TISSOT, James
(b. 1836, Nantes, d. 1902, Château de Buillon)

Biography

James (originally Jacques Joseph) Tissot, French painter, printmaker and enamellist. He grew up in a port, an experience reflected in his later paintings set on board ship. He moved to Paris c. 1856 and became a pupil of Louis Lamothe and Hippolyte Flandrin. He made his Salon début in 1859 and continued to exhibit there successfully until he went to London in 1871.

His early paintings exemplify Romantic obsessions with the Middle Ages, while works such as the Meeting of Faust and Marguerite (1861; Paris, Musée d'Orsay) and Marguerite at the Ramparts (1861; untraced) show the influence of the Belgian painter Baron Henri Leys. In the mid-1860s Tissot abandoned these tendencies in favour of contemporary subjects, sometimes with a humorous intent, as in Two Sisters (1864; Paris, Musée du Louvre) and Beating the Retreat in the Tuileries Gardens (1868; private collection). The painting Young Ladies Looking at Japanese Objects (1869; private collection) testifies to his interest in things Oriental, and Picnic (1869; private collection), in which he delved into the period of the Directoire, is perhaps influenced by the Goncourt brothers. Tissot re-created the atmosphere of the 1790s by dressing his characters in historical costume.

After participating in the Franco-Prussian War he stayed for 10 years in London, where he was highly esteemed for his genre scenes (e.g., The Ball on Shipboard). In 1882 he went to Palestine and devoted his life to a series of watercolour drawings illustrating the Bible.



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