James Jacques Joseph Tissot (15 October 1836 – 8 August 1902)
Born: 1836; Nantes
Died: 1902; Buillon
Although Tissot is frequently classified as a Victorian artist, he actually spent only ten years in England. His early instruction in art was with La Motte and Flandrin in Paris. The fashionable women of that city became the subjects of many of his prints and paintings. The influence of Realism could be seen in his style if not his subjects, as forms and environments were depicted with meticulous detail and precisely graded tones. Tissot went to England after 1870-1871, a year during which he was involved in the French-Prussian war. While in London, he worked with Seymour Haden, and added drypoint to his repertoire of intaglio media. Even in his English works, there is an indefinable flavor, which places all of Tissot’s œuvre within the French school.
Tissot’s etchings often show a “quality of melancholy and tension between the figures which gives them a much greater psychological impact.” He was clearly influenced by the Belle Epoque style and the overall feeling in his drypoints is certainly romantic and of sheer decorative beauty.
Midway in his career, Tissot turned to religious subjects and began basing his compositions on Biblical stories. Later, he retired to the Monastery of Buillon where he died in 1902. It is widely believed that Tissot’s youth spent in Nantes contributed to his frequent depiction of shipping vessels and boats in his later works. Also, there was most likely an influence of his parents’ involvement in the fashion industry on his attention to women’s clothing over the course of his career. By the time Tissot was 17 he knew he wanted to pursue painting as a career. Though his father did not support this decision, they eventually were able to overcome the disagreement.