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James Tissot - Click here to view available works.

French, 1833 - 1902James Tissot

Tissot was born in Nantes and went to Paris at the age of 20 to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. There he met Degas, who was to be a lifelong friend. In the early 1860s he was a popular society painter and showed his paintings at the Paris Salon. When the Franco-Prussian war ended in 1870 Tissot joined the Commune, despite being from a wealthy family. As a result he fell foul of the conservative government when it returned to power and he had to leave France. Having long been an Anglophile, showing at the Royal Academy for some years, he went to live in London in 1870. He settled in a house in St. Johns Wood with his companion, Mrs Kathleen Newton, a divorcee with two children, with whom he lived as man and wife, which was highly controversial at that time. Kathleen became his muse and principal model. He became a highly successful society painter and through the influence of his friends, Whistler and Alphonse Legros, took to etching. Invited by Degas to join the Impressionists at their first exhibition in 1874, he refused to join the movement and it was not until 1876 that he returned to show his work in Paris, to much acclaim. His etchings met with particular success and he was considered one of the masters of the art. In 1882 Kathleen Newton died and the heart-broken Tissot left London for Paris where he worked and exhibited frequently, his popularity and success ever growing. He became obsessed with trying to summon the spirit of Kathleen through spiritualism and consulted William Eglinton, one of the leading mediums of the time. He moved in the highest circles, befriended by the Goncourts and other eminent figures in the world of high society and the arts, till his death. From 1886 onwards, Tissot concentrated on religious themes creating a series of illustrations for the Bible but it is his belle époque etchings and paintings which have maintained his popularity with collectors and connoisseurs

right: self-portrait, oil-painting, c. 1865