Musée d'Orsay: James Tissot (1836-1902), Ambiguously modern

James Tissot (1836-1902), Ambiguously modern

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Thames and variations

Tissot James (dit), Jacques Joseph (1836-1902). Royaume-Uni, Londres, Tate Collection. N04892.
James TissotThe Ball on Shipboard© Tate, Londres, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Tate Photography
When Tissot settled in London in 1871, he developed a love of the Thames shoreline and British coastal resorts. Following in the footsteps of his friend Whistler, who found material for a number of works there from the 1860s onwards, the painter discovered fertile ground for inspiration in the life of the docks and British coast.
This world, with its blend of industry and leisure, the trivial and the beautiful, located between the megalopolis of London and the sea from which emigrants set sail, was the subject of compositions which impressed critics at the Royal Academy and Grosvenor Gallery, where Tissot showed his work.

The press was also captivated by this foreigner who reproduced contemporary reality with such acuity.

Portsmouth Dockyard
James TissotPortsmouth Dockyard© Tate, Londres, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Tate Photography
However, a certain weariness sometimes made itself felt. It was not uncommon to find several very similar works by Tissot, and his ability to adapt his compositions to different media with a few modifications is both fascinating and disconcerting when variation verges on repetition.

The fact remains that the extraordinary plasticity of Tissot’s compositions and the way in which they adapt to different techniques form the basis of a new approach to images.
In Britain, the painter, who translated his own paintings into prints – and in the case of certain outstanding pieces into cloisonné enamel works (see the next room) – was truly able to forge a graphic language which ensured the widespread dissemination of his works.

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