James Jacques Joseph Tissot : French, 1836 – 1902

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James Jacques Joseph Tissot
 (15 October 1836 – 8 August 1902) was a French painter and illustrator. He was a successful painter of Paris society before moving to London in 1871.’

Long have I been a fan of James Tissot’s work ‘Too Early’, vividly depicting guests awkwardly milling around an immense ballroom, having arrived slightly too early for the party to have started. As described so perfectly by Katy Werlin at The Fashion Historian :

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Too Early

Too Early shows a snapshot in time, a moment of awkward embarrassment in which guests have arrived too early to a party. As proclaimed by contemporary etiquette, “A ballroom should be entered at an hour suited to the habits of those who invite you. It is extremely inconvenient however, to be too early, as you may disconcert your friends.” The hostess administers last minute instructions to the musicians, while her guests fidget and avoid eye contact. In the back corner, too servants peer through a slightly opened door, seeming to laugh at the awkwardness of the scene before them.”

However, I must admit that my current favourite two works of Tissot are the extraordinarily detailed ship scene of ‘The Captain and The Mate‘ and the mysterious garden escape of ‘The Letter‘.

Both of these I love for their composition and for the astounding details of the background scenery, which allows the simplicity of the subjects to shine. I’m enthralled by Tissot’s ability to capture scenes with such sensitivity.
The beauty of ship scenes are almost in fashion photography style, juxtaposing the roughness of the surroundings with the elegance of sumptuous attire. Everything in the paintings seem alive to me, as if the moment has been captured and lives ever on for as long as I look at it.
Regarding ‘The Letter’, I feel that the National Gallery of Canada captures the allure of the scene perfectly with their description:
The appeal of Tissot’s work lies in its lavish detail and a choice of subject inspired by contemporary British society. Here every fold and ruffle of the model’s clothing, down to the raised seam of her leather gloves, is rendered with vivid and exacting precision. The setting for “The Letter” has recently been identified as the Dutch Gardens of Holland House in London.

Tissot also paints many a delightful family scene of children on rugs in the garden, basking in the glory of summer days.
The Athenaeum shows a bountiful collection of his works, which is where I have found many of these stunningly intricate images.
I am quite in love, to be sure, and my dearly favoured artist Vittorio Reggianini may have a competitor for my affections here in James Tissot.

RG Raven blog signature
Fabulously eccentric actress, TV host, curvaceous model and founder of Hong Kong ’s first luxury corset brand, Pearls & Arsenic.
 I love sharing my passion for all things elegant, beautiful & inspiring. My Dearest Beloved and I live with a fluffy Angora rabbit named Lord Pemberly III, who is a ridiculous snob, and his dwarf-lop bunny brother, The Earl of Tillington.  Find me on IG @RavenTao or FB : Raven Tao ❤

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