James Tissot France
10-5-1836 Nantes, FRA – 8-8-1902 Doubs, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Jacques Joseph Tissot's youth spent in Nantes likely contributed to his frequent depiction of shipping vessels and boats in his later works. The involvement of his parents in the fashion industry is believed to have been an influence on his painting style, as he depicted women's clothing in fine detail. By the time Tissot was 17, he knew he wanted to pursue painting as a career. Around this time, he began using the given name of James. By 1854 he was commonly known as James Tissot; he may have adopted it because of his increasing interest in everything English.
In 1857, James Tissot traveled to Paris to pursue an education in art. Tissot enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts to study in the studios of Hippolyte Flandrin and Louis Lamothe. Lamothe provided a majority of Tissot's studio education, and the young artist studied on his own by copying works at the Louvre, as did most other artists of the time in their early years.
In 1859, James Tissot exhibited in the Paris Salon for the first time. He showed five paintings of scenes from the Middle Ages, many depicting scenes from Goethe's Faust. These works show the influence in his work of the Belgian painter Henri Leys (Jan August Hendrik Leys), whom Tissot had met in Antwerp earlier that same year.
In about 1863, James Tissot suddenly shifted his focus from the medieval style to the depiction of modern life through portraits. During this period, Tissot gained high critical acclaim, and quickly became a success as an artist. Like contemporaries such as Alfred Stevens and Claude Monet, Tissot also explored japonisme, including Japanese objects and costumes in his pictures and expressing style influence.
Tissot fought in the Franco-Prussian War as part of the improvised defence of Paris, joining two companies of the Garde Nationale and later as part of the Paris Commune, he left Paris for London in 1871.
Paintings by James Tissot appealed greatly to wealthy British industrialists during the second half of the 19th-century. During 1872 he earned 95,000 francs, an income normally only enjoyed by those in the echeleons of the upper classes.
In 1874, Degas asked him to join them in the first exhibition organized by the artists who became known as the Impressionists, but Tissot refused. He continued to be close to these artists, however. Berthe Morisot visited him in London in 1874, and he travelled to Venice with Édouard Manet at about the same time. He regularly saw Whistler, who influenced Tissot's Thames river scenes.
In 1885, James Tissot had a revival of his Catholic faith, which led him to spend the rest of his life making paintings about Biblical events. Many of his artist friends were skeptical about his conversion, as it conveniently coincided with the French Catholic revival, a reaction against the secular attitude of the French Third Republic. To assist in his completion of biblical illustrations, Tissot traveled to the Middle East in 1886, 1889, and 1896 to make studies of the landscape and people. His series of 365 gouache illustrations showing the life of Christ were shown to critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences. They were published in a French edition in 1896–7 and in an English one in 1897–8, bringing Tissot vast wealth and fame.
Art Movement: Realism Art
Influences: Hippolyte Flandrin, Louis Lamothe, Henri Leys
Traveled: England, Italy, Middle East