Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tissot, James

Hide and Seek
oil on wood
73.4 x 53.9 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), painter and graphic artist, was born in Nantes in a seaport on the French coast. Tissot was the son of a very prosperous, successful shopkeeper, who was a devout Roman Catholic. He spent much of his career in Britain. His pictures are distinguished most obviously by his love of painting women's costumes. He also had a gift for wittily observing nuances of social behavior.

Early in his career he painted historical costume pieces, but in about 1864 he turned with great success to scenes of contemporary life, usually involving fashionable women. Following his alleged involvement in the turbulent events of the Paris Commune in 1871 he took refuge in London, where he lived from 1871 to 1882. He was just as successful there as he had been in Paris.

Throughout his life Tissot retained an affinity and fascination with all things nautical, and his marked ability to accurately paint rigging and shipboard scene paintings must have come from his boyhood. For many years after his death Tissot was considered a grossly vulgar artist, bug there has been a recent upsurge of interest in him.