James Tissot

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James Tissot: Self-Portrait (Detail), around 1898
Edgar Degas: Portrait of James Tissot , around 1867

James Tissot (actually Jacques Joseph Tissot ; born October 15, 1836 in Nantes , † August 8, 1902 in Buillon ) was a French painter and graphic artist . Known above all for his portraits in Victorian England in the 1870s, the artist devoted himself mainly to religious themes in his late work.


Originally from a wealthy family in Nantes Jacques Joseph Tissot came at the age of 19 years to Paris and began his training as a painter at the École des Beaux-Arts , where he at Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres , Hippolyte Flandrin and Louis Lamothe studied . In Paris, he also met Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet , with whom he had a lifelong friendship. Degas made a portrait of Tissot in 1867. In 1859 he exhibited for the first time in the Salon de Paris . His painting Rencontre de Faust et de Marguerite , shown in the Salon in 1861 , a motif from the tragedy Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , was immediately purchased by the French state for the Musée du Luxembourg and is now in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay . Tissot established himself in the 1860s as a successful painter of the Parisian upper class, but also turned to the representation of live women. His series La Femme a Paris is one of these motifs.

After participating in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, Tissot joined the Paris Commune and was forced to leave France after its suppression. In May 1871 he fled to London, where he settled in St. John's Wood and Anglicized his first name in James. Here he lived from 1876 with his Irish lover Kathleen Newton, a divorced woman with two children, which was against the moral standards in Victorian England . Kathleen Newton became Tissot's muse and model of choice .

Caricature by Otto von Bismarck , 1870

In the 1870s he produced numerous contemporary genre pictures and portraits of the English upper class, with which he enjoyed great success. Under the influence of James McNeill Whistler and Alphonse Legros , he also devoted himself to etching , a technique he studied with Francis Seymour Haden . He also drew cartoons for the British magazine Vanity Fair . He declined an invitation from Degas to take part in the first group exhibition of the Impressionists in 1874 and did not return to Paris until 1876, where his works were widely acclaimed. In 1880 he founded the Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers with Haden, Legros and other artists in order to establish etching and engraving as recognized art forms.

In 1882, the 28-year-old Kathleen Newton committed suicide. Just five days after her death, Tissot finally moved back to Paris. He later sold his London house to his friend Lawrence Alma-Tadema . As an established artist, he regularly exhibited his works in Paris, with increasing success. He moved among the Parisian high society and, for example, counted the Goncourt brothers among his friends.

First plunged into a personal crisis by the death of his beloved, Tissot turned to spiritualism and was particularly influenced by the medium William Eglinton (1858–1933). From 1886, Tissot concentrated primarily on religious topics. In the following years he toured Palestine several times and created a series with illustrations of the Old Testament . In 1896 he exhibited 350 graphics on the life of Christ in Paris , which were later published in two volumes.

Works in public collections (selection)

image Title (year of creation) Size, material collection
James Tissot - Marguerite in Church.jpg Margaret in the Church
(around 1861)
50.2 cm × 75.5 cm
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Ireland
in Dublin
James Tissot - Two Sisters.jpg Two sisters
210 cm × 136 cm
oil on canvas
Musée d'Orsay
in Paris
James Tissot - Portrait of Miss LL.jpg Portrait of Mlle LL
124 cm × 99.5 cm
oil on canvas
Musée d'Orsay
in Paris
James Tissot Self Portrait (1865) .jpg Self-portrait
(around 1865)
49.8 cm × 30.2 cm
oil on wood
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco ,
Palace of the Legion of Honor
in San Francisco
James Tissot - Young Ladies Looking at Japanese Objects.jpg Young Ladies Looking
at Japanese Objects

70.5 cm × 50.2 cm
oil on canvas
Cincinnati Art Museum
in Cincinnati
James Tissot - The Dreamer.jpg The Dreamer
(Summer Evening)

34.9 cm × 60.3 cm
oil on canvas
Musée d'Orsay
in Paris
James Tissot - On the Thames.  A Heron.jpg On the Thames. A Heron
92.7 cm × 60.3 cm
oil on canvas
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
in Minneapolis
James Tissot - The Captain's Daughter.jpg The Captain's Daughter
104.8 cm × 72.4 cm
oil on canvas
Southampton City Art Gallery
in Southampton
James Tissot - The Last Evening.jpg The Last Evening
72.4 cm × 102.9 cm
oil on canvas
The Guildhall Art Gallery
in London
James Tissot - London Visitors.jpg London Visitors
(around 1874)
160 cm × 114 cm
oil on canvas
Toledo Museum of Art
in Toledo
James Tissot - Ball on Shipboard.jpg Ball on Shipboard
(around 1874)
84.1 cm × 129.5 cm
oil on canvas
Tate Gallery of British Art
in London
James Tissot - Hush! .Jpg Hush!
(around 1875)
73.7 cm × 112.2 cm
oil on canvas
Manchester Art Gallery
in Manchester
James Tissot - Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby.jpg Captain Frederick
Gustavus Burnaby

(around 1875)
49.5 cm × 59.7 cm
oil on canvas
National Portrait Gallery
, London
James Tissot - Portrait of Miss Lloyd.jpg Portrait of Miss Lloyd
91.4 cm × 50.8 cm
oil on canvas
Tate Gallery of British Art
in London
James Tissot - A Passing Storm.jpg A Passing Storm
(around 1876)
76.8 cm × 99.7 cm
oil on canvas
Lord Beaverbrook Art Gallery
in Fredericton
James Tissot - October.jpg October
216 cm × 108.7 cm
oil on canvas
Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
in Montreal
James Tissot - Hide and Seek.jpg Hide and Seek
73.4 cm × 53.9 cm
oil on panel
National Gallery of Art
in Washington DC
James Tissot - Seaside.jpg Seaside
(around 1878)
87.5 cm × 61 cm
oil on canvas
Cleveland Museum of Art
in Cleveland
James Tissot - The Ball.jpg The Ball
90 cm × 50 cm
oil on canvas
Musée d'Orsay
in Paris
James Tissot - A Woman of Ambition.jpg A Woman of Ambition
142 cm × 101.6 cm
oil on canvas
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
in Buffalo
James Tissot - The Shop Girl.jpg The Shop Girl
146.1 cm × 101.6 cm
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of Ontario
in Toronto
James Tissot - Women of Paris, The Circus Lover.jpg Women of Paris,
The Circus Lover

147.2 cm × 101.6 cm
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts
in Boston
James Tissot - The Artist's Wives.jpg The Artists' Wives
146 cm × 101 cm
oil on canvas
Chrysler Museum of Art
in Norfolk


  • Cyrille Sciama: James Tissot et ses maîtres . Somogy Édition d'Art, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-85056-923-2 .
  • Nancy Rose Marshall, Malcolm Warner: James Tissot: Victorian life, modern love . Yale University Press, New Haven 1999, ISBN 0-300-08173-1 .
  • Christopher Wood: Tissot . Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1986, ISBN 0-297-78930-9 .

Web links

Commons : James Tissot  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files