France • 1836−1902

Biography and information

James (Jacques-Joseph) Tissot (October 15, 1836, Nantes - August 8, 1902, Bouillon Abbey, Besancon, France) - French artist and illustrator. The artist became famous for his cycle of illustrations “The Life of Christ and the Old Testament”, as well as paintings depicting the fashionable beauties of Paris and London.

Features of the artist James Tissot: like most students of the Paris School of Fine Arts, Tissot studied by copying academic work in the galleries of the Louvre. The Belgian pioneer of realism, an artist, had a great influence on his technique. Henri LeisGermanPeter von Cornelius from the circle of Nazarene artists, as well as illustrator and engraver Moritz Retsch (Retch). It is worth noting Tissot's friendship with the impressionist artists, from whom he learned to use bright, saturated colors, as well as the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, which was especially noticeable in his early works. James Tisso perfectly mastered the classic drawing and oil painting technique, in more mature years he mastered the art of engraving, worked a lot in watercolor, paid attention to the cloisonne enamel technique. Towards the end of his life, he began to work mainly in gouache and pastel.

Famous paintings by artist James Tissot: “The meeting of Faust and Margarita”, "Ball on the ship", "Thames", “Crucifixion, view from the cross”, “St. Joseph is looking for an overnight stay in Bethlehem.”

Jacques-Joseph Tissot was born in the family of Marcel Theodore Tissot, a successful merchant of fabrics from Nantes, and the devout Catholic Mary Durant, who helped her husband in business and realized her own talents, creating hats. By the age of 17, after a Jesuit boarding school, Jacques-Joseph finally decided to become a professional artist - with the warm support of his mother and much to the disappointment of his father. In 1857, he went to Paris, to the School of Fine Arts, where he was sheltered by his mother’s friend, an artist Jules-Elie Delaunay. Tissot's teachers were Hippolytus Landrin and Louis Lamotte, friends - James Whistler, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Henri Leis.

French beginning

Three years later, the young provincial artist made his debut at the Salon, and since then he began to call himself James Tissot - in the English manner. Fame came to Tissot early: his picture“Meeting of Faust and Margarita” (“Faust and Margarita in the Garden”), in which the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites was clearly read, attracted the attention of Count de Neuwerkerke, who acquired the painting on behalf of the Luxembourg government for 5,000 francs.

Tisso inherited the commercial instincts of his successful father-merchant, which, combined with intelligence and sophistication, made him very successful. In 1863, the artist left the historical theme and turned to the genre of fashionable portrait, depicting elegant ladies in fashionable clothes. Two years later, Tissot, in recognition of his talents, received the right to exhibit at exhibitions of the Salon outside the competition program and preliminary assessment of the jury. The prices of his paintings depicting the entertainment and sophisticated life of the times of the Second Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte were simply fantastic. This gave Tissot the opportunity to purchase a luxurious villa on the prestigious new street of Paris - Empress Avenue (now Foch Avenue). In 1868, Tissot received an order for a painting that became the most expensive - and most difficult - of his career: the exclusive private club Rue Royale ordered him a group portrait. As was customary in those days, each of the 12 members of the club paid the artist his equal share - 1000 francs.

In 1869, at the pinnacle of his career, Tissot began working as a cartoonist with the new London-based magazine Vanity Fair (Vanity Fair), founded by Thomas Gibson Bowles (1842-1922). The first work for the magazine was a malicious political caricature depicting the defeated Napoleon III. And when in September 1870 the Second Empire collapsed, with it ended the calm, measured life of James Tissot. He became a sniper, defending Paris in the ranks of the "Scouts (Éclaireurs) of the Seine". After the Franco-Prussian war and the bloody battles of the Paris Commune, James Tissot fled from Paris to London, with only 100 francs in his pocket.

English period
Only two years it took a talented painter to take its rightful place in the London art market. In particular, he mastered the art of engraving, and taught him Seymour Hayden, the first president of the English Royal Society of Engravers. Already in 1873, Tissot bought a villa in the St. John's Forest and soon attached a spacious studio and a huge greenhouse to it. Then he became a member of the London The Arts Club. It should be noted that as early as 1870, Tissot refused exhibitions in the Salon, and soon declined the invitation to Degas to show his works at an exhibition of independent artists, who would later be called impressionists. Nevertheless, he maintained friendly relations with artists of this circle, hosted at a party Bertu morizotraveled with Edouard Manet.

From 1872 to 1875, Tissot exhibited his work exclusively at the Royal Academy, receiving a solid income from the sale of watercolor copies and prints of his paintings. In 1876, James Tissot became a very wealthy man and spent the next six years in relative solitude with his young model and muse, a divorced IrishKathleen Newton (1854-1882), which posed for his paintings "October", "Evening", "Hammock". Her son, Cecil George Newton, who was born in 1876, is considered Tissot's illegitimate child.

In 1877, Tissot changed the exhibition area and moved from the Royal Academy to the new Grosvenor Gallery on Bond Street. When Kathleen Newton died of tuberculosis at the end of 1882, at the age of 28 (according to some, she committed suicide), Tisso returned to Paris, and a year later he sold his London house to a Dutch artistLawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 - 1912).

James Tissot as a Bible Illustrator
In the French capital, James Tissot tried to restore his reputation as a fashionable painter by creating a series of fifteen large-scale paintings called “La Femme de Paris” (“Parisian Woman”). Like Stevens and Degas, Tisso explored Japanese art, including Japanese décor and costumes in his paintings. Created between 1883 and 1885, made in bright, modern colors, the works of the La Femme de Paris series depicted the archetypes of modern Parisian women, but the public did not like it.

Tissot devoted the rest of his life to illustrating the Bible, for which he made repeated trips to the Holy Land - in 1886-87, 1888 and 1889. His series of 365 gouache illustrations dedicated to the Life of Christ became a sensation. Works from the "biblical series" were shown at exhibitions in Paris (1894 and 1895), London (1896) and New York (1898), and were printed in separate editions. Meanwhile, Tissot returned to his beloved and familiar theme of female portraiture, painting aristocrats and beauties in sumptuous scenery from the Belle Époque era.

In 1888, James Tissot settled in the former Chateau de Bouillon Abbey, which he inherited from his father. The artist died in 1902, at the age of 66. He became famous thanks to the series “The Life of Christ and the Old Testament” - a recognized masterpiece of illustration. The drawings from this series became canonical and were used to create modern films such as “Indiana Jones: Finding the Lost Ark” by Stephen Spielberg (1981) and “The Age of Innocence” by Martin Scorsese (1993).

Today, Tissot's graphics and paintings are expensive artworks that are now exhibited at world famous auctions. His work “Portrait of a Young Woman in the Winter Garden” was sold on December 15, 2016 for 75 thousand pounds.