

Courbet had “taken nothing from the family purse for more than twenty years.”  As for Tissot’s friends Degas and Manet, at ages 35 and 38, they were still struggling and still being funded by their parents.  Tissot had made it in Paris on his own from the time he was 19, and was, at 33, so prosperous that he could continue to enjoy the lark of occasionally supplying his British friend Tommy Bowles with caricatures of prominent men for Vanity Fair, the new Society magazine that Tommy pitched as “A Weekly Show of Political, Social and Literary Wares.”  It débuted on November 14, 1868 at sixpence a copy, and its most popular feature was the weekly full-page, color cartoon of some man-of-the-moment that first appeared in February 1869.

Among people of this generation, especially in Paris, it was fashionable to mock tradition and ridicule authority or even oneself.  In 1869, there was a fad for the Grimatiscope, a patented French viewer for creating grotesquely, humorously distorted images from regular photographs.  Portraits of eminent people, friends or oneself could be squeezed into caricatures.  As Degas said, “a true Parisian…knows how to take a joke”; in contributing political cartoons to Vanity Fair, Tissot certainly seemed in his element.  He contributed his work under the pseudonym “Coïdé.”

Émile Ollivier, Vanity Fair, January 15, 1870 by “Coïdé” (James Tissot) . Caption reads “The Parliamentary Empire.”  (Wikimedia.org)

One of Tommy Bowles’ closest friends was the dashing Gus Burnaby (Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, 1842 – 1885), a captain in the privileged Royal Horse Guards, the cavalry regiment that protected the monarch.  At 28 and already larger-than-life at six feet four inches, Gus Burnaby was looking for more adventure than his hot-air balloon ascents could provide.  Gus, a member of the Prince of Wales’ set, had suggested the name, Vanity Fair, lent Bowles half of the necessary £200 in start-up funding, and then volunteered to go to Spain to chronicle his adventures for the satirical magazine.  Queen lsabella II had been forced to abdicate her throne; the country, under the rule of a provisional government, was on the eve of a revolution.  All Burnaby’s letters, which were first published on December 19, 1868 and continued through 1869, were titled “Out of Bounds” and signed “Convalescent” (he suffered intermittent bouts of digestive ailments and depression throughout his life).

But Bowles’ staff writers were perhaps, too exceptionally trenchant: Vanity Fair – steadily increasing in circulation and beginning to turn a profit — had gained a reputation for unabashed impudence.  “These boys,” Bowles later observed, “were continually getting me into hot water.”  Around 1870, Burnaby ceased his involvement with Vanity Fair at the command of His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge (1819 – 1904), Field Marshal Commander-in-Chief of the British Army who supposedly rebuked an intelligent underling by crying, “Brains? I don’t believe in brains! You haven’t any, I know, Sir!”

The Duke of Cambridge, Vanity Fair, April 23, 1870, by Alfred Thompson. Caption reads: “A military difficulty.” (Wikimedia.org)

In 1870, Tommy Bowles, now 29, commissioned James Tissot to paint a small portrait of Burnaby.  Tissot presented Gus in his “undress” uniform as a captain in the 3rd Household Cavalry – and as an elegant gentleman in a relaxed male conversation.

Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1870), by James Tissot. Oil on panel, 19.5 by 23.5 in. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

All the while, Napoléon III was ill with gallstones and prostate trouble, aging and losing his grip on the Empire, but the Princess Mathilde continued to surround herself with all the most vital men in France.  Another young man of talent who had caught her attention, the poet and new playwright François Coppée (1842 – 1908), wrote of his first visits to her:

“She was still in enjoyment – but, alas!  Not for much longer – of all the privileges of her rank of Imperial Highness.  In the sumptuous saloons of her house in the Rue de Courcelles, as also in the pleasant shades of her château at Saint-Gratien, swarmed the official world of the Court, gold-laced generals, ambassadors and ministers covered with orders and ribbons, fair and charming ladies sparking with diamonds, and also, in their sober black coats, the famous writers and artists of the day.  They were all there, or nearly all; at least as many in number as the wonderful pearls in the Princess’ necklace, that famous ornament which was much less precious in her eyes than the intellectual aristocracy which her grace and goodness had succeeded in attracting to her and keeping at her side.”

Was the handsome and self-made James Tissot, whose painting Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens she had purchased out of the Salon just two years ago, one of the Princess Mathilde’s “intellectual aristocrats”?  It is strange, the life Tissot led – an exclusive address and titled patrons in Paris (and an ongoing friendship with that rising paragon of the British Establishment, J.E. Millais) and yet closer friends with the individualistic 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.

James Tissot’s friendship with the rebellious Édouard Manet is not well documented, especially during this period, but Tissot was not a defender worthy of inclusion in Henri Fantin-Latour’s A Studio in the Batignolles (Homage to Manet), exhibited at the Salon in 1870.  It shows Manet surrounded by the writer and critic  Émile Zola, the painters Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Frédéric Bazille, and the sculptor Zacharie Astruc.

English: Henri Fantin-Latour's art

A Studio in the Batignolles (Homage to Manet), by Henri Fantin-Latour.  (Photo: Wikipedia)

Neither was Tissot included in Frédéric Bazille’s 1870 painting, The Artist’s Studio on the rue de la Condamine (which Bazille shared with Renoir from January 1st 1868 to May 15, 1870).  Bazille and Manet stand at the center in this criticism of the Salon, with rejected canvases hung on the studio walls; with them are Renoir, Monet, Astruc and Bazille’s friend Edmond at the piano.

The Artist’s Studio in the rue de la Condmine (1870), by Frédéric Bazille (Wikimedia.org)

Tissot appears to have been content to live well, contribute wicked caricatures of world figures to a slightly subversive London Society magazine, 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 receptions such as those hosted by Princess Mathilde on Fridays and the extremely successful and hospitable painter Alfred Stevens on Wednesdays.  It seems that James Tissot was a peaceable and refined gentleman, truly his own man, with all the advantages and disadvantages that accrue to an individual of independent temperament and means in a circle of talented and passionate associates – and rivals – in a world about to implode.

Related posts:

Tissot’s Last Salon: Paris, 1870

1869: Tissot meets “the irresistible” Tommy Bowles, founder of British Vanity Fair

© 2013 Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

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

Watch my new videos:

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

and

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

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/listings/2013/impressionism-fashion-modernity

CH377762

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

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

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

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

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