Tissot in Quotes

“Our industrial and artistic creations can perish, our morals and our fashions can fall into obscurity, but a picture by M. Tissot will be enough for archaeologists of the future to reconstitute our epoch.”  L’Artiste, 1869, in a review of Tissot’s painting, Young Ladies Looking at Japanese Objects, exhibited at the Paris Salon

“Few classes of society have been more prominent in the city’s defense than artists, who have suffered severely for their devotion.  Three known painters… particularly distinguished themselves at the affair at Malmaison… [including] Tissot [who] was wounded….”  The New York Times, January 29, 1871

[Tissot] “fairly out-Tissoted himself in his studies of character and expression.  [The] truthfulness and delicate perception of the humor of the ‘situation’ [compares to that found] in the novels of Jane Austen, the great painter of the humor of ‘polite society’,”  The Builder, May 3, 1873 in a review of Tissot’s painting Too Early, exhibited at London’s Royal Academy

“Look here, my dear Tissot, no hesitations, no escape.  You positively must exhibit at the Boulevard.  It will do you good, you (for it is a means of showing yourself in Paris from which people said you were running away) and us too.”  Edgar Degas, in a letter to Tissot, 1874

“Tissot, that plagiarist painter, has had the greatest success in England.  Was it not his idea, this ingenious exploiter of English idiocy, to have a studio with a waiting room, where, at all times, there is iced champagne at the disposal of visitors, and around the studio, a garden where, all day long, one can see a footman in silk stockings brushing and shining the shrubbery leaves?”  Edmond de Goncourt’s Journal, November 3, 1874

“We went to see Tissot, who does very pretty things that he sells at high prices; he is living like a king.  We dined there.  He is very nice, a very good fellow, though a little vulgar.  We are on the best of terms; I paid him many compliments, and he really deserves them.”  Berthe Morisot, in an 1875 letter to her sister, Edma Pontillon

“I saw Tissot at the club, he was very nice, very friendly.”  Giuseppe De Nittis in an 1875 letter to his wife, Léontine

“Dined with Jimmy [Whistler]: Tissot, A. Moore and Captain Crabb. Lovely blue and white china — and capital small dinner. General conversation and ideas on art unfettered by principles. Lovely Japanese lacquer.”  Alan S. Cole’s diary, November 16, 1875

“Mr. James Tissot, one of the eccentrics of the Grosvenor school, has sent in eight pictures.  In six or seven of them the leading figure is a girl in a hammock or in a swing, or lying down.  She is always surrounded by green trees and green grass, so green that you have to hunt for the figures, and so clever that you want to have Mr. Tissot sent for that you may call him names for prostituting his talents to a silly affectation of realism.   Pre-Raphaelitism gone mad is the motive power of this wild man of the studio.  Whistler has not quite satisfied us whether he can paint or not; but under Tissot’s eccentricities lurks a laughing giant.”  The New York Times, May 12, 1879

“A discerning critic once rightly said of James Tissot, ‘He is a troubled soul.’  However this may be, there is something of the human soul in his work and that is why he is great, immense, infinite…”  Vincent van Gogh in a letter to his brother, Theo, September 24, 1880

“On the ship [in 1896] I found a very interesting traveller in the person of James Tissot, who was returning to Palestine to continue his wonderful series of illustrations of the Bible, to which he was devoting what remained of his life.  Tissot, a very neatly dressed, elegant figure, with a grey military moustache and beard, always appeared on deck gloved and groomed as if for the boulevard…”  English artist George Percy Jacomb-Hood, MVO (1857-1929), With Brush and Pencil, J. Murray, London, 1925

“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.”  Louise Jopling, Twenty Years of My Life, 1867–1887, London, John Lane, New York, Dodd, Mead, 1925

Young Women looking at Japanese articles, 1869 (oil on canvas) by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902); 70.5×50.2 cm; Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio, USA; Gift of Henry M. Goodyear, M.D. Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library for use in “The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot,” by Lucy Paquette © 2012

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